Photo: The three R's of water

(Credit: seandreilinger via Flickr)

It's time for a new version of the three Rs mantra: Reduce, Repair, Retrofit!

Reduce the water you use each day in your home. Bathing and showering account for about 35 per cent, while toilets are responsible for about 30 per cent. That adds up to 65 per cent of all residential indoor water use occurring in the bathroom.

  • By minimizing the duration of your showers you'll also reduce the amount of energy used to keep that water nice and hot.
  • Water your lawn in the evening and use a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. If a particular plant needs more water, give it what it needs but don't water the whole lawn. Half of the water used on lawns is lost to evaporation or run-off due to over-watering.
  • When you wash your car, fill a bucket and use a sponge before rinsing quickly with a hose. By adding a spring-loaded nozzle, you won't waste water when you aren't using the hose. In Vancouver, the local water authority estimates that as much as 400 litres of water is used to wash a car. That's beautiful drinking water washing down the street!

Repair all leaky faucets and toilets. A leak of one drop per second results in about 10,000 litres of water lost over a year — the equivalent of 70 baths.

Retrofit by adapting or replacing older water-using appliances and devices with newer ones that are more efficient:

  • Installing a low-flow showerhead costs as little as $20, and reduces water flows by half.
  • Replace your toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) model. Standard toilets in Canada use 18 litres of water per flush, while ULV toilets reduce the amount of water flushed to 12 litres.
  • Check out dual flush models that allow you to control the water required to flush. And see if your local water authority provides rebates for replacing your old toilets with water efficient models.

If you're thinking of purchasing or replacing a washing machine, buy a model with the Energy Star label. These washers use 35 to 50 per cent less water and half the energy per load than a regular washer, which saves money on water and energy bills.