How to Save Water at Home For Adults and Children
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How to Save Water at Home For Adults & Children

A parent helping their child, who is standing on a chair by the sink, wash their hands.

A Green-Living Guide to Water Conservation at Home

In 2011, the average Canadian household consumed 251 litres of water per person. While this represents a significant decrease in consumption from previous years, water is still a scarce resource that needs to be conserved. Statistics on domestic water use in Canada show that:

  • 10% of water is used for drinking and preparing meals;
  • 25% is used for everyday cleaning, including doing laundry;
  • 30% is used to flush the toilet;
  • 35% is used to bathe.
When an in-home water system is impacted with an over-abundance of minerals (hard water), it may increase the amount of water consumption and cause premature damage to water pipes, appliances, showers, and more. In fact, hard water is an issue that affects over 114 million U.S. and Canadian households.

Installing a water softener in your home is one way to reduce the amount of hard water running through your pipes and prevent any further damage that may be caused by mineral build-up. Softening your water can also reduce the amount of energy that your water heater takes by 24%.

Let’s take a look at other ways you and your family can practice water conservation in your home and the benefits that come with doing so.

What Is Water Conservation?

Water conservation is a set of strategies intended to help manage and protect how water is developed and prevent the amount of pollution spread into these sources. There are two water source types:

  • Surface Water: Surface water is water collected from a river, stream, lake, reservoir, or ocean. This water source is continuously being replenished by an intricate process involving precipitation and evaporation.
  • Groundwater: Groundwater is water that is harvested below the Earth’s surface by drilling into wells. This is the more popular water source of the two.
Conserving water in small increments — such as turning off the water while brushing your teeth or limiting your shower times — are two simple, yet effective ways to help reduce water consumption.


The Importance of Water Conservation

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act Registry is set in place to help protect water extraction sites and inform the public of the various contaminants, emissions, and waste associated with water extraction.

Hopefully, the above regulations help to stress the importance of water conservation by educating the public on current, proposed, and repealed regulations, and pollution prevention. However, access to this information alone may not be enough to get the public to understand why they should care to limit their water consumption.

Benefits of water conservation include:

  • The prevention of conflicts between consumers who share a common water source;
  • Contribution to the protection of environmental flows and overall health of aquatic ecosystems;
  • Availability of water resources for further growth and development;
  • The ability to avoid or defer the need to expand the capacity of water and wastewater infrastructure;
  • And many more.
Even though Canada has 20% of Earth’s freshwater resources, “only around 7% is considered renewable, and most of that drains north toward Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean — away from the 85% of Canadians that live along the southern border.”

The lack of access to this abundant water source by a majority of the Canadian population makes water conservation is that much more important.

Why Conserve Water at Home?

Statistics show that, on average, a bath requires 37 gallons of water, that 5 gallons of water are consumed if you leave the faucet on while brushing your teeth, and hand-washing dishes can use up to 20 gallons of water. Being more mindful of these statistics and the amount of water your household consumes comes with many benefits and few downfalls. For example, conserving water at home:

  • Lowers utility bills;
  • Protects appliances (such as your septic tank, water heater, sinks, bathtubs, and toilets);
  • Reduces your carbon footprint;
  • Removes microorganisms and contaminants such as chlorine, giardia, nitrate, and lead from drinking water;
  • Protects your community’s sewer systems.

General Tips for Reducing Household Water Waste

Reducing household water waste doesn’t have to be a herculean task. Little efforts go a long way. For example, to reduce the amount of water you and others in your home consume, you should:

  • Designate a water bottle or drinking glass for the day;
  • Perform regular maintenance on the water heater, furnace, toilets, washing machine, dishwasher, and refrigerator — checking for leaks and other immediate repairs;
  • Recycle water where you can (i.e. use basins and buckets to collect reusable water);
  • Regularly check the water meter;
  • Take shorter showers and/or baths;
  • Turn off the water for shorter tasks like shaving, washing vegetables, or brushing your teeth;
  • Use energy-efficient appliances to reduce water usage;
  • Insulate your water pipes;
  • Water your lawn as-needed and early in the day (preferably before it gets too hot).

Getting Kids Involved

Getting children involved in water conservation educates them on the importance of sustainable living and reducing their carbon footprint as a whole. It provides them with values that they can implement throughout their lives and pass on for generations to come. To get children involved in the conservation process, parents and guardians can:

  • Buy them a reusable water bottle;
  • Encourage them to tightly turn off faucets and only flush the toilet for solid waste;
  • Have them reuse their towels to cut back on laundry;
  • Lead by example;
  • Make learning into a game;
  • Show them how their actions are making a positive difference;
  • Show them other children implementing conservation practices;
  • Rather than playing in the hose or sprinkler take them to a lake, beach, or other natural body of water.

