Saving water is a win-win: it’s good for your pocketbook and good for the environment. Here in the U.S., we turn on a faucet and water flows endlessly, so much so that homes have flooded from overfilling sinks and tubs. We water our lawns and wash our vehicles just so they’ll look nice. We fill massive backyard swimming pools with water. We even buy bottled water instead of drinking the water that comes out of our faucets.
However, there is not an endless supply of water. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over the past 50 years, the U.S. population has doubled, but our need for water has tripled – and by 2024, at least 40 states are projecting water shortages.
Other countries are already experiencing water problems. Water.org estimates that 844 million people around the world don’t have access to safe water. The importance of safe water cannot be overestimated as 1 million people die each year as a result of water, sanitation, and hygiene issues.
Even though water covers 70% of the world’s surface, 97.5% of it is salt water, according to The Water Project. Only 2.5% is freshwater, and close to 68% of the freshwater is in the form of glaciers and ice caps. So how much of the world’s water is available for human use? Only 1%.
That’s why water conservation is critical. Below are 25 water usage and water conservation facts to help you save more water.
- According to the EPA, the average household leak wastes 10,000 gallons on water each year. However, 1 in 10 homes waste at least 90 gallons of water each day in leaks. A leaky faucet dripping one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons a year, and a leaky shower with 10 drips per minute can waste over 500 gallons of water per year. If you find and fix these leaks, you can save 10% on your water bill.
- Turning off the water when brushing your teeth saves 80% of the amount of water you would normally use, according to The Water Project. You can turn on the water to wet your toothbrush, but you should make sure you turn it off until you are ready to rinse the toothpaste out of your mouth. According to Conserveh20, if you do this, you could save 2.5 gallons a minute.
- Changing how you shave can save about 60% of the water you would normally use, reveals The Water Project. Just like teeth brushing, a lot of the waste from shaving comes as people leave faucets running. Instead of letting the water run continuously, fill the sink partially or less, and use that water for shaving. When you need to clean your razors, cut the water on for a few seconds and then turn it back off.
- Replacing old toilets can save 16,000 gallons of water per year (for a family of four). If you have not replaced your toilets in a while and your home was built before 1992, consider switching to a WaterSense-labeled model, which uses 1.28 gallons or less per flush. You can even consider putting in a dual flush toilet, which allow you to adjust the amount of water used per flush to further conserve.
- Approximately 50% of all indoor water is used in the bathroom. Another WaterSense water conservation fact: the toilet accounts for 19% of your total water use, so do not use the toilet as a trashcan. The toilet was designed for specific items that need to be flushed away. This does not include (for example) wiping off your lipstick and flushing the tissue paper down the commode, as there will likely be a trashcan nearby for that.
- You can save 700 gallons of water per year by replacing old, inefficient faucets and aerators with WaterSense-labeled models. You can install an aerator on the bathroom faucet that you already have (to reduce the flow of water), and either option is 30% more efficient than a standard faucet. And many efficient aerators can also maintain water pressure, while still cutting back on water flow.
- #A bathtub can hold a lot of water, but your bath should be shallow – no more than 3 inches of water according to the City of San Diego’s Water Conservation site. Filling the tub to almost overflowing and adding bubble bath might sound relaxing, but you are needlessly wasting a lot of water.
- Do not assume that taking a shower saves more money than taking a bath. According to Consumer Reports, it depends on how much water you use in the bathtub vs. how long you would normally shower and it also depends on what type of showerhead you use. Like the faucet aerator, there are low flow shower heads that can be installed to allow you to reduce the amount of water used with each cleaning.
- If you cut a 10-minute shower in half (down to 5 minutes) and you use a shower head with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons of water per minute, you can save 12.5 gallons of water according to Home Water Works. If you cut the water off while you are lathering up or shaving your legs, you can save even more water.
- Washers built before 2011 use approximately 40 gallons of water per load, no matter the size of the load. If this describes your washing machine, Home Water Works advises against using it unless you have enough laundry to fill up the washer. Otherwise, you are just wasting water with meager loads.
- If you replace your old clothes washer with a more efficient model, you could end up using as little as 15 gallons per load, according to Home Water Works. Even better, with the newer, more intuitive models, water levels are able to adjust automatically to the size of the load. That means smaller loads will not use as much water.
