As a contractor, I’m always making the effort to build things that are sustainable and don’t leave a large footprint on Mother Earth. However, it’s just as important that I think about my footprint as a homeowner, too.
We’ve had a lot of rain back home lately, and it has got me thinking about water - how we use it, how we build with it, and most importantly, how we waste it. So much of the water we use to power our homes has been treated for human consumption, and often times, we use that water for chores that don’t call for it. We don’t have an infinite supply of treated drinking water, so we need to protect it.
So, let’s make smarter use of the water we use to power our homes. Here’s a few ways you can start:
Changing the Landscape
It can take a lot of water to keep our lawns and gardens looking green and fresh. How can we reduce our reliance on water that’s been treated for human consumption, while keeping our yards looking great?
Personally, I’m a big fan of collecting rainwater and reusing it to keep my landscape beautiful. You can collect water runoff from a roof by having your gutters expel rain right into a rain barrel, or you can install a cistern underground to store water runoff until you need it.
Tip: A rain barrel can help homeowners save 1,300 gallons of water during the summer months.
These water collection systems can take off a lot of the pressure or reliance on municipal water systems. Once your collections system is in place, you’ll passively collect water, giving you a renewable source that you can use to water your lawns and gardens.
And if you’re someone who loves to garden, plant things that are native to your area. They’ll require less active maintenance and can provide food and shelter to the local wildlife that need it.
Change your Fixtures
Did you know that a large percentage of the water we use comes from our washroom use? So, if you’re tackling water conservation inside the home, start with your bathroom.
Swapping out your old plumbing fixtures for efficient ones can significantly reduce your daily water usage. Efficient shower heads reduce water usage to a little over one gallon per minute.
High-efficiency toilets use a little over one gallon of water per flush, while some older models can use five to seven. Think about how many times you flush the toilet in a day - that’s going to add up quickly.
Tip: By turning the tap off while brushing your teeth, you can save up to 1.5 gallons of water - per brush!
Check your fixtures for leaks. It may seem small, but a leaky tap can add up to a lot of wasted water throughout the year (enough to fill a few bathtubs!).
If we think carefully about our relationship with water and how we use it, we can start to take steps to protect it. It’s on all of us to keep this important resource around for the next generation.