You may think more about conserving water in the summer while watering your veggie garden, filling kiddie pools, and making gallons of lemonade. Although we don’t use nearly as much water outside during winter months, however, this is just as important of a season to assess your usage and consider new ways to conserve water.
Wrap Your Pipes
Much of the country gets cold at some point this season. In some older homes, pipes can freeze and ultimately burst, which is an expensive problem at a cumbersome time of year. To combat this effect, some households resort to letting their faucets drip the entire winter so there’s always water flowing through their pipeline. But with a slow leak of a drip every three seconds (20 drips per minute), nearly three gallons of water would be lost and wasted daily, according to the American Water Works Association’s Drip Calculator. Instead of wasting water to defrost your pipes, consider insulating them from the outside to keep them warm. Wrapping your pipes also keeps hot water hotter, allowing you to use even less energy to heat it. Of course, maybe your faucet isn’t dripping for fear of frost—maybe it just drips on its own. You always have some time indoors in the winter to fix this problem, too.
Know Your Shut-Off
Although you’ll hopefully never have to deal with a bursting pipe, it’s crucial to know where your main water shut-off valve is and how to do so in the event that there’s a problem. Down the road, utility issues could build up and flood your home, causing damage and wasted water. It’s a great idea to keep the required tool (usually a wrench, sized appropriately) right next to the valve so you don’t have to hunt for it during such an urgent, damp situation.
Invest in a New Shower Head
It’s so easy to linger in a warm, steamy shower longer following a chilly run or when the mercury is low. To enjoy the same leisure without feeling as guilty, install a low-flow shower head. Select a model that has the US EPA-certified WaterSense logo, which recognizes shower heads that use two gallons of water per minute or less—saving an average family almost 3,000 gallons of water annually! Many of these heads also tout their ability to save water but boost water pressure at the same time. Remember that saving hot water saves the energy required to heat it, as well.
A Bucket in the Shower
As you wait (briefly) for the water to heat up in the shower, put a bucket under the flow to collect the water you’re not using. Then, think about how you can use this supply later on. Take what’s collected to a water treatment plant, offer it to your pets to drink, or simply save it for use during a snow-related power outage. This practice isn’t limited to the winter, but it can translate into a good habit all year and quite the savings on your monthly utility bill—which is already on the rise due to the much-needed use of heat.
Consider the Commode
Go the old-fashioned route, take a page from your Grandpa’s routine, and place a literal brick in the back of your toilet. This may be one of the easiest and least-expensive ways to conserve water. How? This brick will displace about a half-gallon of water each time you flush, and won’t really change the function of your toilet as it moves water and waste down the drain.
What other tips are on your top-five winter water conservation list? Let us know in the comments section, or with a #GoodMatters tweet to @tomsofmaine.
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