Monday, February 3, 2014

Conservation Monday #1: 5 Simple Ways to Save Water

Welcome to my first Conservation Monday post! I plan to post new tips and ideas on conserving resources every Monday. Please feel free to share your conservation ideas in the comments.

I'm starting these posts in light of California's current drought situation. Our governor recently declared a state of emergency, and some cities are already implementing rationing limits. While my city has not yet mandated reduced water use, I think it is a good idea to start implementing some conservation techniques now. It never hurts to save, right?

Living Design: 5 Simple Ways to Save Water

Let's start with five basic water saving measures that anyone can do, whether you are dealing with a drought or not.

1. Low flow toilets. If you have an older toilet (before 1994 for U.S. homes) it can use roughly 3.5 gallons of water for every flush. All toilets manufactured since 1994 fall under the general category of "low flow," meaning they use 1.6 gallons or less per flush. Newer models use water pressure to achieve better flushing action using even less water. According to the EPA, the average household can save $90 per year by switching to low flow toilets. Less than half the water use and money savings? Sounds like a win to me!

2. Low flow shower heads. Have you ever stopped the drain during a shower to see how much water you're using? If you're using a traditional shower head, it can be quite a lot! Low flow shower heads restrict the flow of water, often using air to make up for the lost pressure. This is a change that can take some time to get used to, but will save water and money in the long run.

3. Be vigilant about leaks! Take care of leaky faucets immediately. It saves money and water, as well as the headache of knowing a home repair is waiting for you.

4. Wash only full loads. This goes for clothes and dishes. Running a full clothes washer or dish washer is more efficient and uses less water per item than doing small loads. Just remember not to over fill the washing machine with clothes -- stuffing so much in that nothing can move around can actually be detrimental.

5. Do less laundry. We have a bit of an obsession with cleanliness. So much so that we spend time and water washing clothes that aren't really dirty. My husband wears undershirts everyday, but he used to put both the undershirt and the button-up or polo into the laundry basket. We were washing shirts that hadn't even touched his skin! Now, he hangs his shirts back up to air out, and gets at least one more day of wear. An added bonus -- washing less often is good for the fabric too!

If you have any other tips, please share them in the comments! Next week I'll be going into more drought-specific tips (like reusing shower water for plants).

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