Water-saving renovations are money-saving renovations. Leaky pipes, outdated appliances and poor irrigation practices hike up your water and energy bills and wreak havoc on your septic system. And in drought-ridden states, wasting water can even subject you to hefty fines and usage audits.
Luckily, many water-saving home renovations are simple and inexpensive. And costlier renovations, like purchasing and installing new appliances, can offer long-term gains by saving thousands of gallons of water a year. Whether you're renovating to fix an existing water problem or looking to save money with increased sustainability, here are some popular projects to consider.
Repair leaking pipes and faucets: Hidden leaks can flood your lawn and destroy your home's interior. One indicator of a leak is an inconsistent water meter reading. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when water isn't being used. If the meter reading changes between readings, you probably have a leak. Damp walls, excess mold, cracks in pavement, unusually high water bills and a noticeable drop in water pressure may also indicate a leak. If your home shows any of these signs, consider calling a pro to inspect your pipes.
Install sprinklers with timers or rain sensors: Putting sprinklers on a timer can keep your water output consistent and keep you from having to monitor its progress. Unattended hoses and sprinklers can waste hundreds of gallons of water in just a few hours. Set your timer for early in the morning (6 to 7 a.m.) so the water won't evaporate in the sunlight.
Another inexpensive water saving trick is to add rain sensors to your sprinklers. The sensors will tell them to skip an irrigation cycle if there is rainfall.
Install a rain barrel: Collecting rainwater that your roof or lawn naturally accumulate can save you a lot of water. Installing a rain barrel is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce your water bill and your ecological footprint.
Use a drip irrigation system: Better yet, consider installing a drip irrigation system to water your lawn. A drip system applies a small amount of water uniformly on your lawn. Another benefit? It's more accurate than sprinklers. No more dead grass and brown spots.
Install a water aerator on your kitchen sink: A water aerator limits water flow to a non-splashing stream. This slows the flow of water to cut water waste. To install the water aerator, simply screw it onto your faucet head.
Purchase a low-flow or dual flush toilet: A low-flow or dual flush toilet will save thousands of gallons of water a year and reduce the load on your septic system, thereby extending its life span. With a dual flush system, you can even purchase a model with different buttons for solid and liquid waste, customizing how much water you put out and reducing water use by up to 67 percent.
Or, repair your current toilet. Over time, the parts (especially the flapper valve) corrode, bend and become less efficient, which causes leaks. These parts are generally inexpensive and easy to install.
Buy a new showerhead: Installing a new showerhead is a cheap, easy change you can make to save water. You want a showerhead that delivers 2.5 gallons of water per minute or less (as opposed to older models which deliver 8 gallons per minute).
Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models: Front-load washing machines save up to half the water of a top-load washer.
Look for Energy Star-qualified appliances that meet the energy saving standards of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.