8 Low-Lift Things You Can Do to Save a Lot Water

Supporting our planet's delicate ecosystems doesn't have to be difficult. Here's how you can start reducing your water footprint.

Small Things You Can Do to Save More Water: Water Splash in Glass Box Against Blue Colored Background
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Do you know how much water gets wasted when you let the faucet run while shaving, brushing your teeth, or hand-washing the dishes? Hint: It's a lot (like, hundreds of gallons every week). Or how much water is required to raise and produce beef? Without meaning to, you might be inadvertently contributing to the water waste that's happening all over this country.

If your to-do list is anything like ours (i.e., already miles long), you probably don't have time to replace your entire lawn with low-water plant options. But there are some super-easy tweaks you can make to do your part in solving this national problem. The sooner you take note of what you might be guilty of (we all are, don't panic), the sooner you can alter your habits and start reducing your water footprint.

01 of 08

Turn Off the Faucet While Brushing Your Teeth


Think it doesn't matter if you leave the water running while you brush? Brushing your teeth may seem like a trivial task in this context, but if you leave the water running while you brush for two minutes twice a day, you let anywhere from 4 to 8 gallons of water run down the sink each day (depending on the age and model of your faucet). Some other easy habit changes? Turn off the water while you're washing your hands (for at least 20 seconds), shaving (only turn it on to rinse the razor), and washing dishes by hand.

02 of 08

Bring Your Water With You


It's not too late to stop buying plastic bottles of water from the store–a habit that contributes to parching the planet. Each 1-liter plastic bottle can require several liters of water to produce, when considering the supply and production chain. Refilling your own bottle can help save water and keep your drink cold all day.

03 of 08

Install a Low-Flow Showerhead

How to Save Water at Home: intall a low-flow showerhead
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Low-flow showerheads can cut water use in half—maybe more. According to the United States Geological Survey, older showers use up to five gallons of water per minute, while water-saving or low-flow shower heads use more like 2 gallons per minute.

If you take a five-minute shower using this type of showerhead, you would save enough water in a year to fill a 15-foot aboveground pool. Plus, you save on the water bill and on all the energy that would have gone into heating the excess shower water. Everyone wins. Can't install a low-flow head right now? Instead, work on trimming down your shower times.

04 of 08

Install Faucet Aerators

How to save water at home: install faucet aerators
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Faucets account for about 20 percent of indoor water use and typically flow at twice the rate they should. Installing aerators in kitchen and bathroom sinks greatly reduces the water flow rate—and they can cost as little as two or three dollars per sink.

Look for sink faucets, aerators, and other accessories with a WaterSense label, which means they're EPA-certified to use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute. This can reduce a sink's water flow by 30 percent or more from the standard flow of 2.2 gallons per minute. According to the EPA, "replacing old, inefficient faucets and aerators with WaterSense labeled models [or twisting on a WaterSense labeled aerator] can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year, equal to the amount of water needed to take 45 showers."

05 of 08

Choose Recycled-Paper Products

How to Save Water at Home: buy recycled paper products
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Products made from 100 percent recycled paper require much less water to manufacture than those made from virgin paper. If your family goes through four rolls of paper towels a week, choosing recycled reduces waste significantly. Better yet, use cloth dish towels to cut back on paper towel use in general. And choose recycled printer paper, or opt for digital mail, bills, and subscriptions when possible to save water.

06 of 08

Water Your Lawn in the Early Morning or Evening

how to save water at home: water lawn in the morning or evening when it's cool out
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If you irrigate in the middle of the day, evaporation prevents a lot of that water from reaching the plants' roots. Water the lawn in the early morning or evening (typically the coolest parts of the day), and avoid watering on super-windy days. These small changes could save gallons of water each week.

07 of 08

Eat One More Vegetarian Meal a Week

How to Save Water at Home: vegetarian meal once a week
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It takes a lot of water to grow the grain to feed the cow ultimately producing a hamburger. A 6-ounce steak has a water footprint of 674 gallons, while a salad's water impact is more like 21 gallons. A 2017 environmental impact analysis found that the omnivore's diet had the greatest water footprint (and carbon footprint) compared to vegetarian and vegan diets. Swapping just one meat-centric meal for a plant-centric one every day for a year can save nearly 200,000 gallons of water that year.

08 of 08

Use a Lower Dishwasher Setting

How to Save Water at Home
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The typical household will use 6 to 16 gallons of water with each run of the dishwasher. Contrary to popular belief, it's rarely necessary to use the normal setting on a dishwasher or to rinse plates beforehand. The light-wash setting often cleans just as well while reducing water use up to 55 percent.

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