You know you can save water by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, “letting it mellow” and taking care not to waste it while cooking and cleaning. But did you know this direct water use only makes up a small portion of all the water you use? There is way more water – also known as virtual water – in the food, goods and services you consume.
Read on to learn how to save water by changing how you use energy (be sure to check out our tips specifically for the laundry, bathroom and kitchen), and take our Water Footprint Calculator to find out how much water you use directly and indirectly each day.
- Conserve energy. It takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and move water, so if you use less water, you’ll use less energy, and that will lower your water footprint. It’s the win-win of water footprints!
- Most people in the US get their electricity from power companies that use hydroelectric and thermoelectric power (from coal, natural gas, nuclear fuels, etc.), both of which have large water footprints. The portion of a person’s water footprint attributed to power production in the US is, on average, 39 gallons per person per day.
- Learn more about the water in your energy.
- Make your home as energy efficient as possible to reduce the amount of electricity – and by extension water – it takes to run your household.
- Install on-site renewable electricity from solar panels (or wind turbines) if you can. Renewable energy is not only cleaner, but it uses less water, too!
- In the market for a new appliance? Choose an ENERGY STAR model. They perform like conventional appliances but use much less energy and water.
- Install energy-efficient LED and fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. This is an easy way to save energy and lower your water footprint.
- Install power strips and plug all of your electrical equipment into them. Turn off the power strips when the items aren’t in use and you’ll stop vampire loads from sucking up energy and increasing your water footprint.
- Save water (and energy!) with WaterSense low-flow products in your home and yard. These include everything from showerheads to sprinkler systems.
- Use hot water only when you really need to. After heating and cooling, water heating is the biggest energy user in the home. Water- and energy-efficient appliances conserve hot water in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry.
- Install solar hot water heaters if you can. You could significantly reduce the energy used to heat water in your home.
- Drive less and use less gasoline. You’ll also save water. It takes about 3/4 of a gallon of water to extract, refine and transport the gas used to drive one mile. The average person in the US drives 37 miles per day.
- Keep your vehicle properly maintained and your tires properly inflated. Your car will run more efficiently and use less fuel.
- Don’t let your engine idle. It wastes gasoline and therefore water.
- For your next vehicle, consider getting a fuel-efficient hybrid or even electric vehicle. It could help lower your water footprint because you’ll use less gasoline (or none at all!).
- Take public transportation or ride a bicycle whenever you can. You could significantly reduce the part of your water footprint attributed to transportation.