First, it’s helpful to understand the 3 categories of water and then consider how you can conserve, save, and waste less:

  1. Blue water is fresh water from lakes, rivers, and sub-surface water or groundwater.
  2. Green water is rain which falls directly on crops.
  3. Greywater is water generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing. It may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, and certain household cleaning products. While greywater may look “dirty,” it is usually safe to be recycled or reused for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands.

A note on bottled water: drinking bottled water itself doesn’t negatively affect our fresh water supplies. But, we should be aware that to manufacture the plastic bottle, 6.74 times the amount of the water in the bottle is used. Not to mention the other energy and resources used and the fact that 86 percent of water bottles end up in landfills!

When looking at your own water use, begin by observing how much you waste. Do you have a leak in a faucet or a shower head that drips? That leaky faucet or shower could be losing almost 14 percent of the total water you use.

Some no and low-cost tips for saving water inside your home:

Dishes

  • Run your dishwasher only when it’s full.
  • Don’t run water continuously when washing dishes by hand. The average dishwasher uses about 10 gallons of water per load. Washing the same number of dishes by hand takes about 16 gallons. Newer, efficient dishwashers use as little as 5 gallons per cycle, which means they also consume less energy to heat the water.

Faucets

  • Fix leaky faucets immediately. A leaky faucet, dripping once per second, wastes six gallons of water a day.
  • Install low-flow aerators on every faucet.
  • Don’t leave the water running when brushing your teeth or shaving. With the tap running at full force, shaving takes 20 gallons of water, teeth-brushing takes 10 and hand-washing takes two.

Bath & Laundry

  • Wash only full loads of laundry, or use the proper water level setting for your load size.
  • Take shorter showers and use less water in your bath. A full bathtub requires about 36 gallons of water. A five-minute shower using a water-conserving showerhead will use just 15 to 25 gallons. Showers and baths account for one-third of most families’ water use.

Toilets

  • Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. Each flush wastes water.
  • Check toilets for leaks.
  • Did you know 30 percent of your indoor water is used flushing the toilet? Your older toilet could be using way more than the new low flush toilet. If your older toilet flushes 3.5 gallons per flush, one person can use as much as 7,135 gallons per year just to flush a toilet. But, if you have a toilet that flushes 1.0 gallons per flush, one person can consume as little as 1,928 gallons per year. These “improved” toilets rely on an efficient bowl design and increased flushing velocity — instead of extra water — to remove wastes. If you’re thinking about making the switch, get recommendations about the best models from retailers and plumbers who have installed or used low-volume toilets.

If you’re willing to invest a little money to use less water, consider installing water-efficient toilets, faucets and showerheads.

For more information about water conservation, check out the Home Water Works website. It’s packed full of good tips and resources.