Saving Water At Home

In much of the developed world, we have an amazing thing. In most buildings, there are taps. With a simple twist of the wrist we can turn that tap, and out pours water. In most communities (sadly not all) the water that pours so effortlessly from that tap is SO CLEAN that we can drink it.

We pay about 1/5 of a cent for each litre of water, so it’s pretty easy to twist that tap and let the water run. Tap water is so handy, and so cheap, that I use that beautiful, clean, drinking water to flush my toilet! Most of you do too.

A lot of energy goes into cleaning that precious resource and bringing it to us. We should maybe treat it with a bit more respect!

Inside our homes, we use 1/4 to 1/3 of our water to flush our toilets. That seems a bit disrespectful to that nice clean drinking water. Another 1/5 to 1/3 is used for bathing and showering. About 1/5 for laundry. Actual cooking and drinking only accounts for about 10% of the water we use in our homes.

Hmmm, we aren’t actually USING all that water we are WASTING some of it. Here are some suggestions for how to waste less:

Let’s start with toilets. Are your toilets large old toilets that use 20 or more litres for each flush? Or new two button flush toilets that use 3 – 6 litres per flush, or something in between? Can you replace your toilet with a more efficient one? If not, try putting a 2 litre milk jug with some gravel in it (to make it heavy enough to sit still) into the tank. Be sure the toilet still flushes well.

Many toilets leak. Not onto the floor, just through the flapper and down the drain. If you can hear the leak, it’s probably wasting HUNDREDS of litres of water EACH DAY. To find out if yours leaks, put a few drops of food coloring in the water in the tank. Leave the toilet for 15 minutes. Then look in the bowl. If there is color in the bowl, then the toilet is leaking and it’s time to replace the flapper. And yes, that is something you can do yourself.

In the shower, you can turn down the tap a bit to reduce the flow rate. You can shorten up your shower – sing one less verse of that song. You can turn the water off, and turn it on only to rinse. And/or you can put in a 6 litre per minute showerhead. Standard showerheads now are 9 litres per minute. Old showerheads may be 16 or more litres per minute.

For laundry, when you replace your washing machine, choose the smallest one that meets your needs, and choose an ENERGY STAR qualified, front load machine. And in the meantime, try to wash only full loads. By the way, are those clothes actually dirty, or do you have a “wear it once, then wash it” habit.

What about tooth brushing and shaving? Leaving the tap running for one minute wastes 6 or more litres of water. Check it out yourself. Put the plug in the sink before you start and leave it in until you are done.

On the SES website, there is a very handy booklet that can help you find where you are wasting water at home. Check out Water Use in Your Home at → Resources → Publications → Water.Angie 220 photo

Angie manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church. You can contact her at

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)