Sensible Water Use

If your water comes from a public water supply, the advice that comes from your water utility should always be your first guide to home water use.

If you have a private well, often you are as much concerned with avoiding a temporary over-withdrawal from your well, which can damage your pump and necessitate expensive repairs.


  • Make sure your home is leak-free.
    • If you are on public water: When you are certain that no water is being used in your home, take a reading of the water meter. Wait 30 minutes and then take a second reading. If the meter reading changes, you have a leak!
    • If you have a well at home: Check your pump periodically. If the pump turns on and off while water is not being used, you have a leak.
  • Repair drInstall ipping faucets. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year!
  • Don't pour water down the drain: Use it to water your indoor plants or garden or flush the toilet.
  • Even out your use of water. If you have adequate water but not much more, this can help prevent a temporary shortage, and damage to your pump. Space out the family showers, or do laundry late at night (see additional laundry tips below).


    • Check for toilet leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If you have a leak, the color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. (Flush immediately to avoid stains.)
    • If the toilet handle frequently sticks in the flush position letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
    • Leaky toilets usually can be fixed inexpensively by replacing the flapper.
    • Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. (A brick should not be used because loose pieces can cause damage to the internal parts. Instead, place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow or purchase a device available at most hardware and home centers designed for this purpose.) Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
    • Take shorter showers.
    • Replace your shower head with an ultra-low-flow version.
    • Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants or flushing the toilet.
    • In the shower, turn the water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn the water back on to rinse. Repeat when washing your hair.
    • Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving.
    • Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet to avoid flushing unnecessarily.


    • Operate automatic dishwasher only when it is fully loaded. Use the "light wash" feature if available to use less water.
    • When hand washing dishes, save water by filling two containers, one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.
    • Most dishwashers can clean soiled dishes very well, so dishes do not have to be rinsed before washing. Just remove large particles of food, and put the soiled dishes in the dishwasher.
    • Store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.
    • Defrost meat or other frozen foods overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave, rather than by using running water.
    • Heat water on the stove or in the microwave. If you have to run it to get hot, capture it for other uses such as plant watering.
    • Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water rather than running water from the tap. Re-use the water that vegetables are washed in for cleaning or watering plants.
    • Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste, or simply dispose of food in the garbage.
    • Consider use of disposable plates and cups to reduce water use.


    • Operate automatic clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of your load.
    • Consider washing your clothes at a laundromat.

    Long-Term Water Conservation

    • Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
    • Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models.
    • Consider installing an instant hot water heater on your sink
    • Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking if you have a sudden and unexpected spell of freezing weather.
    • Install a water-softening system only when the minerals in the water would damage your pipes. Turn the softener off while on vacation.
    • When purchasing a new appliance, choose one that is energy and water efficient, like a front loading washing machine.

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