There are numerous ways homeowners can reduce water use. Pipes, toilets, and faucets routinely can be checked for leaks by using water meters. Water-saving appliances such as faucet aerators and restrictive shower heads also can be used. In a yard, drought-resistant plants, lawns, or shrubs could be considered. Various watering techniques and the addition of mulch to yard designs also can lead to water conservation.
When a faucet or pipe has a small leak, about 20 gallons of water can be wasted on a daily basis. More than 100 gallons of water can be wasted each day if larger leaks occur. Although some leaks can be determined visually, a water meter can help find hidden leaks.
To use a water meter to check for leaks in a home, check the meter to establish the base number and then wait two hours. During those two hours, do not use any water. Once the two hours have elapsed, check the number on the water meter again. If the number has changed at all, it typically indicates a water leak is present.
Food coloring can be placed into the tank of a toilet to help check for a water leak. Check the toilet bowl periodically for the next 30 minutes. The toilet has a leak if, within that time frame, the food coloring appears in the toilet bowl.
How the toilet is used also can have a significant impact on water conservation. Some people use the toilet as a place to discard excess trash, such as facial tissue, and then flush. Each time they do so, anywhere from five to seven gallons of water typically has been wasted. Generally, however, the toilet should be flushed after any other use for sanitary purposes.
Many newer toilets have, as part of their construction, ways to conserve water use. For better water use with older toilets, an inch or two of pebbles or sand can be placed into two plastic water bottles. The bottles should be filled with water, and the caps tightly secured. When the bottles are placed into the tank of the toilet away from any of the mechanisms, up to 10 gallons of water might be saved per day. The bottles usually should be changed whenever the water inside them starts to look murky.
Faucet aerators and shower-head restrictors are other ways homeowners can conserve water use. In faucet aerators, water and air mix together to control the amount of water that flows through the faucet. Shower-head restrictors can do the same thing for water distribution, but they often also have built-in temperature monitors.
Temperature monitors are designed to reduce the full stream of a shower to a small trickle once water has become hot, indicating that the shower is ready. Once a person enters the shower, they then can select full stream again. The amount of water that would have been wasted during the interim thus can be saved.
Water use in the yard can be limited by incorporating various shrubs, plants, or lawns that are drought-resistant. For example, instead of using herbaceous borders or exotic plants and grasses, native variants of each can be used. Lawns usually should be sparingly watered, and only when footprints actually leave indentations in them. To promote water retention, it is recommended to keep the lawn at around three inches tall at any given time.