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Conserving Water

Did you know that less than 1% of all the water on Earth can be used by people? The rest is salt water (the kind you find in the ocean) or is frozen. Communities across the country are starting to face challenges in maintaining healthy and affordable water supplies; that's why it's more important than ever to use our water wisely and not waste it. In addition, it takes large amounts of energy to produce and transport clean water and to process waste water.

A typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every day. We can reduce this amount and save money by using water more efficiently -- detecting and fixing leaky faucets, installing high efficiency clothes washers and toilets, and watering the lawn and garden with the minimum amount of water needed.

For the Water Use Checklist, please click here

Water-Efficient Appliances and Fixtures

Most of us know we can save water if we turn off the tap while brushing our teeth (as much as 3,000 gallons per year!), but did you know that there are products that will help save water when the tap is on? WaterSense and ENERGYSTAR®, programs sponsored by EPA, have identified high-performance, water-efficient appliances, fixtures, water systems, and accessories that reduce water use in the home and help preserve the nation's water resources. By saving water, you also save energy; the link is discussed in detail here.

Look for the WaterSense Label

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices.

As communities across the country begin facing challenges regarding water supply and water infrastructure, WaterSense can help consumers identify water-efficient products and programs. The WaterSense label tells the consumer that products and programs that carry the label meet water efficiency and performance criteria, and will help save water, money, and energy.

For more information on EPA's WaterSense program, as well as water saving tips, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/

Toilets

Composting Toilets

Although they take a bit more attention than ordinary toilets, composting toilets can help conserve water and energy, reduce water pollution, and may generate useful garden compost. Check to see if composting toilets are allowed under your local building codes.

Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Toilets also happen to be a major source of wasted water due to leaks and inefficiency.

Older toilets, manufactured before 1992 when the Energy Policy Act mandated water efficient toilets, use up to 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing these toilets with WaterSense labeled toilets could save nearly 2 billion gallons per day across the country. Switching to high-efficiency toilets can save a family of four, on average, $2,000 in water bills over the lifetime of the toilets. There are a number of high-efficiency toilet options, including dual flush technology. Dual flush toilets have two flush volumes-a full flush for solids and a reduced flush for liquids only. Whether you're remodeling a bathroom, building a new home, or simply replacing an old, leaky toilet, a WaterSense labeled toilet is a high-performing, water-efficient option worth considering.

Composting toilets are another option for those who want to be very green. Composting toilets have been an established technology for more than 30 years, and recent advances have made them easy to use and similar in look and feel to regular toilets. As they require little to no water, composting toilet systems can provide a solution to sanitation and environmental problems in unsewered, rural, and suburban areas.

For more information on water efficient toilets for your home, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/het.htm
http://www.epa.gov/owmitnet/pdfs/comp.pdf

Faucets and Showerheads

Faucets

Faucets account for more than 15 percent of indoor household water use-more than 1 trillion gallons of water across the United States each year. WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories can reduce a sink's water flow by 30 percent or more without sacrificing performance. If every household in the United States installed WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets or faucet accessories, we could save more than $350 million in water utility bills and more than 60 billion gallons of water annually-enough to meet public water demand in a city the size of Miami for more than 150 days!

If you are not in the market for a new faucet, consider replacing the aerator in your older faucet with a more efficient one. The aerator-the screw-on tip of the faucet-ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and are an effective water-efficiency measure.

Also keep in mind that you can significantly reduce water use by simply repairing leaks in fixtures-toilets, faucets, and showerheads-or pipes.

Showerheads

Showering accounts for approximately 17 percent of residential indoor water use in the United States-more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water consumed each year. You can purchase quality, high-efficiency shower fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25-60 percent. Select a high-efficiency showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) for maximum water efficiency. Before 1992, some showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm, so you might want to replace older models if you're not sure of the flow rate.

For more information on water-efficient faucets, showerheads, and accessories, got to:
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/bathroom_sink_faucets.html
http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pp/showerheads.htm

Appliances

If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion dollars per year! For instance, the average washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load, and is the second largest water user in your home. High-efficiency washing machines use 35 to 50 percent less water, as well as 50 percent less energy per load. If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR® model to reduce water and energy use. To save more water, look for a clothes washer with a low water factor. A water factor is the number of gallons per cycle per cubic foot that a clothes washer uses. So, if a washer uses 18 gallons per cycle and has a tub volume of 3.0 cubic feet, then the water factor is 6.0. The lower the water factor, the more efficient the washer is.

