Ask the Readers: How Do You Use Less Water?

By Ashley Jacobs on 22 July 2014 56 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Lynda, Bethany, and Elena for winning this week's contest!

Water conservation is a big deal here in California these days. But even if your area isn't suffering from drought, saving money and reducing our impact on the environment are still good reasons to use less water.

How do you use less water? What is your main reason for conserving water — financial, environmental, practical? Is there any part of your life that might be considered wasting water, but you just can't give up?

Tell us how you use less water and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For extra entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, July 28th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after July 28th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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56 discussions

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Guest's picture

Living in an apartment it gets tricky to save water, but I did install a HYR270 HydroRight Drop-in Dual Flush Converter in the toilet, replaced the shower heads with better ones, installed a Pur water filter on the kitchen sink (tap water is cheaper then bottles) and wash only full loads of laundry. The biggest things are habits like keeping pots covered, only using as much water as you need for a given task, and making sure the faucets are not running when they don't need to be.

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

I turn the water off when I brush my teeth.

Guest's picture

We replaced our kiddie pool with a water table. The baby likes splashing in it just as much, but to fill it takes just 1-2 watering cans of water, rather than 10-15 cans. We got the water table at the thrift store, which made the swap even more cost-effective.

Guest's picture

I fill the sink and don't turn the faucet on until I'm ready to rinse all my dishes, so I do it quickly. Also, turn the water off when brushing my teeth

Guest's picture
serenity he

i collect all the cold shower water before i step into the shower. later i use it to water my plants.
after washing my veggies, i pour the water into a gallon jug and water my trees and plants.
after washing the dishes and it's time to rinse, i run the faucet over the soaped dishes as i rinse, this was the dishes almost clean when i get to the bottom ones.

Guest's picture
Tina in NJ

I've been turning off the water while brushing my teeth for years. When the weather' swarm, I'll try to remember to turn the shower off while I soap up, but when it's cold out, I indulge in a hot shower.

Guest's picture

I turn off the water when shaving or brushing my teeth!

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Ernest S.

We replaced our lawn with rocks/pebbles. The upfront cost was a bit high, but the low maintenance and upkeep costs have definitely been useful, especially in our California drought.

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Susan P.

I don't let the water run while brushing my teeth or hand washing dishes. I only run the dishwasher when it is full.

Guest's picture

I don't leave the water running when brushing my teeth or washing dishes and I take quick showers.

Guest's picture

I use any leftover drinking water (the water left in our family's cups and glasses at the end of the day) to water our potted plants. Not only are we experiencing drought in our state but in our city, we also pay for water based on usage.

Guest's picture

We installed a Comfort Pump (hot water recirculation pump -- This avoids having to run the water in the morning to warm it up before we shower. Our water took a long time to warm up before, and now it is just a few seconds. This wastes natural gas but saves water. We live in CA and we're in a drought...and it also gives an element of comfort as the name implies.

Guest's picture

Don't water the lawn! I let nature take care of that one. Same with our veggie garden, unless we haven't had rain.

Guest's picture

We let our Pacific Northwest lawn die in the hottest part of summer, rather than water in. When the rains start again in October (and continue until the end of June), it springs back lush and green.

Guest's picture

I take shorter showers to conserve water and save money

Guest's picture

I try to keep my showers short and don't water the lawn in the middle of the day in the summer.

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Mary W

I save water by using several large rain barrels.We use that water to fill bird baths, water flower beds, rinse our feet and dozens of other outdoor uses. I save thousands of gallons of water every year and have pure clean rain water to use.

Guest's picture

honestly, i just take short showers...unlike my roommate (female, too) who literally spends 45 minutes in the shower. unreal. i've actually timed it. but for me, i really do take short showers, rarely take baths, and i'm good at doing laundry in 1 load if possible, even if it's one larger load than 2 smaller loads, it's still saving water.

Guest's picture

I hope your roommate pays more than half of the water bill! If she had to pay more perhaps she'd use less.

Guest's picture

I only run the dishwasher when it's full.

