The Ultimate 2018 Guide to Conserving Water, Plus 50+ Gadgets, Items, & Helpful Resources to Help You ConserveSmart Shower Systems
In the past few years, drought has wreaked havoc on many places around the globe. Here in the US, California experienced one of the worst droughts on the books from 2011 to 2017. This exacerbated forest fires, jeopardized local crops, and, perhaps more positively, caused many Californians to think carefully about how they use water.
Despite the devastation of that drought and others, many water-conserving strategies and technologies have been developed to help folks in and out of drought-ridden areas cut back on unnecessary water use.
There are plenty of reasons why conserving water is a great idea. It's an incredibly important tool in the fight to save our environment and turn back the effects of global warming. Conserving water is also a simple way to save money on your water bills, particularly when you cut back on hot and cold water use which requires energy to bring water to temperature.
What’s more, conserving water is actually a really simple thing to do if you take the time to be more mindful about your water use. Water is a critical part of all aspects of our lives, and we can each do a few small things everyday to conserve, whether that’s taking a shorter shower, collecting our rainwater, or investing in a high-efficiency washing machine.
That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate 2018 guide for conserving water. Here’s what you’ll get in this guide:
- 6 of our best general tips for conserving water
- Tips for conserving water in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and yard, plus over 50 useful gadgets, devices, and apps that can help you cut back your water use
6 tips for conserving water
- The EPA rates fixtures and devices based on their efficiancy as well as their ability to conserve water. Those that receive high marks get the WaterSense label. Check to see if the products you purchase for your home are WaterSense approved.
- Relatedly, many states, counties, and cities offer rebates for trading in your old appliances and fixtures for new WaterSense-compliant ones. Check here for a list of rebates to see if you qualify.
- Make sure none of your faucets, pipes, or toilets are leaking, and be sure to fix any leaks as soon as you notice them.
- Take a look at the government websites for your state and local government, plus check out the federal and regional EPA chapters to find their advice on conserving water. There are also tons of independent resources online like this 100+ Ways to Conserve Water guide from the nonprofit Water Use It Wisely.
- Did you know meat consumption is one of the biggest uses of water out there? Cutting down on how much meat you eat is actually a great way to conserve water. Check out this fact sheet from the popular documentary Cowspiracy for more information.
- Relatedly, think about your “virtual water” consumption, which means the amount of water that’s necessary to produce the food you eat and other common goods. We’ve got several apps listed below that can help you learn more and track your consumption.
Tips and gadgets for conserving water throughout your home
How to save water when showering
According to EPA estimates, Americans use as much as 1.2 trillion gallons of water each year while showering. A great way to help conserve water in your home is to use devices that help you remember not to stay in the shower too long. Here’s a few great examples:
- Water Pebble. This device sits near your shower drain and calculates how much water you use. It has green, yellow, and red lights to let you know how much time you have before you’ve past your water limit, plus it shortens your shower period over time to train you to use less water. You can grab this one from Uncommon Goods.
- Shower timers. Placing a timer in the shower can also help you cut back on the amount of time you spend. These are a few affordable options:
Another smart way to conserve water is to install shower heads that are designed to use less gallons of water per minute without sacrificing functionality. Check these out:
Water conserving shower heads
- Niagara Conservation. Offers several different WaterSense-approved shower heads, including this 3 Spray option available for $7.79 at Home Depot.
- High Sierra. Offers higher-end WaterSense shower heads. Save 20% when you buy from them online.
- Kohler’s Awaken Shower Heads. Find them for as low as $16.99 on Home Depot and Amazon.
These shower fixtures are intelligently designed to help you track and save water:
- EvaDrop. Connects with an app to track your water consumption in the shower and adjust the speed of water flow, plus it flashes lights to let you know when it’s time to get out.
- Shower Hawk. Has an LED-display that tells you the shower temperature and water flow rate, plus allows you to decrease the maximum heat your shower can reach. Get it on Amazon.
Toilet gadgets for water conservation
Did you know that each time you flush the toilet you use anywhere from 1.6 to as much as 7 gallons of water? Toilets made before 1994 are the worst culprits, as regulations weren’t put into place restricting the flush maximum to 1.6 gallons yet at that time.
With most of us flushing several times a day, our bathroom water use can really start to add up. One thing you can do to conserve water is to only flush when it’s truly necessary — that old if it’s yellow let it mellow thing.
But, if that’s not appealing to you, one clever trick you can use to reduce the water your toilet uses per flush is to put a container filled with water in your toilet tank which reduces the actual amount of water stored in your tank. You can use a regular plastic bottle, but these specially-designed containers are a much more sanitary option:
- Toilet Tank Bank from Conservation Warehouse. This item features an anti-microbial coating and can save you up to .8 gallons of water per flush.
- Toilet Tummy. A similar product, although this one only saves .5 gallons per flush. Get it at Home Depot.