For more information on water- and energy-efficient appliances, go to:
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=appliances.pr_appliances
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13050

Hot Water Systems

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home. It typically accounts for about 13% of your utility bill, and can account for 14%-25% of the energy consumed in your home. You can reduce your monthly water heating bills by selecting the appropriate water heater for your home or pool-such as tankless, heat pump, or solar hot water heaters-and by using some energy-efficient water heating strategies.

If your water heater's tank leaks, you may need a new water heater. If you are not in the market for a new hot water heater, consider installing an insulation blanket on your water heater tank, and insulate at least the first 3 to 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater. When installing a hot water heater insulation blanket:

  • For electric hot-water storage tanks, be careful not to cover the thermostat.
  • For natural gas or oil hot-water storage tanks, be careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment.
  • Always make sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations

These strategies will help get hot water to you faster, saving thousands of gallons of water per year in each household.

For more information on energy efficient hot water heaters, go to:
Efficient Hot Water Systems and Strategies

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Landscaping and Irrigation

Of the 26 billion gallons of water consumed daily in the United States, approximately 7.8 billion gallons, or 30 percent, is devoted to outdoor uses. The majority of this is used for irrigation. In the summer, the amount of water used outdoors by a household can exceed the amount used for all other purposes in the entire year. This is especially true in hot, dry climates.

Many people believe that stunning gardens and beautiful lawns are only possible through extensive watering, fertilization, and pesticide application. However, eye-catching gardens and landscapes that save water, prevent pollution, and protect the environment are, in fact, easily achieved. The following are some water-efficient landscaping and irrigation methods.

Landscaping

Choose climate-appropriate, drought-tolerant, and native/adapted plant species

The typical suburban lawn consumes 10,000 gallons of water above and beyond rainwater each year. Using native plants and landscape designs that optimize local conditions can reduce irrigation water use, as well as reduce soil erosion, lower maintenance costs, and preserve natural resources.

By making your landscape a GreenScape, you can save time and money by eliminating unnecessary watering. Select plants that grow well in your area of the country and are appropriate given the amount of sun, rainfall, and soil type. Because native plants are adapted to local soils and climatic conditions, they typically do not require fertilizers, and are more resistant to pests and disease. In most climate zones, it makes sense to use low-water plants to save the time and expense of watering. Also, focus on preserving as many existing trees and shrubs as possible because established plants usually require less water and maintenance.

When selecting plants, avoid those labeled "hard to establish," "susceptible to disease," or "needs frequent attention," as these types of plants frequently require greater amounts of supplemental water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Be careful when selecting non-indigenous species, as some of them may be invasive. An invasive plant might be a water guzzler and will surely choke out native species.

Reduce turf grass areas

How and where turf is placed in the landscape has a significant impact on the amount of irrigation water needed to support the landscape. Lawns require a large amount of supplemental water and generally more intensive maintenance than other vegetation. Use turf grass where it aesthetically highlights your house and where it has a practical function, such as in play or recreation areas. Grouping turf areas can increase watering efficiency and significantly reduce evaporative and runoff losses. Select a type of grass that can withstand drought periods and become dormant during hot, dry seasons. Consider replacing Kentucky blue grass (the most common turf outside of the Southern U.S.) with low water grasses. There are now many options widely available that demand up to 2/3 less water. Appropriate amounts of water and the natural dormant periods mean the grass will go brown during the summer, but watering it once a month will allow it to spring back later.

Plant shrubs, trees and other vegetation in place of lawns or bare, eroding areas

Trees, shrubs, or other leafy plants help absorb, intercept and slow down rainfall, thereby reducing runoff. After a rainfall, large quantities of water are retained on the surface of leaves in the form of droplets. Subsequently, plants help control storm water runoff. Plants also absorb carbon dioxide (a principle greenhouse gas), and they help cool the earth's surface; both functions help to reduce global warming.

