How do I conserve water?
Dripping faucets and running toilets are more than a nuisance. They waste water and cost money.
A slow, steady drip can waste as much as 350 gallons of water a month. Water saved is money earned!
Water Efficiency Tips
Did you know that all water is recycled? We drink the same water that the dinosaurs did, and future generations will drink that same water. That's why it's our job to use water wisely and protect water supplies whenever and wherever possible. If we each save a small amount of water each day, our combined savings will add up to millions of gallons each year.
In the Bathroom...
Two thirds of the water used in the average home is in the bathroom, mostly for flushing toilets, showers, and baths.
- Turn off the water when you are not using it. Don't let it run while you brush your teeth or shave.
- Flush the toilet less often. Put used tissues, trash, hair, paper towels, etc. in the wastebasket instead of flushing them.
- Fix leaks and drips. This is often simply a matter of changing a washer.
- Retrofit older plumbing fixtures with flow-reducing devices.
- Take shorter showers. Less than 5 minutes is adequate, any longer is recreation.
- Take baths. A partially filled tub uses less water than a short shower.
In the Kitchen and Laundry...
- Use appliances efficiently. Run full loads in the dish or clothes washer or, if your appliance has one, use a load size options.
- Buy a water saver. Choose new appliances that are designed to minimize water use.
- Clean vegetables and fruit efficiently. Use a vegetable brush to expedite cleaning.
- Use garbage grinders as little as possible. Start a compost pile.
- Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator. Avoid running the tap just to cool water for drinking or utilize that water for other uses such as watering plants.
Lawn and Garden
- Water the lawn and garden only when necessary. Early morning or evening are the best times. Let grass grow higher in dry weather. Mulch your trees and plants. Avoid watering driveways and sidewalks.
- Deep-soak your lawn. Allow the moisture to soak down to the roots where it does the most good. A light sprinkling evaporates quickly.
- Plant drought resistant trees and plants. Many beautiful trees and plants thrive with less watering, particularly native species.
- Wash your car sensibly. Clean the car with a pail of soapy water and use the hose only for a quick rinse. Allow water to run into a hedge or shrub rather than down the gutter.
- Use a rain barrel.
Be a Leak Seeker
Leaks. Unseen or unfixed, they can drip hundreds, even thousands of gallons of water wastefully down the drain. A little detective work several times a year can catch these water thieves in the act and put them out of circulation.
Toilets: Approximately 27% of your water usage comes from toilet flushing. A leaky toilet can have a major impact on your bill. The toilet is one of the most common water wasters but its leaks tend to be less noticeable than faucet leaks.
Here are some obvious signs of a leaking toilet:
- Jiggling the handle to make a toilet stop running.
- Sounds coming from a toilet that is not being used.
- Holding the handle down to allow the tank to empty.
- Seeing water trickling down the sides of the toilet bowl long after it’s been flushed .
- Toilets flushing on their own without touching the handle – phantom flushing.
Possible causes of toilet leaks include:
- Chain or strap in the tank that is too long and doesn’t lift the flapper or ball high enough to float on its own.
- Bad flush valve (located in the center of the tank). Check the ball, flapper, seal or gasket under the flush valve.
- Bad refill valve (located in the left side of the toilet tank).
Faucets: Approximately 16% of your usage comes through your faucet. Each faucet that drips 60 times a minute adds up to 1,225 gallons per year of wasted water. Faucet leaks can occur inside your home or at your outside spigot. Repair or replace a leaky faucet. Most leaks result from worn washers in household faucets and showerheads. These faucets, as well as seldom-used taps in the basement or storage rooms, should be checked periodically. Faucet leaks are usually caused by worn washers or "O" rings (for washerless faucets). Repairing faucet leaks is easy. All you have to do is turn off the water supply line to that faucet, replace the washer and turn on the line again. Any good do-it-yourself book will offer advice on this simple task. If you're not a do-it-yourselfer, have the work done by someone who knows how to do the job.
Outside Taps: Check the outside taps for leaking water, particularly during the summer sprinkling season. A hose mistakenly left dribbling away in the grass or garden can waste thousands of gallons of water over the course of a summer. Remember to close outside faucets tightly every time you shut off the water!
Toilet Dye Test
Toilet Although water may not be seen or heard running, your toilet may have a silent leak.
- Drip 10 to 15 drops of food coloring into the toilet tank. DO NOT FLUSH.
- Wait 10 minutes.
- If colored water appears in the toilet bowl, you have a leak.
- Generally the leak is in or around the plunger ball or flapper valve at the bottom of the tank.
- These leaks are easy to fix with do-it-yourself parts from your local hardware store or you can contact your plumber. There are also several websites on the internet that demonstrate how to find and fix a toilet leak.
Water Conservation Kits
The Portland Water District offers, at cost, water conservation kits. These kits which include low-flow showerheads and toilet tank banks will help you reduce your water usage, which could lower your water, sewer, and electric bills.