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How to Save Water at Home

How to Save Water at Home

Earth may be known as the "water planet," but even though about 70 percent of its surface is covered with water, less than one percent of this precious resource is available for human use.

And the effects of climate change--changing precipitation patterns, intense and extreme weather events, reduced snow cover and melting glaciers--are making things more complicated. In more than 40 states, water managers predict shortages over the next decade in at least some part of their state, even if water conditions remain basically the same. It also takes energy to pump, distribute and treat water – which has negative climate impacts due to our use of fossil fuels.

The good news is that there are things we can do right at home to save water. First, we can adopt water conserving habits. Begin with simple things in the kitchen, such as keeping drinking water in the fridge instead of always running the tap until it's cool, installing an aerator on the kitchen faucet to reduce flow, washing fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water rather than under the tap. We can also make sure the dishwasher has a full load before running it, and when replacing an old one, choosing one that uses less water and electricity – try looking for an Energy Star rated model.

When doing laundry, we should run full loads, or pick the appropriate water setting in the washing machine for smaller loads. We can save electricity by washing in cold water and using a drying rack.

In bathroom, where more water flows than anywhere else, try taking shorter showers. By installing a water-saving showerhead we can save a 1/2 gallon of water per minute! Replace the washers in leaky faucets. Old toilets can use as much as six gallons per flush, while new efficient models use 1.28 gallons or less. Easily make an old toilet a bit more efficient with the super-affordable toilet tummy.

Outside, we can modify yard care habits. Water a garden early in the day when evaporation rates are low. Consider making lawns smaller, since they soak up huge amounts of water, and are often over-watered. Replace lawn space with a garden of native plants that are used to your area’s climate and rainfall patterns. Native plants are easy to maintain and don’t require much, if any, watering.

In fact, especially in drought stricken California, more home owners are considering Xeriscaping, an approach to landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for watering.

Over the long run, we can gradually replace water-wasting appliances and fixtures. New toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, faucets, shower heads and hose nozzles are much more efficient. Water consumption ratings for new fixtures can be found at www.epa.gov/watersense, and for electrical energy ratings, check www.energystar.gov

Adopting new habits can be hard, and replacing appliances and fixtures obviously has upfront costs. But saving water isn't about restriction or sacrifice; it's about better managing a precious resource to insure its continuing availability. And by staying with it, and overtime multiplying it by millions of households, the water, energy and money savings can be truly significant.

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