Summertime is almost upon us and it is often during this season where we face drought. As a result of drought, water supply becomes minimal. This is why it’s important to save water before summertime arrives. Did you know that 95 percent of the water entering our homes goes down the drain?
Water conservation is essential, even in regions where water is in abundance. Apart from saving enough water that will last you throughout the summer season, you will also be able to cut your water bills by almost half and you can help minimise water pollution in your local lakes, rivers, and watersheds.
The goal of water conservation is not to cut your water usage short, but to use water wisely. What can we do to save water before and during the summer season?
Water conservation in the home
1 – Check leaks coming from taps and pipes
Leaks can turn into very serious problems when left alone for a very long time, even though may be small and inconsequential at first. At the very least, leaks can cause your water bills to spike. At worst, leaks can be a big contributor to structural damage at home. The integrity of your foundation and walls could deteriorate due to continued exposure to the water coming from leaks.
Some other problems that leaks can cause are low water pressure. This usually happens when the leak is close to the pipes connected to the main water supply. The amount of pressure that it takes to deliver water around your house becomes affected because of the leak. The bigger the leak, the lower the water pressure.
When you notice an excess amount of water coming from underneath your sink, toilet, or even seeping from the walls and ceilings, you’re already dealing with a leak.
Leaky taps that drip at one drop per second can waste up to 10,000 liters of water every year or 833 liters a month. Given the current rate of how much you’re paying for water per kiloliter, you’re wasting almost AU$23.30 of water every year or AU$1.94 per month. That’s just the rate for a leak at one drop per second.
2 – Do not dump anything in the toilet
This is something that most people do. Just because the toilet is designed to dispose of human waste doesn’t mean that it’s also good for disposing of other types of wastes too. Toilet waste goes straight into the sewers, but your non-human waste like toilet paper, wet wipes and cigarette butts can cause blockages in either the sewer pipes or the toilet. This will cause the toilet to waste water because it loses the ability to flush properly.
3 – Check your toilet for leaks
Apart from a faulty flush, your toilet could also leak. This can be caused by a lot of things. The sealant at the bottom of the toilet or any other part of your toilet is cracked, for starters. Your water pipe could also be a good spot for a leak. Older toilets can use 11 litres of clean water with every flush. New toilets use as little as 4 litres per flush.
Considering the average household flushes the toilet 5000 times per year, you’re using up 55,000 liters of water per year if you have an old toilet and 4000 liters for a new one. For an old toilet, that’s roughly AU$128.50 on your water bill every year or AU$10.70 a month. Talk about flushing down money!
Here’s a small tip on how you can check for toilet leaks.
Prepare a small glass of water mixed with food colouring. Any colour will do as long as it’s noticeable. Open your toilet tank and pour in the coloured water. Leave it the toilet alone for 30 minutes or so. When you come back and see that the water in the bowl already has a tint of the food colouring you put into the tank, then you have a leak between the tank and the bowl, which may have already wasted thousands of litres of water without you noticing.
4 – Install water-saving showerheads and low-flow tap aerators
There are a lot of water-saving apparatuses that are available in the market today and there are two that I’d like to make special mention of: A low-flow tap aerator and water-saving showerheads. A low-flow aerator simply restricts the amount of water coming out of the tap. Without an aerator, the tap could run up to more than 11 liters per minute. Installing an aerator can cut your water usage to less than 9 litres per minute. It could mean minimal flow coming out of your tap, but it’s meant to control your water usage and more.
A water-saving showerhead works by cutting your shower time short when the water becomes too hot. Some water-saving showerheads also make water distribution more efficient by adding a spray effect. This allows the showerhead to distribute less water over a greater surface area.
5 – Take shorter showers
Believe it or not, a four-minute water shower uses approximately 75 to 150 liters of water or 18 to 37.5 liters per minute. Taking shorter showers means cutting down the time it takes you use the shower or leave the shower on. You can shower for 30 seconds to get your body wet then turn it off before soaping up. Turn it on again to rinse off the soap.
Let’s work with the minimum and given that in a 4-person household, there’s an average of 10 minutes for shower time per day per person. That’s around 40 minutes of shower per day and you’re using around 720 liters per day. That’s 21,600 liters per month and 259,200 liters per year! For your showers alone, you add another AU$48.72 per month on your water bill. That would total to AU$601.34 per year for an average of 10 minute shower time for for a 4-person household! Cutting your shower time to five minutes would allow you to save as much as AU$300 per year.
