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Question of the Week: How Do You Conserve Water?

2008 December 1

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Buying Watersense plumbing fixtures, turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, using a hotel towel two or more days, watering the lawn in the early morning… There are probably as many ways to save water, at any time of year, as there are people.

How do you conserve water?

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140 Responses leave one →
  1. tjl permalink
    December 5, 2008

    Mel raises a good point. If you stuff your washer to the brim and dial up the maximum water quantity, are you really saving water over splitting the same load in half and setting the machine for half the water use each time? Certainly you save energy, and that’s a good enough reason for me. But setting that aside, does the full washer idea only apply to machines that can’t be adjusted for load size? As Mel notes, those must be pretty rare nowadays.

  2. Golda Dennis permalink
    December 7, 2008

    Here in Trinidad, West Indies, the Water and Sewage Authority encourage parents to create awareness of the need for water conservation among their children. Parents are encouraged to avoid the purchase of recreational water toys which require a constant stream of water. This is especially important now during the holiday season and the closure of the country’s rainy season where decreased rainfall was experienced. These concerns are further heightened by the ever increasing global water crisis.

  3. Bill permalink
    December 7, 2008

    How about everyone just not shower or wash dishes or do anything with water. We could also stop breathing because of the horrible green house gases that our body puts off. Maybe we should just kill off all of the human race so that nature could live in peace. Or better yet all you wack jobs could get some commen sense and stop with this madness

  4. Marilyn permalink
    December 7, 2008

    Water levels in many washers are only selected for initial fill. Rinses are all on the same high use. Jamming too many clothes into washer is counterproductive because they won’t clean as well but washing whatever constitutes a full load for your washer will save more water.

  5. ohio mattress recovery permalink
    December 7, 2008

    In order to conserve water, I turn the shower off when I am washing with soap. I also have rain barrels on each side of the garage to collect the rainwater and use the rainwater to water my plants in the garden.

  6. JMW permalink
    December 8, 2008

    I agree with Cameron . . . Pam, your tips for reusing cooking water are quite original & easy to implement.

    My house plants will also thank you for the added nutrients from unsalted water used to steam veggies & cook pasta!


  7. Sid Abma permalink
    December 8, 2008

    Have you ever seen natural gas irrigate the lawns and flower beds?Have you noticed the green lawns around schools, universities, hospitals and a lot of government buildings? Inside these facilities natural gas fired boilers are used to provide the heat and also to heat the domestic water or even the swimming pool water. These natural gas boilers are not very efficient. A lot of HOT exhaust is going up these chimney’s into the atmosphere. This also does not help the battle against global warming. If these facilities that require these boilers to provide steam or hot water were to apply the technology of “Condensing flue gas heat recovery” they would (1) increase the energy efficiency of these appliances to 90% or more (2) reduce the temperature of the exhaust to where it will be a lot cooler. Since this exhaust is now cooled to a temperature below the dewpoint, condensation is then created. Condensation amounts can be a few gallons or hundreds of gallons per hour. This distilled water can be collected in a large plastic container that has been placed underground, and when full a pump can then disperse this water on the lawns and flower beds. Free water~ Created out of combusted natural gas.

  8. Doug permalink
    December 8, 2008

    we replaced our washing machine with a front loader, changed out our toilets for dual flushers, installed 1.6gpm showerheads with sailor switches, installed a demand pump, we have sealed shower compartments with shower timers and an energy star dishwasher. Last month two of us used only 1,000 gallons.

  9. Josh permalink
    December 8, 2008

    This is a great topic. After seeing the word ‘leak’ or ‘leaky’ referenced 19 times so far we see that many people understand the importance of not inadvertently wasting water by letting it leak before you even get to use the water.

    I work for American Leak Detection, and we help our customers find leaks in a non-invasive manner that preserves property, and helps to conserve water.

    For example a leak the size of a pinhead can waste 360,000 gallons per year, enough to fill 12,000 bathtubs to the overflow mark.

  10. Peter permalink
    December 8, 2008

    Apparently converting agricultural land to residential land “saves” a lot of water.

    But I agree with posters who recognize that it isn’t about “saving” water, rather it is using water more “efficiently” that is the ticket.

