We are fortunate to be on a Great Lake and have an abundant supply of fresh water. But there are still good reasons to conserve.
This summer’s stingy rainfall — Cleveland was 2.16 inches below average for the year until last week — brings attention to the amazing resource of fresh water that we rely on.
Saving water can save you money on your water and sewer bills. And, since the processing and pumping of water takes lots of energy, reducing water use saves energy and reduces carbon emissions.
We assembled this list of water conservation measures to try at home.
Good sense: The majority of water use happens indoors.
- The simple act of turning off the tap when brushing teeth can save 3,000 gallons per year.
- Faucets that carry the EPA WaterSense label use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute which can reduce a sink's water flow by 30 percent.
- Green your renovation and find a (newer model) faucet in a salvage shop such as Cleveland's Habitat Restore.
- Replace the aerator — the little screen on the end of the faucet — at the hardware store.
No half measures: The kitchen faucet and dishwater combine for 8-13% of water use. What is more efficient for cleaning dishes? Newer dishwashers, fully loaded, are more (often) water efficient than washing by hand. Here are tips for when and how to efficiently wash dishes by hand.
Out in the wash: The average American family washes 400 loads of laundry each year; washing machines account for a whopping 15 - 30% of water consumption. Always run full loads to save on water. When it’s time to purchase a washer, look for an EPA WaterSense (and EnergyStar) model, which uses 50% less water than an older washer.
Shower time: Make water conservation fun. Start a friendly, family competition: who can take the shortest shower? Set a timer for five minutes which uses about 10 to 25 gallons of water. When it’s time to replace, an average family can save 2,900 gallons per year by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads.
Save every flush: Dual-flush toilets (look for 1.6 gpf or less) are built with water-saving technology.
Fix it first: If you suspect that a toilet is leaking, here’s a simple test. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If it shows up in the toilet bowl (without flushing), you have a leak. Fixing it can save hundreds of gallons of water.
Water savings by the barrel full: Up to 40% of summer water use is for irrigation, so installing a rain barrel is an important way to conserve water. The Cuyahoga County Soil and Water Conservation District has rain barrel workshops and sales. The City of Cleveland offers 400 free rain barrels each summer to its residents.
Drought tolerant landscapes: Native plants have adapted specifically to our area’s climate and soils. By planting natives, instead of herbaceous perennials, as a border, a yard can provide habitat that attracts birds and pollinators (butterflies, bees). Natives usually require less maintenance and irrigation.
Garden gold: Composting can preserve water that would be used to flush food scraps through an in-sink disposal. Put food scraps into a (covered) bin and let nature turn them into fertilizer for the garden.
Cool running: Opening the tap to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle.