With water scarcity an ever-growing issue, homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their water usage. Integrating water efficient fixtures, appliances, landscapes, and behaviors into our living spaces means we can substantially cut back on water waste. Creating an eco-friendly home through water conservation supports environmental sustainability and saves money on utility bills.
Upgrading Plumbing Fixtures
The first place to target is indoor plumbing fixtures, which account for over half of household water use. Installing WaterSense-labeled models that carry the EPA’s certification for efficiency can reduce water usage without compromising performance.
Re-Imagining the Yard and Garden
Traditional lawns guzzle huge volumes of water yet offer little environmental benefit. Re-imagining our outdoor spaces with water-wise landscaping reduces maintenance and conserves water. Replacing portions of lawn with native plants suited for local conditions cuts back on thirsty turf grass. Garden layouts organized into hydrozones – groupings with similar sun, soil, and irrigation needs – prevent over-watering of drought-tolerant plants.
The experts at Global Gutter Systems say that installing rainguard gutters means you can collect rainfall from the roof which can then be stored in cisterns or rain barrels and used to irrigate ornamental plantings. Mulching landscape beds with woodchips or gravel slows evaporation from the soil. Using permeable pavers or gravel for patios and walkways allows stormwater to soak back into the groundwater supply rather than running off the property.
Upgrading Irrigation Systems
Inefficient landscape irrigation wastes vast quantities of water. Drip irrigation systems apply water directly to the soil at plant roots using networks of pipes and emitters. These targeted systems prevent water loss from wind, evaporation, and runoff compared to overhead sprinklers. Installing moisture sensors tells the system when the soil is dry enough to require more water rather than running on timers. Adjusting spray patterns to avoid pavement, and inspecting for and fixing leaks further improves efficiency.
Embracing Drought-Tolerant Landscapes
In dry climates, embracing drought-tolerance transforms water-hungry conventional yards into beautiful, sustainable outdoor living spaces. Replace turf grass with low-water-using plants suited for regional conditions. Native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees evolve to thrive without heavy watering once established. Create focal points with succulents, agaves, yuccas, and cacti. Apply thick mulch to retain soil moisture. Group plants according to irrigation needs. Let lawns fade during drought, reviving when rains return.
Practicing Water-Wise Habits
Changing personal water consumption habits reduces household usage without requiring technology upgrades. Only run full loads of laundry and dishes to maximize each gallon of water. Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and take shorter showers. Sweep driveways, walks and patios rather than hosing them off. Avoid purchasing single-use plastic water bottles. Keep a jug of cold drinking water in the fridge. Teaching children about water conservation helps them establish lifelong sustainable habits.
Conserving Hot Water
Heating water consumes considerable household energy. Some simple efficiency measures help conserve both the water and the fuel to heat it. Insulating hot water pipes prevents heat loss in delivery. Setting water heaters to 120 degrees provides comfortable hot water for most uses without wasting energy. Install point-of-use water heater units for distant faucets rather than piping hot water long distances. Limit hot water use to only tasks requiring it such as bathing, washing dishes and cooking. Take military style showers: turn off water to lather up then back on to rinse off.
Creating an eco-friendly home requires an ongoing commitment to learning and actively managing household water systems. As problems arise or new conservation techniques become available, continually adapt spaces, and integrate solutions. Involve all residents, especially children, in understanding household water usage. Through persistent yet creative effort, homes can reduce their water footprint while maintaining beautiful, comfortable, and functional living spaces.