Conserve Water and Save Money

Simple ways to save water and utility costs

United State Drought Map

Click on the image to see what the conditions are in your neighborhood.
Image credit: National Drought Mitigation Center

We have herd a lot in the news lately of the drought in the western portion of our Nation, especially in California.  Even here in the Northeast portion of the United States, we have had a relatively dry April.  So much for “April showers bring May flowers…”.  While our landscapes currently look relatively stress-free, not having the Spring moisture now may portend of later challenges with our groundwater water supply.

Only time will tell; however, it is never a bad idea to conserve where we can.  In the process we will save water, and save on utility costs too. 

Here is a list of easy steps to take to conserve water:

In the kitchen:

  1. Use your dishwasher if you have one. Contrary to popular belief, it takes more water to hand-wash dishes than it takes to wash them in the dishwasher. Moreover, wait to use your dishwasher until it is full, thus operating it less frequently.

  2. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes. Scrape food from plates, and let your dishwasher do the rest. You’ll use the same amount of water whether you run a full load or a partial load.

  3. aeratorInstall a faucet aerator. It screws onto the bottom of your faucet to reduce water flow, without reducing water pressure. You can even get some that swivel to allow you to direct the water where you need it. Note: If you have a newer faucet, it most likely already has one built-in.

  4. Keep drinking water in your fridge. Unless you like room-temperature water (and some people do), place a pitcher in your refrigerator. Then you won’t waste water while you wait for the tap water to get cold at the faucet. This works well if you have a pitcher with a water filter. Another option: Fill a cup with tap water, and drop in a couple of ice cubes to chill it.

  5. Heat water on the stove or in the microwave. Then you won’t waste water while you wait for the tap to get hot.

  6. Install a point-of-use water heater. If you regularly need hot water for pots, dishwashing and hot drinks, consider installing a point-of-use hot water heater (also known as an instant hot water system) under the kitchen sink. It’ll supply you with hot water as soon as you turn on the tap, and only costs a couple hundred dollars.

  7. Use your disposal as little as possible. If you have a garden, compost your food waste, or throw it in the trash. Both are water-free options.

In the bathroom:

low flow shower head

  1. Switch to a low-flow shower head. Low-flow shower heads use 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and less; older models use as much as 5.5 gpm. Make the switch and you could reduce your water bill by over 25%.

  2. Take shorter showers. Aim for a five-minute shower. With a low-flow showerhead you’ll use 12.5 gallons of water or less. Compare that to 37.5 gallons for a 15-minute shower, and the savings is pretty easy to see. Or, just cut your shower time by 4 minutes. Doing so can save you almost 4000 gallons of water in a year. This can also save you money on your electric or fuel bill.

  3. Take a shower instead of a bath. It can take 35 gallons of water to fill the average bathtub. Switch to a five-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead, and you’ll save 22.5 gallons each time you scrub up!

  4. Repair faucet leaks. A leaky faucet can waste 1000-2000 gallons of water a year.

  5. Turn the water off while you brush or shave.Less flow time equals less water used.

  6. Check toilets for leaks. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 500 gallons of water each day! Place a dye tablet (free at home improvement stores) in the toilet tank, and watch to see if the dye seeps into the bowl. If it does, you have a leak that needs to be addressed.

  7. Replace your toilet flapper once a year. Toilet flappers break down quickly, and should be replaced once a year – even if they say they’re good for longer. A couple dollars spent on a replacement flapper will save you much more on your water bill.

  8. Install a fill cycle diverter. Save another 1/2 gallon per flush by installing a fill cycle diverter in each of your toilets. This simple add-on costs less than a dollar, and is designed to divert overflow water back to the tank during the fill cycle.

  9. Place a bottle in the toilet tank. Fill a bottle with water, and place it in the toilet tank. It’ll displace water, and cause the tank to fill with less water. Just how much water will this save? An amount equal to the size of the bottle that you placed in the tank. A 20 oz. bottle, for example, will save 20 oz. of water per flush. This will add up over the course of the year. A brick will work just as well as a bottle

  10. Switch to a low-flow toilet. When it’s time to replace your toilet, replace it with a low-flow model that uses 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to a traditional toilet of the past 25 years, which uses 3.6 gallons per flush. If you have toilets older than say, from the early to mid 1980’s, they may use 5 gallons or more per flush.

In the laundry room:

  1. Only wash full loads. You’ll save water, and wear and tear on your machine.

  2. Wear clothes more than once. Pants and outwear usually don’t get very dirty. Unless you perspired heavily in them, wear them twice before washing, and you’ll cut down on your water use and your housework.

  3. Upgrade to a high-efficiency laundry washer. A high-efficiency laundry washer can be as much as three times as efficient as a regular washer. Upgrade when your current washer dies, and enjoy the savings.

Around the house:

  1. Utilize grey water. Save unused drinking water, capture water while you’re waiting for the shower to heat up and hang on to your cooking water – then use it to water your plants.

  2. Insulate pipes. Cover your hot water pipes with foam insulation to prevent heat loss. The payoff: less time waiting for hot water at the faucet and less water waste.

  3. Place your water heater close to where you need to use hot water. This may not be as simple to do in an existing house; but if you can, be sure to take into consideration that the shorter the distance the water has to travel, the faster you’ll have hot water and the less energy loss.

  4. Install a hot water circulation system. This relatively inexpensive system (just a couple hundred dollars) uses a pump to pull hot water from the hot water heater faster, and returns cooler water from the pipes to the water heater for reheating.

  5. Install a tankless water heater. When it’s time to replace your water heater, consider upgrading to a tankless unit (also known as an on-demand water heater), it heats water faster and only when you need it – a water savings and an energy savings. (Note: there is a difference between a point-of-use water heater and a tankless water heater.)

Outdoors:

  1. dropCollect rainwater for plants. Attach rain barrels to the end of your gutter drain spouts to collect rainwater. Then, use it to water your plants and to wash your car.

  2. Water with soaker hoses. Use a soaker hose to water the plants in your yard, and you’ll have precise control of where the water goes – and more importantly – where it doesn’t. You will also lose less to evaporation.

  3. Use a wading pool instead of a sprinkler. Fill a wading pool for your kids, instead of letting them play in the sprinkler. They can splash around for hours without the continuous flow of water.

  4. If stock is available, choose drought-resistant plants for your landscape. Then, let the rain handle all of the watering.

  5. Mulch your garden and flower beds. Mulch reduces evaporation, ensuring that your plants get the full benefit of rainwater and your waterings.

  6. Sweep sidewalks and driveway instead of washing them down. A little sweeping action can save a lot of water – as much as 80 gallons a year.

  7. Wash your car less often. It takes up to 100 gallons of water to wash a car. The Environmental Protection Agency says it can take over 500 gallons. Either way, that’s a lot of water to devote to car washing.

  8. Take your car to a car wash (especially one that recycles its water).You’ll eliminate 100 gallons (or more) of water from your water bill each time you take your car to a car wash, and if you choose a facility that recycles water, you’ll be saving the environment too.

Need assistance? Should you desire to do any of the above but would prefer to have a professional take care of it for you, contact us at Brubaker Inc. at 717.299.5641 or email us to schedule a service call.


Sources:

1. Save Money on Your Water Bill.  About.com About Money
2. Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Water Bill.  U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 16, 2012
3. Home Drinking Water – Quality and Treatment.  National Sanitation Foundation
4. Water — Use It Wisely.  Water — Use It Wisely Campaign