Tips for Reducing Household Water Consumption

Water conservation is important, even where there seems to be an abundance of water. In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local watersheds.

In 2004, the average Canadian daily domestic use of fresh water per capita was 329 litres (87 U.S. gallons). We can reduce water consumption in the home, and in business, by 40% or more, without having to make major lifestyle changes or invest in costly infrastructure.

Here are a few easy-to-implement suggestions for cutting back on water usage:

1. Check for leaks and fix them. A dripping faucet can allow up to two gallons per hour to be wasted. Toilets are also prime suspects. To check, simply drop some food coloring into the tank (not the bowl) and wait 15 minutes. If colored water shows up in the bowl, you have a leaker.

2. Use water-saving shower heads and faucets. High-flow shower heads spew water out at 6-10 gallons a minute. Flow restriction devices can cut the flow in half without reducing pressure. Take short showers – five minutes or less should do. If you prefer baths, fill the tub only one-quarter full.

3. Water your lawn and plants early in the day. This practice will reduce the loss of water due to evaporation. Late watering also reduces evaporation. During the summer, water your plants slowly and infrequently. Consider drip irrigation for garden areas, which help add water just where it is needed.

4. Use a pistol-grip nozzle on your hose. When washing your car, you can easily shut off the water after each hosing. Remember, a full-open hose can discharge upwards of 50 gallons of water in just 5 minutes. Better still, fill a bucket with water and use a sponge.

5. Don’t let faucets run continuously. This is especially true when shaving, brushing your teeth and rinsing the dishes. An open faucet allows 5 gallons to pass in as little as 2 minutes.

6. Review your toilets’ water consumption. Don’t use your toilets as an ashtray or wastebasket. Flushing gallons of water for these purposes is very wasteful. Old toilets use 3-5 gallons per flush; new toilets are low-flow (1.6 gallons per flush) models to help conserve water.

7. Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher.

8. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting your tap run to get cold water when you want a drink. (Rinse the bottle every few days.)