Saving Water at Home

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There are a number of easy fixes we can all do that will save water, energy, and money.

Fixing leaks and installing water-saving devices in your home could save tens of thousands of gallons of water each year.

Update Plumbing Fixtures & Save

If your plumbing fixtures were installed in the early 1990s or before, you probably have fixtures that guzzle water.

Replace old plumbing fixtures with WaterSense-labeled products. WaterSense fixtures undergo independent, third-party testing and certification to ensure they meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria for both efficiency and performance. Hundreds of WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories, showerheads, toilets, and urinals are available. Visit www.epa.gov/watersense to check on the ratings of these devices.

By replacing the following six devices with water-conserving models, the average family (2.64 persons) could easily save 109,528 gallons of water per year!

  • Bathroom Faucet: Gallons saved per person per year: 3,285
  • Showerheads: Gallons saved per person per year: 14,600
  • Clothes Washer: Gallons saved per person per year: 8,395
  • Kitchen Faucet: Gallons saved per person per year: 8,212.5
  • Dishwasher: Gallons saved per person per year: 299.3

Save Water Outdoors

  • It takes about 660 gallons of water to supply 1,000 square feet of lawn with one inch of water. To save water, limit the amount of water per zone to ¾ inches.
  • A broken sprinkler head wastes approximately 300 gallons of water in an hour. Regularly inspect for leaks and broken or clogged spray heads.
  • Using an automatic shutoff nozzle on a hand-held hose can be expected to save an estimated 5 to 10% of water used outdoors.
  • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
  • To limit the amount of water used from your hose, sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing them off.
  • Install a rain shut-off device on your irrigation system.
  • Install a rain gauge in your yard to help determine your irrigation needs – aim for ¾ inch of water.
  • Set sprinklers to water the lawn and garden only – not the street or sidewalk. Install moisture sensors on your irrigation systems.
  • Use native plants in your landscaping to lessen or eliminate the need for irrigation.
  • Wash your car with water from a bucket, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Consider purchasing a new water-saving swimming pool filter and use a pool cover to reduce evaporation when the pool is not being used. Between ½ - 1 inch of water normally evaporates per day. More than 1 inch would indicate a considerable amount of splash out or a leak.

Fix Leaks

  • Leaks can account for, on average, 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year, which is enough to fill an in-ground swimming pool. The amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than 1 trillion gallons per year. That's equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily-corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet valves, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don't require a major investment and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.
  • The vast majority of leaks can be eliminated after retrofitting a household with new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances.
  • Leaky faucets can be reduced by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary.

  • Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench.

  • If your toilet is leaking, the cause is most often an old, faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It's usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.

Leak Detection

  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak. See Perform a Water Leak Test for more detailed instructions.
  • One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank.