I wish I had managed to take a picture of my son when he arrived at school this week and splashed in every puddle he could find. We were whooping all the way to School as we saw streaks of lightning flash across a black sky and rain pouring down so heavily it created rivers along the side of the road.
We were celebrating the storm because for the past year we’ve been experiencing the most severe drought on record in our hometown, beautiful Cape Town. Fortunately, our Winter rains have come early and dam levels are starting to rise again (though they are still only at 30%). Will these rains mark the end of our drought? Who can say? Authorities are doubtful.
One thing I know for sure, Capetonians have learned how to conserve water at home these past few months. Which is why I welcomed this guest post from regular Guest Poster, Gwen Lewis.
I’ll drop in a few of water conservation tricks we’ve implemented in our own home these past few months too. You’ll find them in italics.
Drastic times call for drastic measures.
Creative Ways to Save Water at Home
Guest Post by Gwen Lewis
While water is one of Earth’s most valuable resources, it is also a common source of energy waste within many households. As such, it is important for you to do all that you can to help protect the planet.
Even the smallest steps can lead to the greatest impacts.
Here are a few simple ways to conserve water at home.
#1 Fix Leaks
Every drop counts when it comes to saving water at home. This is why it is so important to fix leaks around the home as soon as possible. Unaddressed leaks can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day and they can even cause physical damage to your home.
Therefore, if you have a dripping faucet or a leak underneath a sink, remedy the leak as soon as possible. The same is true for leaking toilets.
If you are unsure of whether or not you have a toilet leak, place a drop of food colouring in your toilet’s tank. Wait a few moments. If the colour shows up in the bowl and you have not flushed it, then you have a leak.
Consult with a local plumber or repair technician for complex leaks and major plumbing issues.
We’ve gone a couple of steps further than this. We noticed one of our toilets was leaking quite early on in the drought. My husband fixed the leak himself but we made a decision to switch off the flushing mechanisms of both toilets.
We’ve also taken the drain pipe below the basin in our downstairs off so that when we wash our hands in the baisin it drips directly into a bucket below. We throw this water directly into the toilet bowl to flush the toilet manually.
#2 Turn off the Faucet While Brushing Teeth
The average American household consumes about 300 gallons (1135 litres) of water per day.
Compare this to the restrictions imposed on Capetonians right now: the average household (of 4) is limited to 200 litres of water a day (50 litres per person).
Unfortunately, much of this water is simply washed down the drain. As such it is important to take advantage of every opportunity to prevent wasted water in your home.
One great way to do this is to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. According to studies, the average household can save four gallons per minute by simply turning off the faucet while brushing.
You can even make this a household practice and have the entire family take this one simple step to save gallons of water from being wasted.
#3 Take Timed Showers & Forgo Tub Baths
Another great way to save water in the bathroom is by taking timed showers. The typical tub bath uses about 30 gallons of water per use whereas a short five-minute shower will only use about 10-25 gallons of water.
To ensure you stick to your schedule place a timer on your bathroom counter and try to beat the clock. You can even challenge yourself to take a 2 or 3-minute shower for even more water and cost savings!
We have my son’s baby bath in our shower to catch the water as we shower. We also use that water during the day to flush toilets and mop floors.
#4 Forgo the Garden Hose
When it comes to yardwork, outdoor water waste is just as serious as the waste that occurs indoors and a garden hose is the #1 culprit that can send gallons of precious water down the drain.
You can save water in the yard by using the garden hose less frequently. Garden hoses release about 9 gallons of water per minute, therefore, turn off the hose and try alternative options for doing outside chores instead.
For instance, try sweeping steps and porches instead of rinsing them with the hose. Also, when it comes to watering a garden, use a simple watering can to get the job done instead of running the hose.
The same is true for washing cars. Instead of rinsing your car with the hose opt for a gallon bucket and use far less water instead.
It probably goes without saying, we haven’t washed our cars or watered our gardens at all in months.
#6 Washing Fruits & Vegetables
Another great way to cut down on wasted water at home is by washing fruits and veggies in a bowl rather than letting the water run down the drain to rinse them. This can save many gallons of water while you’re in the kitchen.
Also, you can reuse this same water to nourish your plants. The same is true for nutrient-rich boiled vegetable water that can be re-used to feed your plants.
Not only will your indoor plants be thankful for the attention and care, but so will the entire planet as you save more water for all to enjoy.
When it comes to water conservation at home, consider any of these creative ways to help you protect Earth’s most precious resource today. Your efforts can go a long way for future generations to come.
I’m adding a 7th Water Conservation Tip – desperate times call for desperate measures.
#7 Use Water Wise Cycles on Washing Machine and Dishwasher
In a washing machine, this is usually the Quick 30 Cycle. I usually use the Quick 30 on Cold Wash instead of 30 degrees now and it takes 28 minutes.
We switched from a Cold Wash which takes 90 minutes and uses litres and litres more water and the interesting thing is the clothes and linen come out just as clean as before.
Interestingly, my husband discovered that with our new Water-Saving Dishwasher, it works the other way around. Quick Wash (45 minutes) uses the most water and the least energy. Whereas the long (3.5 hour wash) uses the least water but more electricity. So as often as possible we leave the dishwasher running overnight to conserve water.
About the Author
Gwen Lewis is a writer who lives in California. She has been in the fashion and health industry for years and loves writing on the topic to give tips from experience. In her free time, she loves to stay active and has just taken on learning how to surf.
You can find more of Gwen’s posts on Medium
How much water are you managing to conserve in your home? Are you consciously saving one of our most precious resources?
This is a very informative post.
I follow some of the tips in my home, such as turning off the faucet when brushing, recycling the extra water from the shower to flush the toilet. We do this because we have a pail in the tub which catches extra water.
We don’t have a dishwasher, we wash by hands and I use a small basin to do the washing , so the water is used repeatedly, except for the last wash.
Aside from saving on money, we also conserve water and help the environment.
Aah, wonderful! Sounds like we are on the same page.
Are you also in Cape Town? Or experiencing a drought? Or do you just conserve water to care for the environment?
great article. I have to admit as I look for ways to conserve, protect and in general live better I am guilty of not saving water in most of the areas listed here. As such, I have written the basics down and now have them posted throughout the house as my husband and 3 kids are also violators. We just came out of a drought as well with a couple bad winters without the snow pack in the mountains which usually keeps us in good water all summer. Thank you for the tips (well written BTW) and the gentle reminder to me of some things I can certainly improve around my home!
Oh wow, Corey, I am honoured to think that you’ve posted our tips around the house. So pleased you enjoyed this post and are actually applying our advice in your own home.
I have gotten much better at remembering to turn off the water while I’m brushing my teeth. I’ve been doing it for a few years now and I do believe it makes a difference.
I do take showers most of the time, but I have to say I enjoy a nice warm bath once in a while. However, I don’t do it very often.
Thanks for sharing Wendy. Oh for a hot bath. Whenever we see rain, I remind my son that when it floods and the dams finally fill up, I’ll be celebrating with a hot bubble bath complete with candlelight and champagne. Hehe.