Water conservation is something we talk about a lot in the summertime, but what about in winter? While we might not be watering our lawns or maintaining much of a garden, there are still ways to cut back on our water usage in the chilly months!
People use almost 70 gallons per day for everything from cooking and showering to flushing the toilet. And that’s just indoor water use. Throw in outdoor water use, and you balloon up to around 350 gallons per household. Yikes! Of course, we want to make water conservation part of our routines on a daily basis, but there are some water uses that are specific to this time of year.
Related Reading: 20 Ways to Conserve Water at Home
Some big water usages, like watering the lawn, aren’t part of our winter routines, and a big part of using less water in winter is about anticipating the cold weather’s effects on your home and on your pipes. With just a little bit of preparation, you can stop the main culprits when it comes to winter water use. On the next page, check out our six favorite tips for reducing water use in winter!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Sterlic
Winter Water Conservation
Of course, we should be trying to conserve water year-round, but here are some ways to specifically prepare for winter-time water wasters.
1. Drip your faucets.
Wait…how can dripping your faucets save water – doesn’t that use more water? Yes and no. When temperatures drop below freezing, leaving your faucets to drip when you’re asleep or not home will help prevent a pipe from bursting. You waste a whole lot more water from a leaky or gushing pipe than you do from taking this precaution!
Want to take the conservation a step further? Stick a large pot or a bucket under the faucet that you’re dripping. You can use that water to flush the toilet or water plants, so it won’t go to waste!
2. Winterize your pipes.
Preventing burst pipes and leaks are your best bets when it comes to conserving water in winter. On top of dripping your faucets, it’s a good idea to make sure outdoor pipes, like the ones running to your backyard spigot, are wrapped. This way, when temperatures drop below freezing, they stay warmer than the air and are less likley to develop leaks or burst.
3. Insulate hot water pipes.
Ever notice that it takes your shower longer to get hot when it’s freezing out? That’s because your pipes are colder. Hire a plumber to wrap your pipes in insulation, or head to your crawl space or basement to do it yourself. Not only does this help the hot water stay hot, but it helps protect these pipes from the cold, which can cause leaks.
4. Use a Shower Bucket.
Since it takes longer for your shower to heat up in winter, catch that cold water and use it to flush toilet or water plants. This is a trick that you can use year-round, but it’s especially helpful in winter when your shower runs cold for a bit longer.
5. Check for leaks after first thaw.
The changes in temperature between night and day during the winter cause pipes to expand and contract. This added stress means you’re more likely to develop a leak over the winter. Get a plumber to check your lines for leaks after your pipes take all of that abuse!
6. Make sure you know where the shut-off valve for your house is.
Despite our best intentions, sometimes a pipe will still burst in the winter. The faster you can cut off that water, the less goes to waste. Some cities have a shut-off valve at the street, which is ideal. If you can’t access your street valve, you’ll need to find the one for your house. This is most likely in the attic, the basement, or the crawl space. Ours was in the crawl space right at the front of the house. It looks like a regular spigot, but turning it off cuts off all of the water to your house. Perfect if you have a gusher and need to stop the water while you wait for a plumber to arrive. You can save hundreds of gallons this way!
What do you guys do to conserve water in the winter months? I’d love to hear more ideas in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by derekGavey