Bathroom water use: How to really reduce it

Apr 1, 2012 at 4:29 a.m. ET

We're lucky to live in a country where we have access to clean water by simply turning on the tap. With that comes a huge responsibility, though. When conserving water, every little drop makes a difference. Here's how to reduce your water consumption.

Woman taking shower

According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, residential buildings are responsible for 21 percent of U. S. greenhouse gas emissions. If everyone were to reduce energy use and live more efficiently, we could dramatically reduce our collective carbon footprint. Looking for a place to start? Try your own bathroom, where simple energy-saving strategies can go a long way.

Switch your faucets


Low-flow fixtures and aerators can produce a flow of water that feels almost identical to an older faucet using only one-third of the water. If you can't afford to replace all your faucets with low-flow versions, start with those that get the heaviest use in your home.

For just $99, you can replace your high-use faucet with a gorgeous brushed-nickel faucet from Moen that's Watersense-certified to help conserve water.

Go with low-flow toilets


Believe it or not, Americans use approximately 4.8 billion gallons of water every day just flushing toilets. Switching to low-flow toilets can reduce the amount of water used by 70 percent each year — and they work just as well as the traditional variety, thanks to improved flush velocity and pressurized water.

Replacing your toilet doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg! Try this attractive low-flow toilet by Kohler for $286.

Shorten your shower

Shower head

Taking shorter showers is a no-brainer if you want to conserve water. But what about improving your technology? The new generation of low-flow showerheads can use as little as two gallons of water per minute, as opposed to older conventional showerheads that use up to eight gallons per minute. Low-flow showerheads using pressurized water and aeration can produce a pleasant flow of water that feels identical to older models, despite using only one-fourth the total water.

Save up to 2,300 gallons of water per year when you install an EPA-approved Watersense low-flow showerhead for just $14.

Turn off the tap


You've heard it before, but turning off the tap while you are brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your hands can save gallons of water each day. Be conscious about the water you are using, and conserving water will become second nature.

Install a low-flow aerator on your bathroom tap, and you'll be using less water even when the tap is running! Try this low-flow faucet aerator for just $3 at Amazon.

Fix dripping faucets and pipes

Toilet flapper

Household leaks waste an average of 10,000 gallons of water each year per family. That's enough to fill a backyard swimming pool! Not sure if you have a leak problem? One easy way to check for leaks is to pay attention to your winter water usage. If you are consuming more than 12,000 gallons per month, you probably have a leak issue. You can correct most leaks yourself with fixture replacement parts on toilet flappers, dripping faucets, showerheads and other leaking valves.

Is your toilet flapper leaking? Try this adjustable toilet flapper from EarthEasy and save 2.5 gallons of water per flush for just $5.

Quick Tip

Give your bathroom a high-efficiency makeover and you may save thousands of gallons of water each year. Calculate your savings at the Environmental Protection Agency.

More ways to save energy

Guide to buying eco-friendly appliances
4 Things you didn't know you could recycle
Water conservation: Get the facts

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