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A water sprinkler on a lawn

1. Toilet Train

A high-efficiency toilet uses 20 percent less water than a standard model, on average. But even the most efficient toilet won’t conserve water if it’s leaking. Mark the water level in the tank with a pencil when it has refilled after flushing. If the level drops after a few minutes, it’s leaking. A “running” toilet can waste 200 gallons per day. Find good leak-plugging information at

Then there’s flushing itself. A single flush can use 1.6 gallons to 7 gallons of water, depending on the toilet (low-flow toilets need less). So get used to keeping the lid down, and when there are no solids involved, conserve flushes.

2. Wash Smart

Do laundry less often to avoid half-loads. When it’s time for a new washer, go for a front-load; it uses one-third less water than a top-load. Washing machines certified by the EPA’s Energy Star program conserve both water and energy.

3. Shorten Showers

A 10-minute shower uses 50 gallons of water. A full bathtub may contain up to 70 gallons of water. Don’t be afraid to shower every other day instead of daily during cooler seasons: Your body will quickly adjust, and your skin’s microbiome (which can get depleted by too much soap) will thank you.

4. Tighten Up

Fix dripping faucets by replacing the washers. A one-drop-per-second drip can waste 2,500 gallons in a year.

5. Water Mindfully

The typical single-family suburban household uses at least 30 percent of its overall water use for lawns and gardens, according to the EPA. You can use less by watering at sundown or early morning; this helps water stay in the ground rather than evaporating in the sun. Experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscaping water goes to waste from evaporation or runoff caused by overwatering.

This originally appeared as “Every Drop Counts” in “Troubled Waters” in the June 2017 issue of Experience Life.

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