    The two concepts shouldn’t be confused. Most of the ideas on here are more “efficient” uses of water.

    For example, it may be more efficient to use water from an aquifer as a coolant in an electrical plant, than to farm with it, or use it for residential uses.

    Just because something uses a lot of water, doesn’t mean it is bad.

    Are there any EMERGY folks who can speak to this?

  11. Peter permalink
    December 8, 2008

    I use bottled water from out of state. It saves and conserves local water, and actually adds water to our acquifer through the septic.

    Just kidding. remember, it isn’t saving water, it is being more efficient.

  12. Henry Li permalink
    December 9, 2008

    I wash our dinner dishes by hand since there’s only two of us living in the house, and we don’t like to leave dirty dishes overnight in the dish washer. I soap the dishes, pots and pans first, then rinse them afterwards. I would collect the rinse “cycle” water in a plastic bucket (usually two full buckets of water from a single wash).
    The saved rinse “cycle” water will be used to flush the toilet in the adjacent powder room.

  13. Paola Bouley, Conservation Program Director w/ the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network. permalink
    December 9, 2008

    The Salmon Protection And Watershed Network just launched a rainwater harvesting program in Marin County where we are installing demonstration roofwater harvesting projects at schools and at residences to showcase ways to reduce the use of treated municipal water for gardens. Check out
    Check out the one we did in 2006 at

    Personally, at home we have a roofwater harvesting system that captures almost 10,000 gallons of stormwater of a shed roof. We slowly release that water over the winter and then store 1,000 gallons for use in our veggie garden over the dry summer.

    We also keep a large stainless steel pot under the faucet in our sink to catch water used to clean veggies etc… this is used to water our garden too. We also store a bucket in the shower to catch the cold water before it heats up + we have a Envirosax sand timer to time our showers to 4-minutes.

    This ALL adds up and we (two people in our household) reduced our water consumption to half of what it was last year.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    December 12, 2008

    Those are some very good ideas!!!

  15. Anonymous permalink
    December 12, 2008


  16. Azza Shaer permalink
    December 13, 2008

    Well, i think we shouldn’t wash our cars using hoses instead we should use a bucket filled with water; this way you’ll limit the amount of water you use.

  17. BOB THE BUILDER permalink
    December 14, 2008

    That’s a start but before answering some of the peoples questions try getting some information

  18. mason permalink
    December 15, 2008

    what are you on about i think you are doing well to look after the enviorment well done i want to help

  19. George permalink
    December 15, 2008

    A viable topic. Lake Hartwell in SC/GA is now about 20 feet down , lowest since it was made in 50’s

  20. ilker permalink
    January 2, 2009

    All these methods for conserving water are good but not enough because they are all personal. We use 5% of the water available in our home and the rest 95% is wasted by industry. how about that? better to stop water consuming factories.

  21. Anonymous permalink
    January 20, 2009

    thanks you did my homework

  22. Deryck permalink
    January 22, 2009

    Just curious what the EPA has to do with “water conservation.” Also curious who else skipped the day in science class where they explained the mysterious “water cycle.” I don’t know, I think it was something about how nature recycles water all on its own. Condensation, precipitation, evaporation…bah, who cares about all that science mumbo jumbo anyway.

    Just curious though–where does the wasted water go? What happens to it?

  23. Jack permalink
    February 1, 2009

    When washing dishes in the sink, I like to keep the tap at about 25%. Running it at full blast just wastes water. If using the dishwasher, I make sure it’s full so I get as many dishes washed with the water that is used.

  24. Anonymous permalink
    March 17, 2009

    How in the world does filling a pitcher instead of getting water from the tap SAVE water? It just changes the place you get the water from… unless you are bathing in or drinking rain water from those tubs / pitchers, that does not save/conserve anything…

    Anyway – ESPECIALLY if you have a well and septic system and are not in an area that is arid and overpopulated – that water just goes right back into its natural enviornment anyway and renews itself.

  25. Phil permalink
    March 17, 2009

    Use rain barrels. you can reuse the rain water you collect to water your flowers, but first you must purify it. It is great to use these, thus, you can reuse lots of water. Like 50 gallons!!