Cutting Back on Indoor Water Consumption

One study on residential indoor water use illustrates when and how Canadians are using the most water. The amount of water used by the average consumer breaks down as follows:

  • 35% for showering;
  • 30% for flushing;
  • 20% for laundry;
  • 10% in the kitchen and for drinking;
  • 5% for cleaning.
Listed below are various ways to cut back on indoor water consumption.


Water Conservation in the Bathroom

The bathroom tends to be the area in many Canadian homes where most water is consumed. Luckily there are many ways to conserve water in the bathroom. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Installing high-efficiency toilets;
  • Refraining from using the toilet as a wastebasket;
  • Taking shorter showers;
  • Turning off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving;
  • Using faucet aerators;
  • Utilizing low-flow showerheads.

Water Conservation in the Kitchen

The kitchen may not be the most popular area for water consumption. However, it is still important to be conscientious of when and how water is being used in this area of the home. To conserve water in the kitchen, you can:

  • Defrost food in the refrigerator instead of in the sink;
  • Limit the amount of water used for cooking food;
  • Make sure the dishwasher is fully loaded before starting it;
  • Refrain from throwing away fallen ice cubes and instead reusing them to water houseplants or to hydrate your pets;
  • Refrigerate your drinking water to cool it down in place of ice cubes;
  • Scrape, rather than rinse the dishes;
  • Soak stubborn pots.

Water Conservation in the Utility/Laundry Room

Oftentimes, households will have utility or laundry rooms that contain multiple appliances like a washer, dryer, sink, water softener, and more. Even though they may not be used as often, it is still an area everyone should be mindful of when discussing water conservation. One way to practice sustainable water consumption is by measuring your water hardness level and ensuring you are taking the proper precautions to ensure your water is soft enough for consumption. Other ways to reduce water consumption in these areas include:

  • Going to a laundromat and using their machines that are typically much larger;
  • Insulating and lowering the temperature of your hot water tank;
  • Reusing towels;
  • Running full loads of laundry;
  • Skipping the extra rinse cycle;
  • Upgrading to an energy-efficient washer, dryer, and water heater;
  • Using a water softener — being sure to only buy a high-efficiency water softener that only softens the water that needs it, clearly states its grain capacity, and is the right size;
  • Washing your clothes in cold water;
  • Wearing clothes more than once.

Cutting Back on Outdoor Water Consumption

Reducing outdoor water consumption is typically exclusively related to the yard and garden — which is why most of the ways to reduce consumption pertain to those areas. Just as with cutting back on indoor water consumption, reducing the amount of water that is used outdoors has multiple benefits. For instance, it can help you save on utility costs and reduce your carbon footprint.

It is important to note that outdoor water consumption is at a high during the hot summer months — as well as areas that tend to be drier than others. Listed below are ways to conserve water outdoors.


Water Conservation in the Yard

Different landscape layouts and gardens may require specific instructions to keep them alive and plentiful. However, if able to, following the below water conservation methods can help with the quality of your yard without sacrificing the benefits listed above:

  • Don’t use water to clean the driveways, steps, deck;
  • Install windbreaks;
  • Let the grass grow longer;
  • Mow high;
  • Use a pool cover to help reduce evaporation;
  • Utilize soaker hoses or drip irrigation;
  • Wash your car with water from a bucket.

Water Conservation in the Garden

To conserve water in the garden you should:

  • Avoid thirsty plants;
  • Choose plants native to that area;
  • Collect rainwater in a bucket to use for watering;
  • Compost;
  • Ensure you don’t overwater the plants;
  • Use a thick layer of mulch;
  • Water the soil, not the leaves.

Additional Resources on Water Conservation

Even with the above tips, some may find themselves wanting more resources discussing the benefits of/how to conserve water. Here is a non-exhaustive list of additional resources you can use if you find yourself wanting more information on the matter:

Water Conservation Resources for Kids

Getting kids involved in water conservation is ideal, however, it can be difficult to help them engage. Here is a list of resources to help educate children on the importance of saving water in and out of the home:

Before implementing the above tips for water conservation, it is important to first get a better understanding of your current water habits. From there, being more conscientious of how much water you and your household are consuming daily will become easier.