5 Simple Tips and Tricks for Saving (and Reusing) Water Around the House

Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/faircompanies/">Nicolas Boullosa</a>/Flickr/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">Creative Commons</a>

When it comes to conserving water during the drought, we're often given a number of solutions that aren't always feasible for the average renter or homeowner: replacing faucets or toilets, ripping up the lawn, installing gray water collection systems. For those of us with limited resources, it's good to know a little effort can go a long way toward water conservation — and it doesn't have to involve appliance rebates from LADWP.

Here are five simple tips for saving water during your usual household routines, and reusing it elsewhere around the home:

Tip #1 Catch your warm-up water in a bucket.
Place a bucket in the shower or tub to catch running water as you wait for it to heat up. If your heater is far from the point of use, you might be surprised to see just how much water is wasted down the drain before you even step inside to get wet. Save that water to shower your garden or houseplants instead, or to rinse off dirty paws after a muddy walk.

Tip #2 Place a wash basin in the kitchen sink.
A large basin serves multiple purposes in a sink: You can catch the water as you're waiting for it to heat up. (On the flip side, you can also catch the water if you're the type to leave it running while you wait for it to get cold.) You can use said (clean) water to rinse fruits and vegetables, and even to rinse utensils that only stirred tea or cut bread. Whenever you wash your hands, wash them above the basin and reuse the gray water for soaking dishes later.

Tip #3 Place a watering can under leaky hoses and spigots.
If you're out watering the garden with a hose and notice that it leaks from the spigot, put a watering can underneath it and collect all that water for your potted plants or bird bath. Indoor houseplants also love the occasional shower, so you can place those under a leaky spigot (instead of in your bathroom shower) for a quick wash and water.

Tip #4 Make it a one-pot meal when you cook.
If your recipe calls for boiling multiple things at different times — say, pasta and vegetables — reuse the same pot of water rather than cooking with a couple of pots on the stove. Start with the pasta first and strain it, then boil the vegetables and strain those, and save a cup of that starchy, vitamin-filled water to bind your sauce. Once that water cools, use it to provide nutrients to your houseplants.

Tip #5 Only run water-intensive appliances when they're full.
Whether it's the dishwasher or the clothes washer, strive to run a load only when it's completely full. Skip the extra rinse cycle unless the load really needs it (in which case, try to group all the super grimy things together into the same load). Soak dirty dishes in your wash basin (see Tip #1) before they go in the dishwasher, and pretreat laundry stains before you throw them in the wash so you don't have to run a second cycle for half-clean clothes.

About the Author

Linda Ly runs the award-winning blog Garden Betty, which chronicles her adventures in the dirt and on the road. Her first book, The CSA Cookbook, will be out March 2015.
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