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Take Shorter Showers, Save the World!

And fix that leaky faucet while you’re at it

It takes about 2,000 gallons of water a day to support a standard American lifestyle. That includes projects both mega (running the power grid) and micro (rinsing the conditioner out of your hair), and is double what folks elsewhere on the planet use. So how to reduce an out-of-control H2O habit? With ideas from the smarties at National Geographic.


Think of a bath as an occasional luxury rather than a daily habit since it takes a whopping 70 gallons of water to fill that porcelain soaker. The average water-efficient showerhead uses 2.5 gallons a minute (although older ones use 5 to 7 gpm).


If you throw a few pairs of jeans in your washing machine and forget to adjust the water-level setting from “large” to “small,” you’re wasting water. Since doing the laundry accounts for almost 22 percent of indoor home water use, always set your machine to the proper load size. Better yet, invest in a washing machine that automatically senses the size of the load and adjusts the water level accordingly.


A low-flow showerhead can conserve 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower. Take a five-minute shower to double the savings.


Here’s a surprising stat: Dishwashers use 4 to 6 gallons of water per load, while hand-washing the same volume drinks up about 20 gallons. So stick the dinner plates, pots and pans in the dishwasher (but wait until there’s a full load before running it). Bonus: less wear-and-tear on your manicure!


That leaky faucet in your kitchen or bath isn’t just annoying—it’s a water-waster that squanders up to 140 gallons per week. Fix leaks immediately; check for more under your sinks.


If you still have a standard toilet in your home, go buy a brick. Such older toilets require a lot of water—3.5 gallons per flush versus 1.28 gallons for low-flow models. A brick in the tank forces some of the water to be displaced, which means you’ll use less. Better yet, invest in a new toilet.