  26. spongebobby permalink
    May 21, 2009

    I think saving all this water is awesome cause I have saved a lot of money using the tips I found on

  27. Artificial Turf permalink
    September 23, 2009

    I think most of the water is wasted in keeping the lawn green and clean. So i preferred artificial turf for the lawns to save water.

  28. Artificial Turf permalink
    October 9, 2009

    One of the way to save water is using artificial turf for lawns as an alternate to natural grass as it consumes too much water to be green.

  29. Sheila permalink
    January 15, 2010

    I always try to turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth. I also turn of the shower when I am shampooing my hair. I run just enough water to get lathered and then I turn it off while I massage the shampoo and conditioner into my hair. I am also really careful when I water my flowers from 1800 flowers. I try not to fill up any vase with too much water.

  30. scamp permalink
    January 29, 2010

    We are on tank water.
    When I wash clothes I collect the first lot of water (in buckets) to use on the garden.
    Then I collect the clean rinse water (in buckets) and use it to wash my next load.
    Aged almost 67 and getting good muscles in my arms – lol
    I put a small amount of water in the bathroom basin and this same water is used for washing my hands after applying makeup, and hair gel etc.
    I have a small glass of water and use as little as possible to rinse my teeth after cleaning. I never have the tap running until the very end to clean my toothbrush.
    When we get out tanks filled we collect all the excess water in the pipes when delivery is finished. Always bucketfulls of beaut’ water still in the pipes.
    I am in and out of the shower as quickly as possible and have a big ‘drip’ (step out and apply shampoo > step back and rinse off > step out and apply conditioner etc) rather than a full on shower . This is easy in the summer.

  31. scamp permalink
    January 29, 2010

    We always have a bowl in the sink and you really only need to fill slightly and move the items around in there to wash easily.
    If my hands get sticky, dirty, etc or there is a utensil that needs washing then there is the same water in the bowl to wash same.
    I hate to see people run the tap to rinse out a cup of whatever.
    I also hate to see the bowl filled to the top when there is no need.

  32. websitebuilder permalink
    April 13, 2010

    When it rains, I get a bucket to catch rainwater that I could use to water my plants or clean the garage. When doing the laundry, I use the last rinse water to clean the bathroom. I’m very particular about conserving water so I remind my househelp, the kids, and (especially) my husband to make efforts as well.

  33. websitebuilder permalink
    April 13, 2010

    When it rains, I get a bucket to catch rainwater that I could use to water my plants or clean the garage. When doing the laundry, I use the last rinse water to clean the bathroom. I’m very particular about conserving water so I remind my househelp, the kids, and (especially) my husband to make efforts as well.

    Amy Cameron

  34. Raelynn permalink
    August 30, 2010

    In Las Vegas, Nevada, water conservation is a most.. To conserve water many homeowners including us have installed artificial grass lawns, versus traditional real grass. By removing just 1,000 square feet of real grass and replacing it with synthetic turf we can save upwards of between 50,000 gallons of water annually to 75,000 gallons of water annually.

  35. Samantha permalink
    October 3, 2010

    We have plenty of water in our place since we have a lot of water falls around us. But we still conserve our water through not using unnecessary uses. We even do water conversion from unclean water through sand filtration. There are more ways also to conserve water you can also try and see how they design more things regarding on waters.

  36. glorry permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Good point to concentrate on. The limited resources need to be used very carefully otherwise we will have a great problem.

  37. Waterfil permalink
    December 12, 2010

    Very interesting article. Quite a few good points I had never thought of before ( like the brick in the toilet basin not being a good idea ). Also hate it when people run water from the tap just to rinse a plate or fork off.
    I was interested to see there are some people recomending filtering and purifying water to recycle water. Will be following the article for more tips

  38. David permalink
    December 18, 2010

    Very good idea’s throughout the post. I personally like the method of recycling slightly dirty water using. Glad to see there are some people interested in making the most of the water we have.

  39. Dorothy Maristela permalink
    July 15, 2011

    We have plastic basins on our sink that we use in washing clothes or dishes. The used water can be reused in cleaning floors.

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