Saving water around your home is a great way to help protect the environment — while also helping you save time and money, all at once.
The hot summer months are a great opportunity to check in on your household water usage, and look for ways to make small changes or updates for the better. Even little tweaks or changes in your daily habits can help you save hundreds of gallons of water every month — and that can mean good news for your next utility bill!
Looking for some smart and simple ways to save water, even in the middle of a Chicagoland summer? Let’s dive in! Here are five steps you can take to help conserve water, lower your utility bills, and still beat the summer heat:
1.) Collect and Reuse Water
Think of all the water you use everyday that just goes swirling down the drain. One effective way to get smart about water usage is to collect this water that you’d otherwise let go, and find ways to reuse it around the house.
For example? Many of us run our showers or faucets while we wait for the stream of water to heat up. Catch this running water in a bucket, and you can easily use it to water plants outside, or put it toward your cleaning “to-do” list throughout your home. Similarly, water used to steam veggies or boil pasta can easily be repurposed for the garden. And think of all the rainwater that rushes through your gutters and pours out of your downspout. A rain barrel can be an effective way to catch this water, store it, and put it to good use — instead of having to turn on the spigot for every outdoor chore.
2.) Check for Plumbing Leaks and Drips
Is your plumbing working as efficiently as it could be? Getting a handle on your home’s systems could be a great way to cut down on wasted water. According to reporting from Popular Mechanics, a leaking faucet that drips at the rate of one drop per second can waste about 2700 gallons of water over the course of a year. Similarly, a continuously running toilet has the potential to waste hundreds of gallons of water each day.
Fortunately, taking control over your home’s plumbing systems doesn’t have to be a major undertaking.
First thing’s first, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of trouble. Watch for leaking faucets and listen for running water, to see if your plumbing system may have been wasting water without you noticing. For your toilets, you can perform a quick test by dropping a few drops of food coloring in the tank, to see if it leaks into the bowl over time. If it does, your toilet’s flapper or seal may need to be replaced.
What you observe around your home will dictate the plan of action you should take. If the issue is simply leaking faucets, there are plenty of DIY repair kits out there that can help you fix the drip, without spending too much money. Similarly, replacing a toilet’s flapper is typically a fairly straightforward DIY job. On the other hand, if you notice trouble throughout your home, or if it seems like some of your pipes are leaking, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local plumber for a more thorough overview and assistance.
3.) Consider Making Some Upgrades
Do you know the age of your plumbing fixtures and appliances? If these important features are old or out of date, they could be wasting a lot of water, and adding to your utility bills in a major way.
For one thing, older plumbing elements are more likely to have wear and tear that can cause small leaks or cut down on their efficiency. Older systems are also more likely to break down altogether, which could eat into your budget, while also leaving you high and dry right when you need fresh water the most.
And that’s just the worst case scenario. Day to day, the reality is that many modern fixtures and appliances are simply more efficient and effective than their older counterparts. Making a few small upgrades could result in you saving thousands of gallons of water per year, while also cutting down on your utility bills. Look around and see what switches you could make, considering options like low-flow toilets and showerheads, more energy efficient water heaters, ultra-efficient dishwashers and washing machines, and so on. Updating even on or two of your home’s features could help you conserve an enormous amount of water over time.
4.) Turn Off Taps and Faucets
During the hot summer months, spending a long time luxuriating in the shower can feel refreshing. But on the whole, one of the most effective ways to lower your household’s water usage is to cut down on the amount of time you spend running water from your taps and faucets.
In fact, cutting down your showers by just two minutes can help save up to 1,750 gallons of water a year, according to Live Science. Meanwhile? According to Popular Mechanics, the average bath uses between 30 and 50 gallons of water, while a water-efficient shower can cut the amount of water you’ll use in half. Similarly, per Live Science, washing dishes by hand can use up to 27 gallons of water per session, compared to just three gallons with an energy-efficient dishwasher.
In short, remember that little changes can have a big impact. This summer, if water conservation is on your mind, consider taking shorter showers, turning off the water while you shave or brush your teeth, and waiting to use your dishwasher or washing machine until you have a full load to clean.
5.) Care for Your Lawn and Garden Strategically
During the summer months, many of us want to enjoy the outdoors by working on our lawns and gardens. Taking a few simple steps can help you flex your green thumb, while wasting less water overall.
For instance, try to water your lawn and plants early in the morning or later in the evening, instead of in the middle of the day. With lower temperatures and less direct sunlight, the water you use in the morning and evening is more likely to remain in the soil, instead of quickly evaporating away.
Meanwhile, consider reusing water, by collecting it from sources around the house, or setting up a rain barrel system. Focus your water use, and try to make sure that you’re always spraying your hose or setting your sprinkler on the areas that actually need to be watered, instead of wasting precious water by having it splash onto your sidewalks, driveway, or patio.
And finally, think about how you’re setting up your landscaping features. For example, using mulch is a great way to give your garden the look and shape you want, while also helping lock in more moisture. This season, you might also think about updating your landscaping, adding features that require less water, like cacti, succulents, and “drought-resistant” plants. You might also consider adding a stone garden, or replacing some of your old brick pathways with permeable pavers, which can help prevent wasteful runoff.
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At Baird & Warner, we’ve been helping people fulfill their real estate dreams since 1855. That’s a lot of hot summers under our belt! Looking for a resource to talk all things real estate in Chicagoland? We get you.
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