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Question of the Week: How do you save water?

2009 August 3

Water is a precious resource and can be conserved no matter where you live. Share how you save water – by just using less, by using water-efficient fixtures, and other ways.

How do you save water?

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.

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47 Responses leave one →
  1. Mr. Chul KIM McGuire, G.E. McAllen, TX permalink
    August 3, 2009

    One way that I save water is by turning down the water valves underneath the sinks. This will control the maximum flow to the faucets so that the volume is controlled further and water wasted down the drain is reduced even more.

  2. Beth Gucciardi permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I can’t afford to upgrade to low-volume flush toilets, but instead I adjusted the float sensors in our current models to register full at a lower level. This beats trying to fit a brick in the tank.

  3. Tree Huggr Grrl permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I live in an apartment, so I have little control over some things, like shower heads. (but I do have water efficient shower heads)

    While waiting for my shower to get hot, I collect the water and use that to water my potted plants. Also, do the same in the kitchen.

    I water my outside plants in the evening or morning instead of the middle of the day to prevent evaporation. I water at the base of each plant instead of with a sprinkler, so no water goes to waste watering sidewalks and the like. I mulch so it doesn’t evaporate so quickly.

    *I save up my laundry so I can do a full load.
    *I don’t let the water run while I’m brushing my teeth or washing my hands.
    *I don’t wash the exterior of my car very often, but when I do, I go to a car wash that recycles (or resues?) the water.

    I wash my dishes by hand, which I’ve read is less efficient than my machine, but I would dispute that. I use a dishpan for washing, and when that water gets dirty, I empty the dishpan and rinse over that so as to fill the dishpan to wash my second batch of dishes. I can’t believe I’m using more water than the dishwasher! It would take me quite a while to fill up the dishwasher if I saved up my dishes until it was full. Also, it’s an older model and I doubt it’s energy efficient.

  4. Erik permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I use a low-flow showerhead (1.2 gpm) (with filter) that has a flow-restricting switch on it so that when I’m soaping up I’m not wasting a lot of water. I also never ever ever leave the water running when I brush my teeth. I hate when people do that! I also don’t turn it on full blast either, I let it trickle so that it’s just the right amount.

  5. Megan permalink
    August 3, 2009

    In addition to some of the above comments, I turn off the shower water while I shave and wear my clothes several times before washing them.

  6. Sheryl permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I have two rain barrels to water my gardens and the only time my lawn is watered is when my dogs get their baths (using a natural biodegradable shampoo). The yard is landscaped with drought resistant/tolerant plants and mulched to prevent water loss. The faucets are all low flow, the toilet will be replaced this summer with a water saver toilet and leaks are promptly repaired. Laundry is done in a front loader to reduce the amount of water by about 40%.

  7. Jorge G Hipólito permalink
    August 3, 2009

    Normalmente, campanhas educativas buscam reduzir o consumo. Mas, paralelamente, outras pessoas se deliciam nas piscinas sem qualquer preocupação. Incoerência?

  8. Chris S permalink
    August 3, 2009

    We have livestock, so the pastures have water holes that collect rain runoff. I’d like to get a solar/wind pump system to collect ground water to supplement the water holes.

    We have a deep well to supply the house and water is returned to the land it was taken from via dry well for “grey water” & septic system for “black water”, not shipped off to be treated & then pumped into a stream or river. Rain water can be diverted from the roof into a rainbarrel or cistern if needed, but so far that hasn’t been needed.

    The creek that runs through our farm is protected by a vegetated buffer that is home to all sorts of birds & critters, so nutrients from the pastures feed grass & shrubs before it ever reaches the stream.

  9. Sebastian Eilert, Architect permalink
    August 3, 2009

    Great question. There are so many ways to save water and it is so desperately needed to be saved. I see water as the next oil. the difference: we NEED water to survive.

