Here’s how to cut home water use by as much as half

Updating old appliances, fixtures, changing wasteful habits go a long way

Updating home appliances and changing wasteful habits can help you cut your home water use in half.

SAN ANTONIO – Water restrictions across the country are forcing millions of people to cut back on everything from watering the lawn to washing the car. There are some other ways to conserve water, too, and cut water use by as much as half.

First, let’s start outside.

The Environmental Protection Agency said outdoor watering accounts for almost 30% of household water use.

You can save water by letting your lawn grow longer to reduce evaporation, so you water less frequently. And think about replacing some grass with mulch, ground cover or longer ornamental grasses that use far less water.

“Instead of rinsing your driveway or desk, sweep it or use an electric leaf blower,” Consumer Reports’ Dan Wroclawski said. “And wash your car with a bucket of water instead of a running hose.”

Nearly 20% of indoor residential water use flows from the shower. A standard showerhead releases two and a half gallons of water a minute.

Replacing it with a low-flow Watersense-approved head that uses 2 gallons per minute or less can save 2,700 gallons a year.

You can save even more by limiting showers to under five minutes, and turn off the water when shaving or brushing your teeth.

In the kitchen, soak pots and pans instead of scrubbing them under running water.

And keep a water-filtering pitcher in the refrigerator, to keep from running the faucet for cold drinks.

There are ways to save in the laundry room, too.

“If you have an ‘HE’ washer, use detergent for an HE machine,” Wroclawski said. “Regular detergents will create a lot of suds and will force an HE washer to use more water to get that soap out.”

Also, household leaks account for more than 10,000 gallons of wasted water a year, Consumer Reports said.

Consumer Reports said that to check for a toilet leak, place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, it’s leaking. And it’s probably time to replace the flapper or valve seal.

Making some changes can save water and keep money from going down the drain.

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About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.