Photograph by Vincent Laforet
How to Help
Water-Watchers: How to Help
One of the simplest ways to save water is to pay attention to how much you use. In one study, college students dribbled away 11 percent less when their dorm rooms were fitted with water monitors. Conventional water meters can be hard to read. One system, available soon, tracks water and energy use and displays gallons and dollars spent on a screen. A few simple lifestyle changes can drop consumption numbers. Turning off the tap while brushing teeth can save 50 gallons a week. A low-flow showerhead can reduce the annual shower budget by 2,600 gallons or more. Deeper savings might require higher technology:
In the tank
Dual-flush toilets let users opt for a full flush (1.6 gallons) or a half: Touch a button to choose. Household savings can top 10,500 gallons a year.
Gray-water plumbing systems treat wastewater from sinks and showers and route it back to flush toilets.
Launder with less
Keep off the grass
Front-loading washing machines only fill partway with water, drawing about 15 gallons less each use than top loaders.
Watering accounts for 30 percent of suburban family water use. Drip irrigators need half the water sprinklers do. Collect rainwater to water plants.