Updated: Feb 17
When we first published this article, many areas of New Hampshire, including Merrimack county, were in a state of moderate to severe drought. With no rain in sight and officials slow to order mandatory water restrictions, we wanted to give our readers a toolbox to save water at home. But conserving water isn't just for droughts. Water conservation at home is an important part of living an eco-friendly life. Here is how you can conserve water at home right now (all quotes from this article):
TURN OFF THE FAUCET. “Household faucets run at about 2 gallons of water a minute, according to the EPA”. Turn it off when you’re washing your hands, brushing your teeth, shaving, and washing your face.
FIX LEAKS. This is a great incentive to fix those pesky leaks. “A slow drip from a leaking faucet can waste as much as 20 gallons of water a day. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons a day”.
WASH DISHES WISELY: “Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them before loading, and you’ll save up to 10 gallons a load”. We use a rough kitchen cloth to wipe our dishes, a tactic I learned from Little House on the Prairie, of all places. You can also update your dishwasher and washing machine because newer models use a lot less water.
To learn more about this cloth, check out our Products We Use section.
LET IT MELLOW: Have a talk with your family about water use and adopt the “Let it mellow” rule. “Older toilets use as much as 6 gallons per flush”, but even newer toilets don’t need to be flushed every time. You can also upgrade to a low-flush toilet or put something in the tank to displace some of the water (I read a plastic bottle filled with pebbles and sand is better than a brick, FYI).
NAVY SHOWERS: The average family of four uses “40 gallons a day” showering! Chose to skip the shower if you don’t really need one or opt for a Navy Shower instead. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Navy shower involves rinsing your body and hair, then turning off the water while you soap up, shave, and shampoo, then rinsing off again.
WATERING OUTSIDE: It’s time to abandon the lawn and focus on the garden instead. Water your plants by hand with a watering can or hose because hand watering uses “33 percent less water” according to the EPA. Also, time your watering for early morning or evening to avoid evaporation and focus on the plants you and your animal friends eat, like your vegetable and flower garden.
CAPTURE THE RAIN: It hasn’t rained for awhile, but it will again. Now is a great time to invest some time and energy into creating a rain capture system for your house, shed, or barn. A barrel attached to your gutters works great, but even placing a few large tubs on your driveway helps.
CAPTURE YOUR “GRAY” WATER: Gray water is all the leftover water from your shower, bath, sink, and washing machine. There are ways to re-rig your plumbing to do this, but since I’m not a plumber, let me suggest this non-invasive idea instead. When you are waiting for your water to warm up in the bath, shower, or sink, or when you ware washing vegetables or rinsing dishes, just pop a bucket or plastic bin under the faucet and use that water in your garden or to flush your toilet. You can also use the water from your de-humidifier, if you have one.
HOLD OFF ON WASHING: Now is NOT the time to wash your car, boat, driveway, or anything else big (or small for that matter) that isn’t essential. So embrace the dust and wait until our water tables go back up. And when they do, use a bucket instead of a hose when washing big items.
KIDS AND WATER: Kids love water and it’s hot, so I know everyone is thinking sprinklers and pools, but now is not the time for those fun activities either. Try to make use of the wonderful ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams instead. And, unless they are actually dirty, your kids do not need a nightly or even bi-nightly bath. Just check them for ticks, wipe them down with a wash cloth, and send them to bed.
I hope this helps. It turns out, if you are thinking about water usage, you tend to use less, so let everyone in your family and neighborhood know that we are in a drought (in case they haven’t noticed all the signs) and we can conserve water together. We don’t want to end up like California with all those wild fires. Just saying.