Inside the home, we use the most water in our bathrooms. That makes sense, since almost every activity in the bathroom requires water. To save water in the bathroom replace out-dated fixtures that waste water and modifying habits that contriubte to unnecessary water use.
- Toilets that predate the 1994 federal water usage standard of 1.6 gallons use from 3.5 to 6 gallons per flush. The dilemma is, toilets can last up to 50 years! Why replace a perfectly good, functioning toilet? If you’re willing to modify an old toilet so it will consume less water, by all means keep it. You can buy a number of gadgets from your home improvement store to correct the overuse of water.
- Don’t hang on to an old toilet because you think conserving toilets aren’t effective. Toilet technology has improved since those first low-flow models. Installing a standard 1.6 gallon per flush toilet, or better yet, a high efficiency toilet (HET) that uses 1.3 gallons per flush can save a household of four 16,000 gallons of water a year.
- A dual flush conserving toilet allows you to select a full 1.6-gallon flush for solids or a half-flush (0.8 gallons) for liquids.
- Don’t flush garbage down the toilet. This isn’t just a waste of water: Flushing unnecessary solids requires more maintenance and more energy for proper treatment at the sewage plant.
- Fix leaks immediately once you detect them. In most cases, you will simply want to replace the toilet flapper or the filling mechanism. These are available at hardware stores and home centers for cheap. If replacing either of these does not correct your leak, consult a plumber. A leak that goes unfixed can waste 200 gallons a day according to the EPA.
- New shower heads use only 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Either install a new conserving shower head or install a water saving device which will cut water output by 50 percent while still delivering a satisfactory spray. These devices cost little, are easy to install and save a lot of water and money.
- Take more showers than baths. You use up to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 12.5 gallons during a 5-minute shower with a 2.5 gpm showerhead.
- Install a shut off valve on your showerhead and turn the water off here when you are lathering up. The advantage of a valve is that it keeps the water (hot and cold) mixed while shut off.
- If you shower every day, or close to it, it may be more than necessary. Our frequency of bathing in the U.S. is based more on cultural standards and social pressures than hygiene. Everone’s body reacts differently, so you and those close to you will be the judge of how often you need to bathe, but if you think you might be over bathing out of habit, you are losing more than precious water: bathing too frequently can dry out skin and kill beneficial bacteria on the skin’s surface.
- Use the exhaust fan during and after a shower to clear out moisture that can lead to mold and mildew growth. Close the shower curtain to eliminate folds where water can’t evaporate easily and let that fan run for a full ten minutes after you exit the shower.
At the Sink
- Adding an aerator to your faucet, if you don’t already have one, will restrict flow and save water ever time the faucet is turned on. Faucet aerators are rated for different flows so get the minimal flow available (1.5 gpm). They cost little and install easily.
- Leaving the water running while brushing your teeth, shaving and washing your face and hands isn’t necessary. For all these activities, the water should be running only when needed. Since even a low flow faucet will fill a one gallon basin in under a minute, the EPA estimates that a person can save more than 500 gallons of water per month by closing the tap while brushing teeth or shaving.
- Don’t ignore a dripping faucet or plumbing. A leak at the rate of one drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons per year.
- Conventional cleaning products designed for use in the bathroom can be especially dangerous to us and the environment because many of them rely on harsh chemicals to attack mildew, hard water deposits, soap scum and toilet bowl stains on contact. Instead, clean, disinfect and deordorize your entire bathroom with two simple ingredients: white vinegar and borax. Vinegar is a disinfectant, stain remover, soap scum dissovler, mildew eliminator, lime descaler, and deodorizer. (Vinegar’s smell dissappears as it evaporates.) Borax is a natural mineral that disinfects, deodorizes and inhibits mold growth.
- Fill a trigger-spay bottle with distilled white vinegar and fill a shaker can with borax. Use each alone or together, as follows, to clean the bathroom.
- Hardwater deposits: Using a spray bottle, spray straight vinegar onto areas affected by hardwater. Let sit 5 minutes and remoisten. Wait five more minutes, sprinkle with borax and scrub. Rinse well.
- Toilet bowl: Reuce the water level in the toilet bowl with a plunger. Sprinkle borax all around the toilet bowl ring and slightly moisten with a spritz of vinegar. Let sit for one hour and scrub.
- Soap scum: Spray with vinegar and wash away with hot water.
- General Cleaning: Use vinegar and warm water to clean every surface in the bathroom.