8 Simple Ways to Conserve Water

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Gov. Jerry Brown has taken the unprecedented step of ordering mandatory water reductions for the first time in California’s history.

There are hundreds of ways that homes and offices can save water, like by installing low flow toilets and shower heads, building a rainwater collecting system or altering your landscaping to be drought tolerant.

Yet some of the simplest and most effective ways to save water are behavioral. Here are eight ways you can start saving water right now -- no trips to the hardware store required.

Don't waste dropped ice. Put it on plants

No drop of water is too small to be saved. 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. (Photo by Olivia Hubert-Allen/KQED)


Keep drinking water in the fridge
You don't need a fancy water pitcher to make storing water in the fridge worthwhile. Keeping drinking water there will prevent you from running the tap while you wait for cold water to reach the faucet. And did you know your body absorbs cold liquids faster than room temperature liquids during exercise? So you're not only doing the environment a favor, but helping your body rehydrate too. (Photo by Liz West/Flickr)

Avoid rinsing dishes before using the dishwasher.
Skip the rinsing, already! Scrape food scraps into a compost bin instead of rinsing them down the drain. Garbage disposals require a lot of water to work properly (and composting is pretty great.) Modern dishwashers have gotten good at cleaning stuck-on food without using as much water as hand-washing. By rinsing beforehand, you're not only wasting water, but also time. (Photo by Peapod Labs/Flickr)

Use pasta water on plants
Collecting used water for watering plants is an easy way to save a few gallons of water each week. Try rinsing vegetables in a pot of water instead of under the tap. And when you replace your pet's water bowl, throw the old water on a plant instead of down the drain. One super saver recommends keeping a gallon jug and a funnel under your sink for collecting lightly used water. (Photo by Julia Frost/Flickr)

Use a broom to clean patios
Make your cleaning routine a bit more dry. Try sweeping or vacuuming hard floors instead of mopping. (Photo by Pulpolux/Flickr)

Only do full loads of laundry

Always wait until a load is full before doing laundry. If you must do a smaller load, be sure to adjust the water settings on your washer. By the same token, be sure your dishwasher is completely full before running it. (Photo by Jackson Boyle/Flickr)

Serve food from pots.

This one might be hard for you Martha Stewart-types out there, but 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. (Photo by Wendy Goodfriend/KQED)


Take shorter showers

We can all be more mindful about how long we take in the shower. Setting a kitchen timer or stopwatch is an easy way to keep track. Or try making it a competition with others in your household to see who can wash the quickest. Showers that last less than 5 minutes use less water than one bath, though that varies by shower head.  (Photo by by Dominick Dome/Flickr)


Know of other behavioral solutions that help save water? Leave them in the comments below.

Note: An earlier version of this post was published in January of 2014.