Re-naturalize your lawn or xeriscape

In many areas of the country, including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest, you can convert areas of your lawn to a more natural landscape by allowing the area to grow as it would if the lawn were not there. Don't mow, fertilize or apply pesticides. Don't rake leaves. Spread mulch if you want to help kill back the grass within the naturalizing area. With time (2-5 years), this will allow native plants to take root, re-establish their presence through succession, as well as help restore natural habitat. This also means you'll use less fertilizer and pesticides and you won't have to mow the re-naturalized area! Although the re-naturalized area may not appear very attractive for a while (and a neighbor may even raise a comment or two), it can help to spread mulch and plant some ornamental plants appropriate for your climate to give the re-naturalizing area a garden-like appearance as it gets established. You can do as much of this as you wish to achieve a happy balance between a totally natural look and a garden look. Once the native vegetation has replaced the lawn, small shrubs, vines, bushes, trees and other natural vegetation will dominate and create a maintenance-free portion of your yard. Eventually the vegetation will grow thick and dense and provide a nice visual screen or green buffer between your home and surrounding properties when leafed-out. Re-naturalized areas help to absorb rainwater better than lawns and can lead to less storm water runoff from your property. Once you have achieved the desired size of the re-naturalized area, you can encircle it with field stone or other edging materials, if you wish.

Also consider re-naturalizing areas with steep slopes, shade, or along streams and lakes, where it takes a lot of extra work to maintain grass. Leaving, or creating, a "buffer" of dense native vegetation along streams and lakes will filter and slow runoff, shade and cool the water, provide homes for wildlife, and prevent stream bank erosion.

In arid parts of the country such as the West, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain regions, consider xeriscaping, a cost-effective and increasing popular landscaping option. Xeriscaping takes many forms but is defined as landscape design tailored to withstand drought conditions, by using draught tolerant plants and grouping plants with similar watering needs. Xeriscaped landscapes also require little or no fertilizer or pesticides, and have lower maintenance needs than lawns.

For more information on water efficient landscaping, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/partnerships/greenscapes/owners.htm
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/docs/ws_watering508.pdf
http://www.lrconline.com/Extension_Notes_English/pdf/Naturalize.pdf Exit EPA Disclaimer
http://www.denverwater.org/cons_xeriscape/xeriscape/xeriscape_index.html Exit EPA Disclaimer

Water-Efficient Irrigation Systems and Practices

With common watering practices, a large portion of the water applied to lawns and gardens is not absorbed by the plants. It is lost through evaporation, runoff, or by watering too quickly or in excess of the plants' needs. Efficient irrigation systems and practices reduce these losses by applying only as much water as is needed to keep your plants and lawn healthy.

Although not watering your lawn, garden, or other landscape is the most water-efficient practice, sometimes irrigation is necessary. Irrigating lawns, gardens, and landscapes can be accomplished either manually or with an automatic irrigation system.

  • Manual watering - Manual watering with a hand-held hose tends to be the most water-efficient method, as households that manually water with a hose typically use 33 percent less water outdoors than those who use an automatic irrigation system. Households with automatic timers use 47 percent more water; those with in-ground sprinkler systems use 35 percent more water; and those with drip irrigation systems use 16 percent more water than households that manually water.

  • Automatic irrigation systems - Drip-type irrigation systems, including water efficient spray heads, are considered the most efficient of the automated irrigation methods because they deliver water directly to the plants' roots. In-ground sprinkler and drip irrigation systems need to be operated and maintained properly to be water-efficient. Install system controllers such as rain sensors that prevent sprinklers from turning on during and immediately after rainfall, or soil moisture sensors that activate sprinklers only when soil moisture levels drop below pre-programmed levels.

    While controllers come in all types of shapes and sizes, the most important features are how well they can be programmed to handle diverse landscape and weather conditions. Consider purchasing one with a weather-based controller. It is also important to revise your watering schedule as the seasons change. Over-watering with automated sprinklers is most common during the spring and fall because irrigation schedules are set to summer watering needs.

Irrigation Practices

Poor Watering

Over-watering a lawn and adjacent paved areas not only consumes unnecessary water, but also wastes energy, since it takes energy to produce and distribute clean water to our homes.

Did you know that watering too much or too little is the cause of many common plant health problems? You can have healthier plants, save money on water bills, and conserve precious water resources by learning to give your lawn and garden just what they need, and no more.

  • Less is more - If you step on your lawn and the grass springs back, it does not need to be watered. In addition to wasting water, over-watering can increase leaching of fertilizers into ground water and can harm your lawn and plants. Watering plants too much and too frequently also results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease, and fungus. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly to conform with seasonal weather conditions.