You can also get a special toilets that are designed to conserve water. Here are a handful of the best ones out there under $200:
- Glacier Bay High-Efficiency Dual Flush. Available from Home Depot for $99, this toilet meets stringent WaterSense standards and has two flush options for solid or liquid waste.
- Niagara Original Single Flush. This toilet only uses .8 gallons per flush, half the maximum that federal regulations require. It’s super low-maintenance, features a quiet Stealth flush system.
- American Standard Cadet Flo-Wise. In addition to being High-Efficiency at 1.28 gallons per flush, this toilet features American Standard’s EverClean surface which helps keep mold, mildew, and odors at bay.
Water conserving sinks
The simplest bet for cutting your water consumption in your sinks is to monitor your own use and make sure you turn your faucet off when you’re not using it. It’s helpful, for instance, to use a full sink to clean fruits and vegetables instead of using running water. It’s also smart to shut off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, shaving, or cleaning your face.
Of course, there’s also plenty of gadgets and fixtures you can install that will help you conserve even more water. One of the simplest is a faucet aerator or flow restrictor, a nozzle that can be attached to your existing faucet to slow down the flow of water. Here’s a few great examples:
- NEOPERL Aerators. This company offers several options that are compatible with different faucets. One of the coolest options is their dual-flow aerator that can switch from .5 gallons per minute to 2.2 gallons per minute depending on your needs..
- Bubble Stream Swivel Spray Aerator. The Bubble Stream Aerator is WaterSense-compliant at 1.5 gallons per minute, fits over most standard faucets, swivels, and has both a stream and spray option.
If you’re replacing or installing a new sink, you can also think about putting in a water-conserving fixture. These are some great, affordable options:
- Sink Positive. This invention is seriously cool. It’s a touch free sink that is retrofitted on top of your toilet. When you wash your hands after using the toilet, the “grey” water goes into the toilet tank and is then used to flush. Both models are available for under $150.
- iTouchless. You can make your bathroom or kitchen sink touch-free with this adaptor. Having a touch-free sink not only stops the spread of bacteria, but also saves water since it turns off automatically. The adaptor is a great affordable alternative to purchasing a hands-free faucet. Get it at Home Depot.
- Eastport Single-Handle Pull Down Sprayer. This kitchen faucet features a moveable sprayer attachment, is ADA-compliant, and is also WaterSense-compliant with a flow rate of 1.8 gallons per minute.
Laundry tips for conserving water
The simplest thing you can do to save water on laundry is to always wait to do laundry until you have a full load instead of running it frequently with less clothes.
One other option you have for conserving water in the laundry room is to wash your clothes with a manual machine like this one:
- Laundry Pod. This hand crank machine uses no electricity and can clean your clothes is as few as ten minutes. Plus, it’s completely portable, uses 90% less water than a normal machine, and features a spin-dry function that will get your clothes 90% dry.
For a simpler option, High-efficiency (HE) washers are a great way to cut down on water use as they typically use less than half the amount of water that older machines use. Some require as little as five gallons to wash a full load. Here are a few great HE washer options under $600:
- Samsung 4.2-cu ft High-Efficiency Stackable Front-Load Washer. This model not only uses very little water, but is also Energy Star approved and has a unique self-cleaning function that prevents the buildup of odor and bacteria without using harmful chemicals.
- GE 4.6-cu ft High-Efficiency Top Load Washing Machine. This machine is also Energy Star approved and has a bunch of useful water saving features including automatic water level adjustments, soaking options to get rid of stains, and takes high-efficiency laundry detergent that requires less water.
Water conserving dishwashers
You might be surprised to know that dishwashing actually saves more water than hand-washing. It’s true! The highest-efficiency washers today can do a full load with less than three gallons of water.
However, it’s still important to be smart about your dishwasher use. With a good washer, pre-rinsing your dishes shouldn’t be necessary and skipping the rinse beforehand saves extra water. You can also get one of these tools to scrape food off of dishes without water:
- Silicone Dish Squeegee. This inexpensive silicone squeegee can remove food bits easily so you don’t need to pre-rinse your dishes before putting them in the washer.
You should also make sure to only do your dishes when you’ve got a full load ready so you’re not wasting water doing many smaller loads. That said, here’s a few great high-efficiency dishwashers:
- Samsung StormWash 24”. This washer is one of Energy Star’s highest ranked machines. It uses only 3.2 gallons of water per load, has three racks, is super quiet at only 44db, and uses StormWash rinsing technology so you don’t have to pre-rinse your dishes. This one's from Best Buy.
- Blomberg DWT58500SS. At only 2.4 gallons of water per load, this machine is about as efficient as it gets. It also tops Energy Star’s rankings and comes with smart tines on the racks, a removable third rack, and super quiet cycles. We found it here from AJ Madison.
Lawn and garden gadgets for conserving water
Unfortunately, lawns and gardens wind up being a place where we overuse water, so much so that during droughts folks are often asked to stop watering their lawns. It’s important that you only use as much water as your plants need to stay alive and shut off your sprinklers or hoses when there’s enough rain to keep your plants healthy.