    To start, eliminate any water waste, such as small drips. If you think this is only a minor drip, collect it overnight. Your container will likely overflow…

    No/low budget: Eliminate water waste for landscaping, carwash and other uses. Only use water when it is needed. Try to time the shower to 5 minutes (sand watch will work great) and turn off the water when shaving, brushing your teeth. Next up, retrofit your toilet tank with a dual flush kit. This will reduce the water use by up to 40% for your toilets.
    Mid budget: Replace faucets and shower heads with low flow options. Again, only use what you need. That 20 minute shower is not necessary think about living on a boat or an island and you only have the water you collect. Use it accordingly. Everywhere.
    High budget: replace your water heater with an on demand heater. This will also help save you money in your electric bill (unless you have a gas heater) and will reduce the wastes water while you wait “for the hot to arrive…” Install a rain collection barrel for your landscape irrigation needed.

    Of course, upgrade your plants to be less thirsty and more appropriate to the natural type of plants for your area.

  10. Robbie Robertson permalink
    August 3, 2009

    Number one cause for wasted water is through a Leaking toilet. Like many others, I would love to conserve water, but I am not financially able to spends hundreds of dollars on fancy toilets that are not guaranteed to save water. I did however, come across a product that notifies the homeowner of a toilet leak. The LeakAlertor is a small unit that sticks to the outside of your toilet and mathematically calculates the turbulance inside your toilet. The cost is very inexpensive for the amount of technology and water this unit saves.

  11. Matt the Dirt Guy permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I never knew people actually let the water run while brushing their teeth or shaving until this issue came up. Just the way I was raised, thanks to mom & dad.

    I do have a small lawn, but it only gets 15 minutes of water every third morning. I top dress it periodically with Pozzolan, a naturally porous mineral that stores water until it’s needed. I also incorporate this and other organic practices into the rest of my gardening. Decorative beds get one good drink every 4-6 days depending on temps, this goes for most of my container grown veggies as well (mature tomatoes seem to need it every 2-3 days depending on temps).

    Not much rainfall in my area, so rain barrels are not terribly effective, but drip irrigation would help my situation and is definitely on the to-do list.

  12. Anonymous permalink
    August 3, 2009

    “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Seriously. Not to be vulgar, but there are times you don’t really need to flush.

  13. s.zeki keskin permalink
    August 3, 2009

    we can re-win used potable water with a basic equipment at that case water basin which we use in our house (as kitchen, shower,ext.) will be create a new basic design. The design includes are a few seperate basin for a different use. (a section of the wash basin will be chemical use (as some cleaning material),another section vegetable and fruit cleaning,ext.,a section of the shower basin will be cleaning and another section for only shower) so used water will be refined with a basic water recyle system at home. The system will be covered a water tank section, a water filtred section,a water pump.
    maybe seems a big dream, but it is possible.The scale will be at home scale or more than home scale (as zip, town,ext.)
    I am so sorry why my english level.I hope that I explane my soluation to you.
    Best Regards,
    S.Zeki Keskin

  14. MMP permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I have a mad dream of recycling the used water.

  15. envirostudent permalink
    August 3, 2009

    “if it’s yellow, let it mellow. if it’s brown, flush it down.”

    haha it’s a silly little saying but i convinced my mom to try to skip flushes when we can. our water bill is only 2/3s of last years at this time.

    also, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator. this way, you don’t let the water run to get cold from the faucet.

  16. Keri Harker permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I set a 4 minute timer when I shower to keep my shower time down. I timed myself one day, and my shower was over 10 minutes long! I cut my time by more than half, not only saving water, but I get an extra few minutes of sleep!

  17. rammohan prattipati permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I open the tap whether in the rest room, kitchen or wherever including those in public places and in the hotels/guest houses only to the barest extent it is really really needed.

    I repeatedly tell my family members to follow the same

    I write letters to the editor/articles to make governmental bureaucracy, farmers, NGOs, the general public etc more water conservation conscious.

  18. Joan permalink
    August 3, 2009

    Your idea is a good one. It would be great if we could recycle and re-use water at home…some of the water that goes down the sink could be recycled for flushing the toilet or watering the yard.
    Any genius inventors out there want to suggest a way to do this?

  19. jamesatkinson permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I noticed waterless urinals in mens rooms lately. How do they work?


  20. James Atkinson permalink
    August 3, 2009

    How do waterless urinals work?

  21. Tree Huggr Grrl permalink
    August 3, 2009

    I forgot to mention earlier . . . I also save the water from my dehumidifier and use it on my potted plants. I get about 100-120 ounces running it 2 hours on 2 hours off, for a total of 6 hours run time over night.