Guest's picture

I turn the water off when I brush my teeth.

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Happy Love

We use a reduced flow shower head.

Guest's picture

hey, if you only have one child (or none) you'll be saving any amount of water by reducing the population

Guest's picture

It takes so long to get the hot water to the kitchen sink. I let pitchers fill until it gets hot enough to wash the dishes. Then I pour the water into a 5 gal. bucket in the basement to help fill the washing machine. This has saved us money and water. On average it's about a gal. until the water gets hot enough. I couldn't imagine letting the water run that long, it too wasteful.

Guest's picture

My town has a preset amount of water that you pay for and then extra if you go over that usage, which I never have so I must already be doing something right. I do things such as turn off water when brushing my teeth, but it was more habit than conservation.

Guest's picture

We installed a shut off switch on the shower head. So when someone takes a shower they get in with the water on to get wet, turn off the water at the shower head to soap up, and then turn it back on to rinse off. Once we started using that our water bill dropped by about 1/3 of our usual amount!

Guest's picture

We bought a new dishwasher that uses less water.

Guest's picture

We consider limiting water use a matter of living responsibly. To do our part during the drought, we've put in WaterSense labeled toilets (1.28 gallons per flush) and showerheads (1.5 gallons per minute). These were low-cost changes that have a big impact. We take 5-minute showers and turn off the water while soaping. Instead of letting water run down the drain while it's warming up, we catch it in a bucket and use it to water the garden. Same when doing the dishes. We've also stopped watering the lawn in the backyard: we're planning on getting rid of most of it in favor of more water-wise landscaping anyway.

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Wendy Roberson Welch

We turn the water off while brushing our teeth and wash up several dishes before rinsing instead of leaving the water running to rinse continuosly.

Guest's picture

I work from home a lot, so when it's just me during the day I try to limit flushing the toilet. I do the same if I have to get up in the middle of the night. I also run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full, and try not to let water run too long in my sinks. I have always taken short showers so that's a habit, too!

Guest's picture

I turn the shower water off when I'm soaping up and shaving. I also turn the water off while I'm washing my hands and brushing my teeth.

Guest's picture

1. I don't run the water while brushing my teeth, washing my face, etc.
2. When I'm running water in the kitchen sink waiting for hot water, I fill gallon jugs, which I use to water the plants.
3. I catch water that runs from our gutter in large buckets, which I use to water plants on the porch. (I should probably invest in a rain barrel)
4. We've installed a low-flow, double-flush toilet in our main bathroom. Plan to install one in the 2nd bathroom soon.

Guest's picture
Dee Dee

Low flow shower head, turn off water when brushing teeth, have a bucket at my sink for rinsing dishes or capturing the cold water until it gets hot and watering plants in the garden, run dish washer when full, full loads of laundry, not flushing the toilet each time if just urine (sounds gross, but we have a well) fill water pitcher and keep in fridge so not runiing water from sink until real cold for a drink

Guest's picture

The hot water of my shower only comes out after my 3 gallons buckets is filled. I use that water to flush my toilet. I only water the plants when needed and I do not water the lawn. I hand wash the dishes and turn off the faucet when i am not rinsing them. I do not let the water run when i brush my teeth

Guest's picture

My 19mo daughter and I shower together. We let the yellow mellow and flush the brown down. I recycle the water collected by my dehumidifier. We don't water the grass. We have dual flush toilets. We have aerators on the faucets. I set my washing machine to the smallest load for water filling but wash average size loads. The clothes still get clean. I keep pots covered when boiling water. Don't run the water when shaving or brushing teeth. Run full dishwasher loads. Limit the kids' shower time for the two who shower alone.

Guest's picture
Margaret Davis

Full loads of cold water laundry (the setting seems to use less water), full loads in the dishwasher, quick showers, don't run the water while brushing teeth, etc. Nothing to amazing but with a household of two we try to limit where we can

Guest's picture

My family's motto (to be kind to the septic system) "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down."

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Jan J

We fill a bucket while the shower gets warm, use it to water plants. Also turn off water while soaping up.