  • Use alternative sources of water - To further reduce your water consumption, consider using alternative sources of irrigation water, such as gray water, reclaimed water, and collected rainwater via rain barrels. Most of the water we use to irrigate landscapes is treated, potable drinking water. By reducing the amount of drinking water used for landscape irrigation, we reduce the burden on water treatment facilities, which helps reduce the need for water treatment works expansion. Homes with access to alternative sources of irrigation water can reduce their water bills significantly. However, in some drought-prone localities, reclaiming water is not allowed; therefore, check with public health or municipal officials before using alternative sources of water. Information on local water regulations may be available on local government Web sites.

  • Make every drop count - The typical single-family suburban household uses at least 30 percent of their water for irrigation. Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by over-watering. Easy ways to lower water bills and get more water to plants include:

    - Water in the early morning-if you water at mid-day, much of the water just evaporates. Evening watering should be avoided because it can encourage the growth of mold or plant diseases.

    - Water lawns separately from other plantings. Make sure sprinklers are not watering pavement.

    - Water new trees and shrubs longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants, which require smaller amounts of water more often. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems for trees and shrubs. Note: Once established, trees and shrubs in many areas of the U.S. generally do not require any watering, exceptions being arid regions.

    - When using a hose, control the flow with an automatic shut-off nozzle.

    - Minimize or eliminate chemical fertilizing, which artificially promotes new growth that will need additional watering.

    - Raise your lawn mower cutting height - longer grass blades help shade each other, reduce evaporation, and inhibit weed growth.

    - When soil is dry or compacted, it won't absorb water quickly. If water puddles, stop watering until the water has time to soak in.

    - Amend your soil with compost and mulch to hold water and reduce evaporation.

    - When outdoor use of city or well water is restricted during a drought, use the leftover water from the bath or sink on plants or the garden. Don't use water that contains bleach, automatic-dishwashing detergent, fabric softener, or other chemicals.

    - In a dry spell, you can also allow an established lawn to go dormant in non-arid parts of the country. Water just once a month and brown areas of the lawn will bounce back in the fall.

For more information on EPA's GreenScapes program for homeowners and WaterSense irrigation partners, go to:
GreenScaping for homeowners
Water- or sensor-based Irrigation controls
Landscape irrigation services
Water efficient irrigation brochure

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Managing Stormwater

Rain rushes off roofs, pavement and compacted soil in developed areas. This rush of stormwater causes flooding downstream, erodes soil and stream banks, and muddies the water, which harms fish and other wildlife. Stormwater picks up chemicals, debris, dirt, and other pollutants and flows into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters most storm sewer systems is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and providing drinking water. Reducing irrigation water use, in combination with reducing impervious surface areas and pollutants such as pesticides, helps to minimize the negative impacts of stormwater runoff.

Let the Rain Soak In

Porous paving bricks

Porous paving bricks and pervious parking areas can help reduce storm water runoff by allowing rainwater to soak into the ground.

You can help slow runoff and help the soil hold the moisture plants need in summer by directing downspouts out into lawns, rain gardens, or rain barrels; and limiting impervious "hardscape" surfaces.

  • Raingardens - Raingardens (PDF) (32 pp, 2.9MB, About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimerare landscaped areas designed to soak up rainwater from your roof, driveway, and/or lawn. These gardens collect rainwater runoff and filter and slowly release it into the ground, and typically can retain 30 percent more rainwater than a conventional patch of lawn. By reducing the volume and velocity of storm water runoff, rain gardens help reduce soil erosion, filter fine particulates, and capture fertilizer and excess nutrients that can pollute rivers and lakes. Planting dense strips of native trees, shrubs and groundcovers next to streams, lakes and ditches helps to stabilize the soil and to slow and filter runoff.

  • Mulch - Mulch is a layer of organic material like leaves, aged wood chips, or grass clippings that you spread around your plants. In the Rocky Mountains and Southwest, rock mulches are preferable. Mulch stabilizes soil temperature, prevents weeds, adds nutrients to the soil to help feed plants, and helps to conserve water. Mulch can be used in and around:

    - Flower beds and vegetable gardens

    - Trees, shrubs and woody perennials

    - Lawns - Mulch your lawn? Yes, you can "grasscycle" (leave the clippings on the lawn when mowing). The clippings quickly decompose and release valuable nutrients back into the soil to feed the grass, reducing the need for fertilizer by 25 to 50 percent.

  • Compost - Compost helps sandy soils hold nutrients and water, loosens clay soils, and feeds the beneficial soil life so it can feed and protect your plants. You can make your own compost at home, or buy it in bags or bulk.

  • Limit impervious surfaces - Use porous pavement, gravel paving blocks, or other pavement options that let rain seep into the soil, in place of asphalt and traditional concrete. Porous pavement is a special type of pavement that allows rain and snowmelt to pass through it, thereby reducing the runoff from a site and surrounding areas. In addition, porous pavement can filter pollutants from the runoff.
Rain gardens

Rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff from roofs and impervious surfaces.

Capture Rainwater

Another alternative is to collect rainwater from rooftops in rain barrels - mosquito-proof containers that collect and store rainwater that would otherwise wind up in storm drains and streams. Rain provides free "soft water" to homeowners-containing no chlorine, lime or calcium-making it ideal for gardens, flower pots, and car and window washing. A rain barrel can also be used to collect water and store it for when you need it most-during periods of drought-to water plants, wash your car, or to top off a swimming pool. A rain barrel will save the average homeowner about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months, or 40% of total household water use. In some drought-prone regions, rain barrels may not be legal, so check with local authorities before using them.

Reduce fertilizer and pesticide use

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute streams and water bodies. In addition, yard clippings and leaves can wash into storm drains and contribute excessive nutrients and organic matter to the watershed. Use chemical pesticides and fertilizers sparingly and always in strict accordance with the application directions. Use compost and other non-toxic alternatives whenever possible. For more information about pesticide use in your lawn and garden, go to: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/controlling/garden.htm.

Rain barrels

Rain barrels are a cost-effective way to collect and store water for garden and lawn irrigation and other purposes. Check to see if rain barrels are permitted in your area.

For more information on managing stormwater around your home, go to:
Stormwater overview
GreenScaping
Porous pavement
Rain barrels
Composting

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Water Use and Energy

You may wonder what water use and energy have to do with each other. In most cases, electricity or gas are used to heat water, and this costs you money. In addition, your water utility uses energy to purify and pump water to your home, as well as treat sewage generated by the community. Currently, about eight percent of U.S. energy demand goes to treating, pumping, and heating water, which is enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes for an entire year. Water heating also accounts for 19 percent of home energy use.

By reducing your household water use, you not only reduce your water bill, but you also help to reduce the energy required to pump and treat public water supplies. In addition, by reducing water use and saving energy in the process, you are decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases produced to generate electricity, thereby helping to address climate change. In fact:

  • If just 1 percent of American homes replaced an older toilet with a new WaterSense labeled toilet, the country would save more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity-enough electricity to power more than 43,000 households for one month.

  • If one out of every 100 American homes were retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year-avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That is equivalent to removing nearly 15,000 automobiles from the road for one year!

  • If 20 percent of U.S. homes used high-efficiency clothes washers, national energy savings could be 285 billion BTUs per day - enough to supply the energy needs of over one million homes.

Water use and energy use are closely related!

For more information on how water use impacts your energy bills, go to:
Benefits of water efficiency
Water efficiency in the home
Reduce hot water use for energy savings
Saving water saves energy: make the drops-to-watts connection

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Home Maintenance and Household Practices

Below are home maintenance strategies and everyday household practices to help you conserve water. By making just a few small changes, you can save a significant amount of water, which will help you save money and preserve water supplies for current and future generations.

Maintenance

Inside the House

  • Fix Leaks - You can significantly reduce water use by simply repairing leaks in fixtures (faucets and showerheads), pipes, and toilets. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons per day. That would be like flushing your toilet more than 50 times for no reason!

  • If your water heater tank leaks, you may need a new water heater.

Lawn, Garden, and Outdoors

Lawn and Garden

  • Avoid over-watering your lawn or garden. Using moisture sensors to determine watering needs is a better strategy than using a fixed schedule or estimating watering needs based on rainfall. In addition to wasting water, over-watering can increase leaching of fertilizers into groundwater, and can harm your lawn and plants.

