How To Save Water at Home

As the drought numbers are increasing here in Florida, and the Western US is going through the worst mega drought in 1200 years according to NBC News, it is more important than ever that we all learn how to save water wherever we can.

rain barrel

Here in North East Florida we're at a moderate drought level, and in our particular neighborhood we've had very little rain. While we're always utilizing rain water, the drought conditions means that we are stepping up our saving gray water efforts, and this means that we're filling up empty milk and orange juice jugs for the garden at The Land in addition to using grey water in our garden around The House.

We try to fill up at least a couple of gallons a day to use at The Land, whenever rain is hard to come by.

gallons with water
Gallons of grey water waiting to be used in the garden.

Outside at The House we have two 75 gallon rain barrels ready to collect rain water, and last summer we barely ever watered, because the rain barrels and the gray-water collection got us through in between the rains. During periods of drought, even the rain barrels run dry, and so we are always looking at deals on Craigslist for more rain barrels as our gardens are expanding.

wheel barrow with water

While we do not yet have a rain barrel at the land, we always set up the wheelbarrow and several buckets for water catchment, whenever rain is in the forecast. As long as we get to the water the next day and fill empty gallon jugs, we can save the water without getting mosquitoes.

saving water from wheelbarrow

We have always tried our best to conserve water, but last year's drought in Cape Town made us step up the water conservation at The House even more, which is when we drew inspiration from the Survival Gardener's grey water system to collect our own grey water. Thanks to our gray water collection and the use of our rain barrels our water bill do not go up in the summer, despite the fact that we have lots of plants to water around the house.

It is actually quite easy to save water, and while our kids balked at the idea of collecting grey water at first, it has now become a way of life, and on most days we do not even have to water because of it. We have been playing around with the idea of creating more of a grey water system with pipes, but for now we stay simple. We have a 3-part grey water collection system, which works well for us.

Our Grey Water Collection System:
  1. We keep an open jug in the bathrooms to collect cold water, whenever we wait for the hot water in the shower. This is then poured into an empty milk jug in the bathrooms.
  2. We have a stainless-steel pot with two good handles in one side of the sink, where we let the water run into, if we're doing simple tasks such as rinsing fruits, washing hands etc.
  3. When the pot is full, someone takes it out into the garden or the water is poured into gallons to be brought over to The Land. 
Here at the house we have three main garden areas: 
1) The front of the house
2) The side of the house, which is south facing
3) The back of the house, which faces west, and which is mostly shaded under a big tree canopy.

Most of our grey water is used by throwing the pot of water out over the side garden, which is on each side of the front steps. On the east side of the steps we have the banana trees, the papaya trees, the strawberries and the grape vines, and on the west side of the steps we have our vegetable garden, where we mainly grow tomatoes and peppers. Sure, our neighbors think we're crazy, but meanwhile we are living green and saving green at the same time.

How To Save Water at Home:
  • Use a grey water collection system or reroute your grey water to your garden.
  • Create a simple grey water collection system
  • Use rain barrels
  • Create a xeriscaping garden with drought-resistant plants and trees which require less water. 
  • Mulch your plants to keep the slow the evaporation rate
  • Make a gardening plan, so that plants in need of the most water are closer to your gray-water collection area.
  • When watering, water your plants thoroughly every three days to help them get a better root system. 
  • Minimize evaporation by watering early in the morning or late at night.
  • If using an automatic watering system for your garden, consider using a drip system instead of a sprinkler system.
  • If you do not have a garden in need of water, the gray water can be used to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Flush less. While it may sound crazy, each toilet flush uses 1.28 - 1.6 gallons, and in Cape Town, South Africa they swear by the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" concept.
  • Take shorter showers
  • Install water saving shower heads and facets.
  • Use energy star appliances - you could save up to 50 percent water just from switching your washing machine to an energy star machine.
  • Upgrade your toilet to a water sense toilet to save water each time you flush.
  • Only run your washing machine and dish washer, when these are full.
  • Make sure to fix water leaks around the house
  • Just generally think about your water usage

In addition to the above tips on ways to save water, you can also help the rest of the world by taking steps to save water. Recycling and buying second-hand clothes and other consumer goods are huge water savers, as it takes a lot of water to produce new products. According to recycling a pound of paper saves 3.5 gallons of water in addition to the water it takes to help a new tree grow.

If you are doubtful that you can save much water at home, I challenge you to leave a bucket or bowl underneath the faucet, next time you rinse berries or veggies, or even next time you wash your hands in the kitchen.

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You can read about how we found our rain barrels in this post, which also includes tips for finding your own affordable rain barrel


How do you save water? Do you have any tips on how we can save water?