According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, each American uses an average of 100 gallons of water at home every day — an amount that can be cut by up to 30 percent through the use of water-efficient fixtures and appliances. Using those fixtures can also save money, according to the EPA — about $170 a year for the typical household.
In a parched season, here are 13 steps that homeowners and tenants can take to conserve water at home:
In the bathroom:1. Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth, shave or wash your face.
2. Take shorter showers.
3. Choose toilets, shower heads and faucets with the WaterSense label, which use 20 percent to 30 percent less water than standard models. For example, while regular shower heads use about 2.5 gallons per minute, WaterSense shower heads use no more than 2 gallons. Over a year, that could save the average household 2,900 gallons per year, according to the EPA, which runs the WaterSense program in partnership with manufacturers, utilities, retailers and others.
4. Use a bucket to collect water as you're waiting for the shower to heat up. Then use that water to flush the toilet or water plants.
In the kitchen:5. Reuse cooking water. For example, when you boil pasta or steam vegetables, save the water and use it to water plants.
6. Run the dishwasher only when it's full.
In the yard:7. Choose plants that need less water, such as sedum, lavender, lamb's ears, American holly, white pine and red maple. Many ornamental grasses are also drought-tolerant.
8. Collect water in rain barrels for watering the lawn and plants.
Walter Johnson of Rochelle Park has about half a dozen rain barrels; it's one of several steps he takes to conserve water, along with using a low-flow toilet and low-flow faucets. He says his conservationist habits come from his parents, who grew up in the Depression and lived a "waste not" lifestyle. "Basically, I believe in the wise use of resources like water," said Johnson, 50, a Verizon employee who learned about rain barrels at a Hackensack Riverkeeper workshop.
9. The grass is always greener when it's a little bit longer. Avoid mowing it too short; when the grass is less than 2 inches tall, it's more likely to get burned out, according to research by retired Rutgers scientists Theodore Shelton and Bruce Hamilton.
10. Use mulch around plants to help keep moisture in the soil.
11. Cut back on watering the lawn. And don't water it in midday, when the sun's heat causes much of the water to evaporate.
Around the house:12. Repair leaking faucets and pipes, which can waste thousands of gallons a year. In fact, according to Home Depot's Jarvis, fixing a leaky faucet — using parts costing less than $10 — can cut a household's water use by 10 percent.
13. Hold off on washing clothes till you have a full load.
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