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Use this checklist for your home water conservation

April 25, 2009
By Linda E. Wegner, For The Leader-Herald

Saving water is essential. Humans depend on water for survival more than anything else. Only one percent of all the water on Earth can be used for drinking.

That's why conserving water is important. Simple water-saving practices can become a part of our everyday lives without greatly altering the way we live.

Remember that saving a little water now may save many lives in the future.


Install low flow showerheads. They use 2.1 gallons per minute while conventional showerheads use 5 to 15 gallons per minute.

Limit the amount of shower water by the way you use hot and cold water faucets.

Insulate hot water pipes to reduce the amount of water that must be run to get hot water to the faucet.

If possible, locate the hot water heater as close as possible to bathroom, kitchen and laundry areas. The closer the heater is to the faucet, the less water has to be run. For this reason, it's sometimes better to have two small water heaters located in strategic places.

Check faucets for drips. Make repairs promptly. These problems get worse - never better.

Teach children to turn water faucets off tightly after use.

See if your toilet is continuing to flow after flushing. Put a small amount of food coloring into the tank. If the color trickles into the bowl, there is a leak and repairs are needed.

Place a quart plastic (not glass) bottle filled with water in your flush tank to save one quart of water per flush.

You can adjust the float level of the toilet to reduce the amount of water necessary to flush the toilet. Do this carefully to avoid damaging the system.

When you buy a new toilet, look for an "ultra low flush" model that uses 1.6 gallons or less per flush.

Avoid using the toilet as a trash basket for facial tissues, etc. Each flush uses 5 to 7 gallons of water.

Food preparation

To get warm water, turn hot water on first; then add cold water as needed. You get warm water quicker this way and save water.

Reduce the use of garbage disposals, which use as much as two gallons of water per minute, by peeling vegetables, eggs and other foods on newspapers. Wrap the food waste and dispose of it with the trash or put it in a garden compost pile.

Use only the amount of water necessary to cook foods such as frozen vegetables andstews. You'll preserve nutritional value as well as save water.

Time foods that must boil so that too much evaporation does not take place.

Select the proper size pans for cooking. Pans that are too large require more cooking water.

Use a pressure cooker to save time and water.

Personal care

Urge family members to take showers instead of tub baths. Baths take as much as 30 to 50 gallons of water.

Cut down on the number of showers taken.

Limit shower time to 2 minutes or less. Turn off shower while you apply soap to body or lather hair.

To save water, relax with massage, stretching or exercises instead of taking showers.

Turn off water while you shave, brush teeth, etc.


Wash only full loads of laundry.

Buying a new washing machine? An automatic clothes washer uses 32 to 45 gallons of water per load. Shop carefully and look for these features: models that use less water; capacity to fill needs; don't buy a larger machine than you need; "floatfill" models that provide a more accurate control of the amount of water used than "time" fill models; water level controls so you can adjust the amount of water you use, depending on the load; "suds-saver" models that save wash water for later loads.

Save handwashing jobs and do them all together. If possible, use the same sudsy water for several items. Make one rinse do the job of two.

Check garments to make sure they need washing. Don't wash clothes more often than necessary. Encourage children to change into play clothes after school so school and play clothes can be worn several times.

Avoid buying new clothes that require separate washing.


Wash only full loads of dishes in dishwasher. A dishwasher uses about 16 gallons of water per load.

Avoid unnecessary rinsing of dishes you're putting in the dishwasher. Scrape if necessary.

If washing dishes by hand, use one pan of soapy water for washing and a second pan of hot water for rinsing. Wash least dirty dishes first.

Outside the home

Car washing can use a lot of water. Wash the car less often.

Wet car with hose, then use a bucket of sudsy water to remove soil from the car.

Hose down as a final rinse.

Take advantage of any soft summer rain to wash your car. Get out there with soap and a sponge.

If water supply permits use of outdoor pools, cover the pool when you are on vacation to prevent evaporation.

Clean the pool filter often. Then you won't have to replace the water as often.

If water is rationed or otherwise restricted, lawns and annuals should receive the lowest priority for outside watering. Trees and shrubs are more expensive to replace and should receive any available water.

"Mulch" to retain moisture in the soil. Spread wood chips, bark mulch, clippings or plastic around plants. Mulching also controls weeds that compete with garden plants for water.

If you are using a garden hose or sprinkler, water the garden less frequently, but water it thoroughly. Don't let water run down the driveway or street.

Consider a device that senses moisture in the ground to limit unnecessary watering of the lawn.



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