By now, we all know water conservation is the right environmental choice. The less water you use, the less energy is needed to pump water from a central facility into your home. The less water you use, the more water is available for everyone.
This is especially important in some regions, where there are competing needs for water. Plus, using less water benefits the plants, animals, and fish that depend on fresh water.
But, water conservation is also good for your bank account. The simple math is that the less water you use, the less you are charged. And when you’re in retirement, saving money is critical to maintaining your quality of life.
Here’s how to save money during your retirement through smart water conservation choices.
Tip 1: Install Low-Flow Fixtures in the Kitchen and Bathroom
Using WaterSense labeled faucets or faucet accessories, like aerators, can reduce your water use — by as much as 30 percent or more!
But you won’t sacrifice quality. WaterSense labeled faucets are still high performing while being water efficient. If a product has the WaterSense label, that means it has gone through an independent certification process. It must demonstrate both water efficiency and an ample flow.
Tip 2: Invest in Low-Flow Toilets
In 1994, the federal government mandated that toilets could not use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Since many were using up to 7 gallons of water, this change was a tall order. As toilets became more conservative in water use, their performance plummeted.
In recent years, however, the redesigned low-flow toilet models are designed to work as well, or even better, than old toilets. In fact, some even use as little as 1.1 gallons, while still delivering high performance. Switching to a low-flow toilet can save thousands of gallons of water per year.
Tip 3: Choose Efficient Shower Heads
Five to 10 gallons of water are wasted in every unneeded shower minute. For some, the shower may be the hardest area to conserve water. After all, the warm water is so soothing it can be hard to step out of it before water begins to be wasted.
If you struggle to limit your shower time, you can actually install shower heads that alert you when your shower is taking too long. You can choose shower heads with features that light up after a certain amount of minutes, or that pause a shower at a certain point. You can also install low-flow shower heads or adapters that use less than 2.5 gallons per minute. Save thousands of gallons a year with a simple shower head switch.
Tip 4: Insulate Water Pipes
How many gallons are washing down the drains as you wait for your water to warm up? You’re almost literally washing money down the drain, along with the cold water, as your energy costs go up.
Check to see if your pipes are insulated (they likely aren’t). Buy some pre-slit, foam pipe insulation from a hardware store and snap it over the pipe. Use some duct tape on the seam. Be careful not to wrap too tightly.
This small move will help your water to heat up faster, saving you money (and time!).
Tip 5: Think Outside the Lawn
Everyone loves a lush, green lawn. But it takes plenty of water to make the lawn so lush and green. Consider a different landscape in your yard, looking for ways to add more xeriscaping instead of lawn. In addition, look into installing smart programmable sprinkler systems that won’t water your lawn when it’s raining.
These changes will not only help the Earth through water conservation and save you plenty of money in retirement, they’ll help you age in place as you remove the need for extensive yard work.
Tip 6: Consider a Green Roof
A green roof or living roof is partially or completely covered with plants. As a green roof absorbs storm water and supports plant life, it can make a difference in how your home impacts the environment by filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air.
A green roof can also be good for the wallet as it can reduce how much you spend on utilities each year. An extensive green roof supports native ground cover and requires little maintenance, while an intensive green roof supports trees, shrubs, and walkways. Extensive green roofs make sense for some homeowners, as they can last longer than conventional roofs, reduce energy costs, and absorb storm water.
If a green roof is too big of a transformation, you can use other rain catching systems like barrels that harvest rain water. You can use this water in your garden to save money.
Tip 7: Make Behavioral Changes
Some water conservation tips are as easy as being just a little bit more mindful of how you use water:
- Take shorter showers
- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher
- Don’t let the faucet run
- Don’t flush a tissue or piece of trash — throw it away instead
- Create a compost pile to reduce garbage disposal use
Tip 8: Monitor Your Use
No matter what changes you make to conserve water, begin monitoring your use. Pay attention to your water bill. Is there a sudden spike you can’t account for? Check your habits, and check for leaks in your pipes. In addition, you can check your water meter. Don’t use any water for an hour, and go back to check it again. If the number has changed, you have a leak. Find it and repair it to save water and money.
The good news is that even just one of the above tips will help to conserve water and save you money. When you combine several, you can make a big difference in your carbon footprint — and in your retirement savings.