A Few Simple Ways To Save Water

David Trammel's picture

Here are a few simple ways to save water (that I didn't think about how I waste it).

1) Put a timer in your bathroom for showers: I'm guilty of liking a long shower in the morning to wake up. One way I could save water is to put an egg timer in the bathroom, set it for 15 minutes and then finish up when it goes off.

2) Then there is, turning the water off when I soap up: We all do it, let the water run while we soap up. I could turn the water off, and then clean my body, and turn it back on to rinse.

3) Put a bucket under the tap, as I let the water warm up: Don't we all let the water run for a minute or so as it flushes the cold water in the pipes and gets warm. Capturing that and using it on other things, like plants or to shave, would cut back on waste.

4) So too in the kitchen: I rinse out three bowls I have down for the cats I have at the house almost every morning. Seems that the water gets a slight film to it. I bet that water is fine to use for the plants in my garden.

5) And for brushing your teeth: Though I have gotten in the habit of filling a coffee cup half way when I brush my teeth, and using it instead of leaving the water running.

I imagine if I was really hardcore I could put a large container on the output of my washer, but I'd need a pump and some smaller buckets since I believe the amount is above 5 gallons. Still doable though.

What other simple ways could you save water?

Alacrates's picture

Some good ideas here...

I can't really think of anything to add here, I think you have nailed the traditional water saving method: filling a bowl/cup with water for tasks like shaving, brushing teeth, etc. (This reminds me of an early chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses, where a bowl of water is brought onto a roof for a morning shave. Now that I think of is, there is a famous scene in Finnegan's Wake involving women washing clothes in a river.)

Also the idea of using grey-water to water a garden. Maybe one idea would be to add grey-water (which tends to have some small amount of nutrients in it, like the rinsed cat bowls perhaps!) to moisten a compost bin, ]I think the most useful rule of thumb for a compost pile is that is should neither dry out or be water-logged, and at its best having the moisture level of a wrung-out sponge.

I did read a book on grey-water, that said the easiest application is to have ones clothes washer to emit its water to a lawn or garden. Of course, all clothes washers have a pump built into them, and so long as they don't have to pump too far a distance, they can be made to dispel their used water into a collection barrel, which drains into a soaker hose to water a garden. The most usual place to have a washing machine was in the basement, and the author found that pumping the water up into a backyard tank was easily accomplished by all washing machine pumps. People who wanted to do this had to buy special types of detergent that were biodegradable and helpful to the plants in their garden. The author also recommended adding valves, so that the home owner could either divert the water to their lawn/garden, or into their drainage system.

I know that I've discussed this with you before, but another thought I've had is the water in a sump pit - it is usually pretty clear ground water, and there is a sump pump in the pit, this could easily be routed into a garden, or into a barrel in emergency situations. Anyways, just another water resource to consider for many households...

One other water saving device that I've seen on social media the last few months is a hand-washing basin mounted on top of the tank of a toilet, to wash one's hands in the water that fills the tank for the next flush. There are several commercial models available for this, but I liked this youtube video where someone makes a concrete version to set on top of their toilet tank...

I'm not sure if the water savings these hand-washing sinks provide is worth it (and the materials used to make these) but I think it is an interesting idea. I wonder myself if the tank builds up soap scum if people are washing their hands in this water (I think soap build up is a regular problem of home grey water systems, a factor to be overcome.) And also if this cold water hand washing is a good idea, maybe a hot water pipe addition is needed to temper the water.

In my own locality (Winnipeg, Manitoba) I sometimes wonder what is the benefit of saving water. As far as I know, our water is conducted from a lake (Shoal Lake) largely by gravity through an aqueduct to our city, and our treated wastewater is dispelled into our local rivers. Is it so bad for the environment for water to come through this system, from the lake to the river? I know their must be energy use in pumping the water to our homes, and chemicals used to treat it on the way into our system, and again in waste water. I has to be a very different scenario, however, to municipalities who draw their water from aquifers that are slow to replenish?

1) I have curly hair and it actually looks best when only washed once or twice a week, at the most. So I just put some water in the sink and use a washcloth to wash 5-6 days a week (though I'm sure I can do a better job of taking shorter showers when I do take them!). I find using cold water helps with waking up. I'm also quite lax with my kids - once a week bathing unless they're really dirty and/or stinky.

2) Similarly, we're teaching the kids that just because you wore an outfit doesn't automatically mean it's dirty.

3) As much as possible, we use water harvested from our rain barrels for watering the gardens.

4) If you must use a dehumidifier in any part of your house, that too is a good source for water for the gardens.

5) If your washing machine has a "suds saver" and a connected utility tub, you can reuse the water when washing clothes.