It’s easy to push aside our concerns about water conservation when we have such ready access to water but struggle to fulfill our basic need for affordable housing in Vancouver. But it doesn’t require a lot of effort or even a cent of cash to help save hundreds of gallons of our taken-for-granted resource.
Smallworks is constantly thinking of new features to offer to make our affordable housing more sustainable. This World Water Day (coming up March 22), we are taking the opportunity to share our ten favourite free ways to save water in your household. Pick one small change and you can make a big difference.
1. Don’t let the tap run while you brush your teeth.
Fill one cup with water and use that one cup for the whole brushing and rinsing cycle. You’ll save gallons of water over the course of a year.
2. Take more efficient baths and showers.
If you really want to save water, use a timer to get used to taking showers in four minutes or less – you’ll save water and energy used to heat the water. If your kids enjoy taking baths, have them take baths together for as long as they feel comfortable doing so – you can introduce them to short showers when they grow too old for this.
Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by plugging the drain before turning on the tap, and filling the tub only one third full. You can warm the initial burst of cold water by adding hot water later.
3. Make your toilet flushing more efficient.
If you have an older toilet model, you can turn it into an eco toilet simply by putting a brick in the cistern. This will decrease the amount of water stored in the cistern and the amount used for each flush. If you don’t have a brick, then you can use a plastic one litre/pint milk bottle filled with water instead.
Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily.
4. Reuse water when you can.
Instead of pouring extra water down the drain, use it to water a plant or the garden, or to clean the house with.
5. Fully load your dishwasher or clothing washer each time you use it.
If you use appliances to wash your dishes and clothes, make sure they are fully loaded to get the most out of each washing cycle, or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using.
6. Use a basin when hand-washing items.
When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Use a slow-moving stream from the faucet to quickly rinse them.
7. Store drinking water in the fridge.
You’ll have cool water to drink anytime you want, without having to let the tap run every time you want a cold drink.
8. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods.
Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.
9. Turn down your water flow when adjusting water temperatures.
If the water is too hot or cold, turn the tap down rather than increasing water flow to balance the temperatures.
10. Be smart about watering your lawn.
As a general rule, lawns only need watering every five to seven days in the summer and every ten to 14 days in the winter. A hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for as long as two weeks. Position your sprinklers so that your water lands on the lawn and shrubs rather than paved areas like your sidewalk, street, or driveway. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours, so use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.
If you read our last article on greening your home with a rain barrel and have bought and set one up in your home, you will be interested to know that we have developed a system that uses the stored rain water to actually run your sprinkler system. (You can contact us about installing this system for your home.)
Try to do one thing each day that will cut down your use of water. Don’t worry if the savings are minimal: Every drop counts. Even if you can’t afford to invest in water saving devices for your home or laneway house just yet, changing your behavior is a great first step.