Take Shorter Showers, Skip Baths Entirely
If you're someone who likes to take long hot showers, you might want to get your phone's timer involved to remind you to keep your shower to five minutes or less.
And sorry, bath fans: A full bathtub can require up to 70 gallons of water, so showers that last less than five minutes will use much less water than one bath (though that can vary by showerhead.)
Buy Drought-Tolerant Plants for Your Home
Choosing your outdoor plants carefully for the amount of water they need (or rather, don't need) is an excellent way to maintain a colorful outdoor space without requiring constant watering.
Sunset Magazine has a list of drought-tolerant plants to get you started, from cacti to blooming evergreens.
Take Your Car to the Automatic Car Wash Instead of Washing at Home
Many automatic car washes recycle their water, so taking your vehicle to one of these businesses — rather than washing your car at home in the street or on your driveway — is a more environmentally friendly option for keeping your car clean. (Unfortunately, it costs more money though.)
Dropped Ice on the Floor? Give It to Your Plants
No drop of water is too small to be saved. So if you fumble the ice tray, instead of tossing the ice cubes you dropped into the sink, consider placing them in the soil of a plant instead.
FYI, you can also use ice to water plants on a regular basis. It allows plants to absorb the water slowly and generally uses less water than traditional watering.
Reuse Water for Your Plants Wherever You Can
Water for your plants can add up, so collecting used water for watering plants — instead of letting it run straight down the drain — is an easy way to save a few gallons of water each week. Opportunities to reuse water include:
- Cooled-down water from cooking pasta ...
- ... or from steaming or boiling vegetables
- Your pet's water bowl when you're refreshing it
If you're running the faucet to get the water hot, collect the water as it runs and save it for reuse. You might consider keeping a gallon jug and a funnel under your sink for conserving used water.
Serve Meals Straight From the Pot, Not From a Dish
By cutting down on the number of dishes you use during cooking, you can make a big impact on how often the dishwasher is needed. (Or how much water you'll be using to do the dishes by hand.)
Fix Leaks Around the House
Water lost to leaks from faucets and showerheads can add up. According to Arizona's Water: Use It Wisely, one drip every second adds up to five gallons of water lost every day. In this spirit, make sure you turn taps tightly when you're done running water to prevent drips.
If you're renting and you're unable to fix a leak yourself, inform your landlord or property manager of the need to fix it straightaway.
Switch From a Hose to a Broom for Cleaning Your Patio
... and try sweeping or vacuuming hard floors instead of mopping with water.
A version of this post was originally published in 2015.