  22. Johnny R. permalink
    August 3, 2009

    The best way to save the most water is by peacefully reducing the human population, thereby reducing demand.

  23. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    August 3, 2009

    California is now in the third year of a drought. We have had below average rain since about 2004 when we had a huge El Nino. The water districts in southern California are putting in voluntary and mandatory water use reductions. My condo is fitted out with limited use water fixtures and appliances. We don’t have lawns but the complex is set in a large open green space. The biggest cost the Homeowners’ Association has is water for the landscaping. I am da member of the Association Board of Directors and I have been able to get the support of the other Board members and the Property Management company to put in a recycled water system for the landscape by putting a supply line from the water district’s recycled water supply line down to our complex. Our water district is Moultan Niguel and it has no recycled water lines around here. But Moultan Niguel likes the idea of us having a recycled water system and the Santa Margarita Water District does have a recycled water supply line that runs along the road by the complex. Moultan Niguel is planning or is talking with Santa Margarita on making thatline a union line that would be used by both districts and would allow us access to a recycled water supply. At the same time in another section of south Orange County, Santa Margarita would like to offer recycled water supply to thier customers but Moultan Niguel has the supply line. So there would be two union recycled water supply lines. Meantime, we have began preparing for a recycled water irrigation system by completing the process of putting down a thick layer of mulch around all the trees and flower beds so they will hold water longer and will need to be watered less. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  24. Jackenson Durand permalink
    August 3, 2009

    The are multiple way to a citizen to save water.
    One of the best tactic is to avoid home utilities too dirty.
    Also, amount of water spend in shower time.
    Flushing toilet also very important.
    In the way to instruct future generation growing up.

  25. JYOTSANA permalink
    August 4, 2009

    I think we can have this in control if we make sure that yes this much of water is supposed to be use by me…well we can easily the wastage of water when we are washing our cars or other vehicles using pipes system …by this way we are not able to know that how much water we are actually wasting…as we usually keep that pipe aside while we are washing our vehicles with soap i suggest that we should have little containers or bucket around us so we are also able to know how much actually we are wasting

  26. Aditya jain permalink
    August 4, 2009

    The water which can be used is not distributed equal in any area. So most of the people where water is more used water very roughly. Now my 1st point we are now very selfish person so we are not thinking of any other person so better way to save water is the water which we daily use in bathing, clothing, and many other use is gone out in drainage but we have to recycle this water by recycle machine and that water is not 100% pure so we use this water in clothing and other purposes. From that way we can save 50% water. But 50% water we can save by making a tub in every field were we require most of water. So that we not overflow most of water.

  27. Johnny R. permalink
    August 4, 2009

    Recycling water would be the answer for a smaller population, but it keeps growing, so everything must be in short supply until nothing is left and people are forced to migrate, as it has been down through the history of rising and falling civilizations.

  28. Johnny R. permalink
    August 4, 2009

    In the sci-fi film “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, the visitor’s family on his home planet walked around with recycling backpacks that instantly recycled their bodily secretions. At that time Earth was known as “the planet of water”. But if the human population keeps growing to consume and trash everything, we may each of us have our own R-Packs. “A growing economy on a shrinking planet has no future.”

  29. A Y permalink
    August 4, 2009

    I collect water from my shower in a bucket and when I flush the toilet, I use the collected water since I don’t think the water from the shower is really that dirty. Besides, it also includes shampoo and soap ingredients which might clean the toilet bowl. If I do take a bath in a bathtub, the water will again be used for the similar purpose. It might take some work transport water from the shower/tub to the toilet tank, but I think it’s worth it to reuse the water that way.

  30. Aniket Patil permalink
    August 5, 2009

    The best way to save water and make our lives free of the inconvienence caused due to scarcity of water is Rain Water Harvesting The rain water which comes to the ground should be saved and not let it go to reach sea water. According to the estimates of W.M.S. at least 250 gallons of water
    This according to me is one more way to save water in addition to above fabulous ideas of people

  31. Matt permalink
    August 5, 2009

    I think Cosmo Kramer already tried this shower system a few years back.

  32. Matt permalink
    August 5, 2009

    Sounds like a good plan. Why don’t you get the ball rolling. I’m sure others will follow.

  33. Dr. Spaceman permalink
    August 5, 2009

    SHOWERS vs BATHS – The amount of water used when taking a shower is SIGNIFICANTLY less than if you filled up an entire bath tub (which takes about 50 gallons to fill). Don’t forget to install your low flow shower heads and save the American Idol auditions for your car and not your shower!!

    PRERINSING FOR DISHWASHERS – Before you put your dinner plates into the dishwasher, DO NOT rinse them in the sink. This is not necessary and will save water! Simply scrape off excess food scraps in to the garbage (or hopefully your home composter) and let the dishwasher do the dirty work.

    DIY RAINWATER COLLECTION SYSTEM – Collecting rainwater runoff from your roof has many advantages. First you’re reducing the amount of rainwater that could be carrying lawn pesticides and other toxins down the street drains. Secondly this water can be reused to water in-house or outdoor plants. VISIT the link below to see how to make your own rainwater collection system by recycling old plastic buckets and drums.

  34. Somebody permalink
    August 5, 2009

    …Another good way is try not to use water in the first place. Then you don’t have to worry about using as little as possible. For instance, if you accidentally cut yourself with a knife, don’t stick your finger in running water, just use a tissue.

  35. Bonnie Aylor permalink
    August 8, 2009

    One way is to use the dishwasher instead of washing your dishes by hand. This way you only have to wash them once the dishwasher is full and the dishwasher uses less, instead of filling up the sink once or twice a day. Another is by taking short showers rather than baths, basically you only use as much water as you need. A third way is to visit the community pool or the beach/local water hole instead of owning and maintaining your own private pool. Water your plants only once a week, and trying to use the weather pattern to plant/transplant new plants, do the labor right before a rain so that the environment can water them for you naturally.

  36. BewaterWise Rep permalink
    August 10, 2009

    Good question and an issue that needs much awareness. Water can be saved in several ways like – turning off the faucets when brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, checking for leaks in the plumbing etc. For simple yet inexpensive tip on how to save water at home visit don’t forget to spread the conservation message around.

  37. ChaseR permalink
    August 11, 2009

    That is a great answer. I would tell people that were carelessly running the water ” Do you realize how much water you are wasting?” “Do you realize how fortunate you are to have that water?” If your survival depended on an individual well in drought season, you would realize the value of water.

  38. sandeep permalink
    August 13, 2009

    having 65-70% on our planet of water why to save,better make it perfect for the needs which we want

  39. Julie Reavis permalink
    August 29, 2009

    We use ALL our shower water on landscape plants. NONE of it goes down the sewer. Our family uses a product that extracts the gray water continuously as you are showering and pumps it through the wall onto landscape plants. It has a remote that hangs from our towel rack that turns the pump on and off. It’s very simple and convenient and saves us real $$$$$$!!

  40. Sharon permalink
    September 17, 2009

    For one, in the shower we get wet, soap up, turn off the water, and wash. We then turn back on the water and rinse off, same with shampoos. Any leftover, soapy water from the kitchen is used in the yard. For the wash we are buying the tumble type which uses less water. In California we are on Drought Watch so we are restricted as to how much our water meters can read.

  41. Mariam permalink
    October 6, 2009

    Aside from what most of us already try to do, I conserve water by opting to get artifical grass be placed in my front yard instead of having to waste water on grass.

  42. Sakura permalink
    November 18, 2009

    every day i used to take a HOUR TO SHOWER but now i only take from 8-10 mins. and im still trying to get quicker!

  43. Shadows of Pikes Peak permalink
    November 22, 2009

    When I wash my truck, I park it on the lawn so that the water that I use goes onto the lawn, not down the street.

  44. rabbi permalink
    September 28, 2010

    Thank you very much for giving us such type of information.
    We can only make people think. We cannot change people’s taste. For this reason, it is a good idea to concentrate on the performance.

  45. Rain Barrels permalink
    October 19, 2010

    water efficiency is a global matter. you can save a lot of cash of you know how to use rain barrels.

  46. jessica.sindhav permalink
    May 15, 2013

    there is no questions on save water

  47. Gaurav permalink
    June 25, 2014

    i save water by using less amount of water to bath,dont open the tap

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