6 – Turn off the water in the sink
Some of us like to leave the water running in the kitchen sink or bathroom sink whenever we wash the dishes or brush our teeth. This habit makes you waste more water than you should. Running the tap while you brush your teeth or while you shave can waste about 15 liters of water.When washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, turn off the tap. You don’t really need to use the tap every time you’re soaping up the dish or while you’re brushing. Just turn on the tap when it’s time to rinse.
That’s about 30 liters of water wasted if you use the bathroom sink twice a day. Assuming a 4-person household that uses the bathroom sink twice a day, that’s 120 liters of water per day wasted, totaling to 3,600 liters per month or 43,900 liters per year. How much money are you wasting? That’s AU$8.35 on your water bill every month or a grand total of AU$100.24 a year.
7 – Rinse your razor in the sink
Saving a little amount of water can go a long way, especially during the summer season. Much like brushing your teeth, many men like to keep the water running while they shave so they can rinse their razor every now and then. Again, to save water, you just need to fill your sink with enough water and rinse the razor in it as you shave. Once you’re done, run your razor through flowing water and that’s it.
8 – Use your dishwasher and washing machine for full loads only
Imagine how much water you’re wasting when you use either the dishwasher or washing machine at half the loads they’re designed to take. Most people think that doing small loads can help them save time but in reality, they are just wasting water. Washing machines and dishwashers are used to their maximum potential when they are washing full loads. Water-efficient dishwashers use as little as 15 liters per wash cycle whereas older models can use 49 liters per cycle.
If you use an old dishwasher and you run it at least once a day, you waste up to 1,470 liters per month for one cycle. At a rate of one cycle per day, an old dishwasher costs you around AU$3.24 per month in water wastage.
Water conservation in the yard and garden
People also use a lot of water out in the yard and garden and often end up wasting a lot of it in the process. How can you do water conservation in the yard and garden?
When you’re planting a new lawn, or over-seeding an existing one, you can opt for drought-resistant grasses like couch lawns, Zoysia grass, and Buffalo grass. These are called drought-resistant grasses because they can survive droughts due to their minimal water requirement and they are resistant to local plant diseases.
You can also consider xeriscaping over your new (or existing) lawn for a low-maintenance and drought-resistant yard.
10 – Place a layer of mulch around trees and plants
Mulch can help lower the evaporation rate of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding five to 10 centimeters of organic material like compost or bark mulch (dead tree barks) can help retain water moisture, which will then give you the benefit of using less water when it comes to watering the plants.
In order to minimize water runoff, you can press the mulch down and around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression.
11 – Water your lawn when needed
Do you know the best way to see if your lawn needs watering? Just step on the grass. If it springs back up, then it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, then it’s time to do some watering. Allowing the grass to grow taller than seven centimeters will also improve water retention in the soil.
Some lawns will only need about two centimeters of water each week and during the dry season, lack of water can often turn your green lawn into a shade of brown. This, however, doesn’t mean that your grass is dead. Morning dew and rainfall that often comes after the dry season can rejuvenate your lawn.
12 – Deep-soak your lawn
When you’re watering your lawn, it’s best to do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where the water can do a lot of good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and often encourages shallow root systems.
How do you know you’ve watered your lawn enough? Put an empty can on your lawn and spray your water around when you’re watering over the lawn. Once the can is full, you’ve watered the right amount.
13 – Water during the early parts of the day
The goal of water conservation is to maximise water retention while keeping water usage at a bare minimum. Early morning is the best part of the day to water your lawn because it helps prevent the growth of fungus and can help reduce water loss due to evaporation. It’s also the best defense against slugs and garden pests.
14 – Dig a makeshift irrigation or water path
When you’re landscaping around your shrubberies and plants, try to create a small irrigation system or water path by digging a little deeper so water flows through them. This will allow you to maximise water retention while you’re watering your plants and it will also prevent water from running off. Experts claim that more than 50 percent of landscape water goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by overwatering.
15 – Check for leaks in your hoses and water sprinklers
Yes, your water sprinklers and hoses are as prone to leaks as your toilet and taps. They can also run off more water than they should every time there’s a leak, so be sure to check for signs of leaks around these gardening implements.
Similar to a leaking tap, leaking water hoses and sprinklers can still cost you money. At a rate of 1 drop per second from a leaky water hose or sprinkler, it would still amount to 10,000 liters of water every year or 833 liters a month. If you compound this to your already existing leaking tap, you’ll also end up paying AU$23.30 of water every year or AU$1.94 per month for a leaking hose or sprinkler.
While it’s good to hope that the water supply will be enough for everyone during summer, water conservation is still your best bet, as it can help you maximise your water usage while keeping your water consumption at a bare minimum. At best, you can also enjoy reduced water bills for the next few months or so with these tips.