Earth may be known as the “water planet” but even though about 70 percent of its surface is covered by water, less than one percent is available for human use according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Water supplies are finite, and we can all help protect this critical and precious resource — while saving money, too.
In addition, depending on where you live, water use can comprise a major part of your monthly utility bill. We can save the environment and save money at the same time.
That’s why it’s so important to track down and stop leaks at home.
Across the United States, household leaks can waste more than one trillion gallons of water annually, so each year the EPA urges householders to hunt down the drips during Fix a Leak Week, from March 20 through 26 this year. But you can find and fix leaks inside and outside your home to save valuable water and money all year long.
Learn how to find and fix leaks — and save a little green — on the EPA’s WaterSense website.
Tips from WaterSense, an EPA partnership program
Take a look at your water bill, not just for last month but for previous months. Compare water use. If there’s a sudden surge in your water bill, you may have a leak.
Toilets are a common source of water leaks. Put a drop of food coloring into your toilet tank and check the bowl after about 10 minutes. If there’s color in the bowl and you haven’t flushed, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush right away after checking to avoid staining your toilet bowl.) It may be as simple as getting a new toilet tank kit from your home or hardware store. Most are easy enough for amateurs to install. The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a step-by- step video on how to fix a leaky toilet.
Listen. Sometimes, you can hear water running if the house is quiet. Find the source and if you can’t fix it yourself, call a plumber. It’s cheaper in the long run that having an ongoing leak.
That drip-drip- drip of a faucet is more than annoying. It’s expensive. Sometimes, it’s a simple fix with a new washer or other part from the home or hardware store. Most homeowners can do this themselves. Instructions should come with the part — or ask the in-store handyman for directions. The Do-It-Yourself Network has a handy reference on faucet repairs.
Check your in-ground irrigation system for leaks each spring. Some of these you cannot fix yourself, but hiring professional help is again cheaper than a long-running leak. Irrigation systems can leak many gallons of water a day.
The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a video on detecting household leaks that you may find helpful.
While you are doing home repairs, check out list of five easy home repairs that save money.
Here are some more tips for conserving water:
Be aware of running water when it isn’t needed. Don’t leave the sink faucet running while shaving or brushing your teeth, for example. Turn it off and on as needed.
Showers generally use less water than baths. If you don’t stand there till the hot water runs out, that is.
Use your dishwasher. It’s more water-efficient than washing dishes by hand. And if you do wash dishes by hand, fill the sink and rinse only when needed. Don’t’ leave the faucet running.
Sweep driveways, sidewalks and such instead of hosing them off. Wash your car using a bucket, not a running hose.
Consider a xeriscape plan for at least part of your landscape. Water-wise plantings can be lovely.
Look for WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures — they’re designed to save water.Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 1.5 trillion gallons of water and more than $32.6 billion in water and energy bills.