Guest's picture

I installed low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets many years ago. When my son learned about water conservation in school last year we started doing more. We capture the water from the shower while we wait for it to warm up and use it on our low water requirement plants in the back yard. We make sure we turn off the faucet while we are brushing our teeth, don't turn on the dishwasher until we have a full load and only wash full loads of clothing in the washer.

Guest's picture

We shut off the water while brushing our teeth and use a low flow shower head.

Guest's picture

I don't pay for water, so my reasons for saving are environmental mostly. I really just hate to waste anything!

I turn off the water when brushing my teeth. I try not to linger in the shower. I only run the washing machine when I have a full load of clothes. Every little bit helps.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

I put a bucket under the tub's faucet and catch all the water that would go down the drain in it while I'm waiting for the it to warm up. It also catches all the water that would be lost when I turn off the shower. Our water costs so very much, so I'm always looking at ways to conserve.

Guest's picture

I limit myself to a 3 minute shower with a kitchen timer, I never fill the sink water to the top or even middle of the sink, I never just let the water run aimlessly. I always do a full load of laundry, never small or medium loads.

Guest's picture

In the shower, I turn off the water while I soap my body and wash my hair. I turn it back on to rinse off. Most of the time in the shower is spent soaping yourself, so I think I've reduced my shower water consumption by more than 50% this way.

I also collect the gray water in a bucket while taking a shower. I use it to flush the toilet after I shower. (You simply pour the bucket of water into a used toilet and it drains automatically).

I try not to pour any water down the drain. I use left over water glasses (from parties, etc.) to fill the dog bowl or water plants.

Guest's picture

We made the one time decision at purchase of our washing machine and also when we replaced toilets to go for the models that save water.

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Toni B

I fill up empty water bottles from the tap instead of buying water...saves plastic too!

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Susan Smith

I don't leave the water running when brushing my teeth or washing dishes, I take quick showers and don't water the lawn.

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Laura J

To save water we wash on shorter cycles, save rain water to water our plants and garden, turn off the water when brushing our teeth, and make sure all our faucet drips are fixed when they happen(those can sure add up overnight if you collect those little drops)!

Guest's picture
Alissa A

I always turn the water off when not in use...while washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.

Guest's picture

i water the garden 5 mins less everyday and set it in the middle of the night when it's cooler

Guest's picture

Using the water caught by the dehumidifier to water plants.

Guest's picture

It can be tricky trying to monitor water usage when living with roommates, but I only do full loads of laundry, turn off the tap when I'm brushing my teeth, and try to take quick showers.

Guest's picture

We spent a whopping $20 on two investments:

A shower head with an on/off button


A timer (it was "kitchen ready" and waterproof--hence the higher price tag)

We time ourselves in the shower. We are both allotted 10 minutes of shower time. That saves the expectation of a long, happy, relaxing shower. (We figure, showers are for cleaning, baths are for people who like to sit in their own filth. Yuck!) The timer goes on the second the water does.

Then, we turn the button to "on" and wet hair and body. Then shower head goes off. Soap up, shampoo all at once, shave legs or whatever, and then the shower head goes back on again.

It has paid for the initial investment more than triple in just the first water bill cycle. So much so that the water company actually called to make an appointment to come "inspect the pipes" because they thought we were scamming them.

(We also hand wash almost everything now with a homemade washing setup, and save lots of money that way, so I can see why they were confused in a 3 month time span.)

Guest's picture
Tabathia B

Well we take shorter showers, we never let the water run when brushing teeth or washing dishes. We do this due to financial reasons and to help the environment.

Guest's picture

I put a watch pitcher in the shower while I shower then use the water to flush toilets or water my garden. Also leave buckets around the yard to collect rainwater for dry days.

Guest's picture

We save water by taking short showers and scrubbing dishes before rinsing them. We also save water by watering the yard when my son plays in the grass with the hose. I don't save money on water by not having plants and grass that I enjoy, because it truly saves money on air conditioning my house. It keeps the house much cooler than the rock desert landscape that most around here have.