- If you wash dishes by hand, keeping the water running while you wash and rinse consumes unnecessary water. Letting it run for 10 minutes can waste 10 gallons of water. Instead, one of the Home Water Works water conservation recommendations is to fill the sink with enough water to cover the dishes, and then cut the water off.
- #13: You’ll save more water by washing your dishes in your dishwater than in the sink. That is another water saving fact from the EPA, which states that you could save almost 5,000 gallons of water a year. When you the combine the cost of both water and energy, you could save $431 over the lifespan of the dishwasher. Before loading your dishes, scrape your plates well so you will not have to rinse them. According to conservh2o, rinsing can waste 2.5 gallons a minute.
- Close to 9 billion gallons of water are used each day for residential outdoor use. Most of it is used for landscape irrigation, reports the EPA, so think carefully when planning how much turf grass you need to plant in your yard. Watering the lawn for 20 minutes every day of the week is equivalent to taking more than 800 showers or running the shower nonstop for a total of 4 days. That’s the equivalent of a year’s worth of showers for a family of four. You can take it further and save 8,800 gallons of water a year by replacing your standard clock timer with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller.
- If you keep as many of the existing trees and plants as you can, you will not have to water them as much because they are already established, advises the EPA. The Agency also recommends choosing plants that are naturally found in (native to) your region since they also do not require additional assistance. Drought-resistant plants, such as Deer Grass, California Lilac, and Tickweed, are some of the options that can survive a harsh summer without a lot of water.
- If you have a variety of plants, group them together by water needs. By putting them in zones, you can reduce the chances of wasting water on plants that do not need as much, reports the EPA.
- Using mulch helps retain water in your yard by minimizing the level of evaporation and moderating soil temperatures, according to the EPA, especially in the summer. It also reduces erosion that takes place over time. Organic mulch is also essential in helping to improve your soil’s condition so that it is better able to absorb water and nutrients. However, be careful not to apply too deeply or it will suffocate plants.
- While kids like to play in the water when it is hot, do not let them play with outdoor water hoses or have water fights. According to San Diego’s water saving tips, you can conserve water by taking them to your city’s public pool or perhaps to the beach. You can also save water by not letting them drink out of the hoses, since they would use much more water this way than by drinking water out of a glass.
- Washing your vehicles at a carwash that recycles its water conserves more water than washing them yourself at home, according to Home Water Works. Carwashes also use less water than consumers washing their own vehicles.
- If you wash your vehicle at home, making sure that the hose has a shutoff valve can conserve water, according to Home Water Works. Instead of the water running continuously, you can prevent waste by turn it on only when you need to.
- The typical pool uses 22,000 gallons to fill it up, and without a cover, the pool can lose hundreds of gallons of water each month due to evaporation. According to the City of Fresno Department of Utilities, you can reduce water evaporation by close to 90% by using a pool cover.
- You can use 10 gallons of water per minute hosing down your driveway and in 10 minutes, you will have used 100 gallons on water. Instead of using the hose, you should use a broom to clean your driveway instead, according to the City of Fresno Department of Utilities
- Watering your lawn early in the morning is best for water conservation efforts, according to Popular Mechanics . The site warns that watering in the day can cause the water to evaporate too soon. As a result, some of the water won’t get to the plant’s roots, causing you to waste water. If you can’t water it in the morning during the week, wait until the weekend to do it. (If you water in the evening, the site warns that the water will just sit there and could result in fungus.)
- Your lawn only needs to be watered every 5 to 7 days, according to WaterInfo.org. Many people are overwatering their lawns. Not only is this wasteful, but it also keeps the grass from being able to receive the oxygen it needs to grow healthy, so it will eventually die. In addition, when your lawn is overwatered, the fertilizer is washed away, resulting in groundwater pollution.
- If you improperly dispose of just one quart of oil, it can contaminate 250,000 gallons on water, according to Hydroknot. Properly disposing of the oil ensures that it does not contaminate the soil, and subsequently, streams, and rivers. Contact your local government to find out where you can recycle your oil.
There are several ways to conserve water – some are just a matter of changing your existing habits, while others may be inconvenient, at least at first. However, out of these 25 facts, you should be able to find the right mix of actions to create a plan that you can practice on a consistent basis. If each one of us commits to implement at least some of these conservation facts and tips, we can ensure that there’s enough water for future generations.