Smart watering systems
Thankfully there are now incredible smart watering systems that can help you calibrate just how much water your lawn needs to stay healthy. These are some great ones:
- Albohes Smart Water Sprinkler. This sprinkler can be voice controlled, plus it can customize watering for nine different zones on your lawn and uses local weather and historical statistics to skip watering when your lawn doesn’t need it.
- Orbit B-hyve 21004. This product is also Alexa-compatible and has similar features including using weather predictions and historical statistics to organize your watering. It also tracks your water usage and uses conditions like slope, sun/shade, and soil type to determine how much water your lawn needs.
When it comes to watering your plants, you’ll also want to be equipped to save water. These hoses and attachments can help you reduce your water use:
- Seven Spray Nozzle. Uses seven different spray settings and has a knob that controls the volume of water that comes out of the hose. Plus, it’s only $3.50 at Conservation Warehouse.
- Basic Lawn and Garden Outdoor Water Saving Eco-Kit Hose Nozzle. NRG offers a kit that includes a quality hose nozzle, a hose repair kit to prevent leaks, and gauges you can put in the ground to measure rainfall and estimate how much water your yard or plants need.
Rainwater harvesting devices
If you want to take it to the next level, you can also get systems that will catch the rainwater from your roof or on the ground each time it rains to use on your plants and your yard. Handy folks can definitely make one on their own, but these pre-made systems are great for everyone:
- RTS Flat Back 50 Gallon Rain Barrel. This rain barrel can be placed underneath your roof drains to collect rainwater. It has a convenient spigot at the bottom you can use to dispense the rainwater you’ve captured.
- Algreen 50 Gallon Rain Barrel. You can use this rain barrel underneath a drain or as a standalone barrel, plus it also doubles as an attractive planter and comes in many colors.
- Save the Rain Diverter. This galvanized steel device can attach to your roof’s downspout to easily divert water into a barrel or other container.
Perhaps an even more ambitious project is to build a rain garden. Rain gardens are able to soak up and absorb rainwater and runoff from impervious materials like cement and pavement. Check out these guides if you’re interested in building your own rain garden:
- How to Build a Rain Garden to Filter Run-Off by This Old House
- How to Build a Rain Garden by Gardener’s Supply Company
- 6 Easy Steps to Make a Rain Garden by Better Homes and Gardens
Apps and websites for water conservation
Where would we be without our apps? Alongside incredible innovations in the world of conservation, so many apps and useful website have popped up that can help us track our water usage, be more mindful about how we use water, and use intelligent tech to assist with conservation. Check out these apps and websites:
- Water Calculator. A free online quiz that lets you find out your daily indoor, outdoor, and virtual water consumption.
- Rain Harvest. An app that helps you calculate how much water you could catch from your roof during rainfall. You’d be surprised how much you can get from even a short storm!
- Dropcountr. With this app you can track your water usage, detect leaks, ask questions about water use, compare use over time, and access special rebates and offers to upgrade to water-conserving devices.
- Shower Watch. An app that helps you track how much water you use in the shower, time your showers, and compare your results over time. You can even bring waterproof models of the Apple Watch in the shower with you to keep track!
- Water Footprint. This app lets you track your water footprint by calculating the amount of water used to produce all of the various food items you eat each day.
- Virtual Water. Another app that shows you how much water is necessary to produce common food and drink items.
- Water1der. This app from the Groundwater Foundation is a trivia game that helps you gain groundwater knowledge. It’s a great supplement for environmental educators.
- H2O Tracker. A water conservation game and app that lets you track your own water consumption to earn points. You can also report water waste violations to your city through the app.
- Leaky Faucet Drip Calculator. This app lets you calculate how much water is being wasted by your leaky faucet. All you do is tap at the same rate as the water is dripping five times and you’ll get your results.
- Water Use Calculator App. From the National Groundwater Association, this app lets you calculate the amount of water you and your family use each day.
- Water Timer. Use this app to time your showers and see how much water you used plus how much money you spent showering. You can also compare and compete with your friends.
- DRiY. Created by Ark Labs, DRiY is an app and device for your home that uses AI to detect major leaks and unusual surges in water by learning how you consume water in your home. Since it tracks your water use, you can also get reports to help you learn how you use water and how to cut back.
- Fake A Shower. This one’s a little silly, but if you’re someone who turns on a faucet so others can’t hear you in the bathroom it could be useful! The app makes fake shower noises and even tells you how much water you’ve saved by not turning on the faucet.
Now that you’re equipped with our best tips, tricks, and gadgets for conserving water, it’s time to get out there and do it! Conserving water is not only an important cause to take up for the sake of our environment, but it’s also a great way to make a small yet crucial impact on the world around you every single day.
Here at Knoji, we’re all about helping you find ways to improve the world around you while saving money at the same time. Be sure to visit again soon for more useful articles like this, and take a minute to check out our homepage where we’ve answered thousands of questions on how to save at your favorite retailers.