Dealing with Drought: Water Conservation

6 tips to conserve water

As a SoCal resident, I am all too familiar with how bad the drought is in our state. Everyday, it seems that I hear a story on NPR (KPCC local) about the situation and the consequences to farmers, consumers, and the economy. Long before this drought has hit an all-time high, I have been practicing water conservation techniques in my home. And yes, I preach to my kids. Actually, if Big B wants to push my button, he’ll say something like “I’ll leave the water on and turn on all the lights and not recycle.” Yup, my kid knows how to rile me up.

There’s really no magic trick to water conservation, but there are many ways to go about it.

Tips for Water Conservation

Turn off water when not in use. One way I conserve water is simply shutting it of when not in use. I know, revolutionary, right? Actually, it’s a lot harder for some than others. For some, keeping the water running while washing their hands or brushing their teeth is a habit. It was my habit too until I made a conscious effort to break it. I had to remind myself to turn off the water after I got my hands or toothbrush wet in preparation of washing or brushing. I kept the water off while I washed or brushed, and then turned the water back on again to rinse. It’s also something that I have to teach the kids to do. Proper hand washing takes 20+ seconds and proper brushing is two minutes. That’s a lot of time to have water running just to go directly down the drain.

Use a timer to help you take shorter showers. We used to have a timer in the shower, it was one of those three minute hourglass timers. That was very helpful in letting me visualize just how long I had left to shower. I know that showers won’t always be three minutes, since some days you need longer to get all the dirt and grime off. However, whether in hourglass form, or a digital stopwatch, or another form of keeping time, having something to remind you of the length of your shower may help you reduce just how long you stay in the shower and use water.


Turn off water if you plan on being away from the home for a few days. If you plan on going on vacation, turn the water supply to the washer off. You never know when something might happen that will accidentally cause the water to turn on and flood your home. It will not only cause damage to your flooring and belongings, but it will increase your water bill as well.

Install water conserving tools and appliances. Every little bit of effort counts. High-efficiency washers, high-efficiency showerheads, and faucet aerators all help in minimizing water use. High-efficiency showerheads and aerators help to create a full outflow of water but only use minimal water. These are relatively cheap and quick fixes that you can buy at the local hardware store. As for an he machine, well, it’s not so cheap. The investment is certainly worth it, speaking from personal experience. It not only reduces water usage, but helps minimize the water bill.

Collect rain water and shower water. Water from rain has many uses such as for watering plants or cleaning cars. Alternatively, if it doesn’t rain as much where you live, like here in SoCal, you can collect shower water. Most people don’t jump in the shower as soon as they turn on the water. They usually wait until the water is the right temperature for them. Why not collect the cold water in a bucket and use it around the house? That water came from the same source as the one you would use to wash the dishes or clean anyway. It is totally usable.

watering flowers with rain water

Recycle gray water. More and more people are using gray water to water their plants. What is gray water? It’s basically used water from bathroom sinks, showers, and washing machines. People have found ways to reclaim water that might otherwise go to the sewer and turn it into a usable form. Before rigging your house to use gray water, check with your city first. There are permits and all types of legal stuff to go through. Do your research. Find out if this is a possible option for your home and the best way to go about it.

There are many other ways for water conservation. What are some of your tips to minimize water usage?

Images taken from Microsoft Clipart.


  1. Lucie says:

    Well, when my parents were teaching how to brush my teeth, they also taught me to fill up a cup for rinsing instead of keeping the water running. It was a simple plastic cup which you could get at any drugstore in the dental care section. Every member of our family had a one, each in a different colour. When I moved to Canada I could find anything in a drugstore but the cup. So my parents had to send me one from Europe. The empty cup is also great for storing your toothpaste and toothbrush.

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