By: Joanna Birns

We know that leaks are by far the biggest water waste in a home (1 trillion gallons of water is wasted each year from household leaks)! But are YOU the biggest leak in your home? We don’t often think about the consequences of our bad water habits. We’ve all been there – it’s 6am and you’re waking up for work. Barely awake, you let the shower run until the room fills with steam as you brush your teeth, letting the water run the whole time. We know these things are habitual and minor (or so we tell ourselves) but how much water are we really wasting? And how can we be better? 

Little things – big impact 

Never-have-I-ever: water waste edition. Have you ever run the dishwasher when it was only half full? What about throwing in a quarter load of laundry? Do you leave the faucet on when you wash your face? Or the hose running while you clean your car? Have you ever thrown something away in the toilet rather than the wastebasket? Are you out of fingers? 

We know these are all “little” mistakes that we make constantly (us, included!). But small, daily habits add up to BIG water waste. Inversely, if you were able to change those water habits, you would be saving a TON of water. Let’s break some of these “water-waste” offenders down. 

    1. Running things half full. I know it’s tempting. You want clean dishes, or you need to wash your favorite shirt before the family gathering this weekend. But dishwashers and washing machines use a decent amount of water – especially if you don’t have a low-flow appliance. Running the dishwasher only when it’s full can eliminate one load of dishes per week and save the average family nearly 320 gallons of water! 
    2. Leaving the faucet on. We use our bathroom faucet more than we realize – it’s second nature to keep it running while you wash your hands, brush your teeth, wash your face, or shave. But turning the tap off while shaving can save at least 10 gallons of water per shave! According to the EPA, being mindful about turning your faucet off can save you nearly 5,700 gallons of water per year. 
    3. Keeping the hose on while you wash your car. This is a HUGE water waster. The standard garden hose uses about 10 gallons per minute. That means you use 100 gallons of water in JUST a 10 minute car wash! Instead of leaving the hose running, fill up a bucket then shut your hose off completely. Yes, it might take you a few extra steps to walk from the bucket to the car. But hey, a few steps closer to your Apple Watch goal, right?! 
    4. Irrigation crimes. The majority of our total water use comes from our irrigation, and up to 50% of the water we use to irrigate is wasted! Irrigation can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water annually. It’s great that you want to achieve your green lawn dreams, but it’s possible to do so while mitigating your water waste. Always check for sprinkler leaks (like broken sprinkler heads or ruptured irritation lines) as these can gush gallons of water a minute. Next, make sure you’re irrigating on a proper schedule. When you irrigate during the wrong conditions, a lot of water is wasted on evaporation. Try a smart irrigation controller to take the guesswork out of maximizing the perfect irrigation schedule. 
    5. Out with the old. Older appliances tend to use more water than new versions. Try swapping your shower head and water faucets for some water-efficient versions. If you’re feeling up to it, replacing your dishwasher, washing machine, and even toilets can save you thousands of gallons (and hundred on your water bill)! 

We know bad water habits are hard to break. But, like we always say, little things can leave a big impact. The fight against water waste takes all of us, all the time. Sometimes saving water isn’t the most convenient, but you can sleep easy knowing that you’re helping conserve our most valuable natural resource.