  • Water new trees and shrubs longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants, which require smaller amounts of water more often. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.

  • Position automatic sprinklers to water the lawn and garden only-not the street or sidewalk.

  • Water your lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best). Watering when it's hot and sunny is wasteful because most of the water evaporates before the plants have time to absorb it. Also avoid watering on windy days.

  • When using a hose, control the flow with an automatic shut-off nozzle.

  • Minimize or eliminate chemical fertilizing, which artificially promotes new growth that will need additional watering.

  • Raise your lawn mower cutting height - longer grass blades help shade each other, reduce evaporation, and inhibit weed growth.

  • When outdoor use of city or well water is restricted during a drought, use the leftover water from the bath or sink on plants or the garden. Don't use water that contains bleach, automatic-dishwashing detergent, fabric softener, or other chemicals.

  • Incorporate compost into the soil to help improve water absorption and retention.

  • Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and to cut down on weed growth.
Other Outdoor Uses

  • Wash your bike or car with a bucket and sponge instead of a hose to save water. A hose can waste 6 gallons per minute if you leave it running, but using a bucket and sponge only uses a few gallons. Alternatively, consider using a commercial car wash that recycles its water, rather than letting it run off into sewer drains.

  • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation when a pool is not being used. Consider purchasing a new water-saving swimming pool filter.

  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off.

Daily Practices

Bathroom

  • Do not let water run unnecessarily. Letting your faucet run for five minutes while shaving or brushing teeth uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours, and uses up to 8 gallons of water a day!

  • Take short showers instead of tub baths. A shower only uses 10 to 25 gallons, while a bath takes up to 70 gallons! If you do take a bath, be sure to plug the drain right away and adjust the temperature as you fill the tub.

Kitchen and Laundry

  • Wash only full loads of laundry or dishes, and select the appropriate water level or load size option on the washing machine or dishwasher.

  • Do not use water to defrost frozen foods; thaw foods in the refrigerator overnight.

  • Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.

  • Compost food waste instead of using the garbage disposal or throwing it in the trash.

  • Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.

For more information on household water conservation, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/water/simple.htm
http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/res.htm

New Homes

Building or buying a new home is a big decision and the resulting environmental impacts can be big, too. But soon it will be easy to make water-efficient choices just by looking for the EPA WaterSense label when you build or buy a new home. WaterSense labeled new homes will be designed to reduce water consumption by incorporating the latest water-saving technologies that meet criteria for both reducing indoor and outdoor water use, and by educating homeowners about water efficiency. On average, a WaterSense labeled new home will be designed to use about 20 percent less water per year than similar new homes today.

Stay tuned for the latest news about WaterSense New Homes by visiting the WaterSense Web site.

If you're building a new home, consider the following ways to save water and money on your utility bills:

  • Install a pressure-regulating valve to reduce the pressure of water entering your house to 60 pounds per square inch (psi). This helps with leaks, saves water and money, and can lower the chance of damage from burst pipes.

  • Insulate hot water pipes. This gets hot water to the user quicker, reducing the amount of water wasted and decreasing your utility bills.

  • Design the hot water system to minimize the distance between the hot water heater and each fixture (faucets, showers, appliances). Two systems that can help are recirculating and manifold systems, or you can accomplish this by centrally locating the water heater instead of putting it in a garage or other far away area of the home.

  • Install WaterSense labeled fixtures, which perform as well as or better than their less efficient counterparts.

  • Install ENERGY STAR qualified appliances, and look for a clothes washer with a water factor of 6 or less.

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Quick Tips to Conserve Water:
Low and No Cost Ways to Start Saving Water Today!
  • Use only the water you need. Do not let faucets or sprinklers run unnecessarily.
  • Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Water your lawn during the coolest part of the day , and avoid over-watering your lawn or garden.
  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off.
  • Fix leaks , including leaky toilets, pipes, & fixtures (faucets & showerheads).
Water Retrofit Quick Tips:
  • If your toilet was made/installed before 1992, replace it with a WaterSense labeled toilet.
  • If your water heater tank leaks or otherwise needs replacing, replace it with a new efficient water heater.
  • To save water & energy, consider an ENERGYSTAR model when purchasing a new dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Visit the hardware store. Buy high-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators, as needed.
  • If you have an automated irrigation system, install a smart controller.

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