Many regions in the U.S., including areas of California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, are experiencing severe drought conditions, and residents and officials in those states are looking for ways to save water. Outdoor water use is already being restricted for millions of residents in those areas, and dwindling water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, both major sources of water in the U.S. West and Southwest.
Water is a necessity, and whether or not you live in an area where the water supply is under stress, every drop counts. Making simple changes at home can quickly add up to big water savings, both in the short and long-term. That can benefit the planet and your water bill. Saving water at home starts with your appliances.
While you may be tempted to not run your appliances at all while trying to save energy and water, using your modern appliances is the more efficient option and will actually use less water than hand-washing dishes or clothes.
Follow these four easy tips to save water when you’re using your dishwasher, clothes washer and refrigerator:
1. Do full loads of laundry and dishes: If you have to do a wash or dishes and the clothes washer or dishwasher aren’t full, change the appliance’s settings to the appropriate-sized cycle to reduce the amount of water used. Load your dishwasher properly to maximize space.
2. Avoid pre-rinsing dishes: Pre-rinsing dishes can use up to 20 gallons of water before your dishwasher is even used, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Compare that to a new ENERGY STAR® dishwasher, which only uses about five gallons of water per cycle. Scrape any food scraps left on plates into the garbage or food waste disposer, and put the dish straight into the dishwasher without rinsing. The dishwasher will do the rest of the work. Modern dishwashers use sensors and powerful jets to direct water where it needs to go.
3. Use your refrigerator to defrost frozen foods overnight: This eliminates the need to use water to defrost frozen food. On average, running the water in your kitchen sink uses 2.2 gallons a minute, according to the EPA.
4. Look for water-saving appliances: Is it time to replace your clothes washer or dishwasher? New ENERGY STAR models of clothes washers and dishwashers use significantly less water than older models. ENERGY STAR clothes washers use approximately 33% less water than non-ENERGY STAR models, and an ENERGY STAR dishwasher can save an average of more than 3,800 gallons of water over its lifespan.