From the type of showerhead and toilet in your bathroom to the irrigation system in your yard, there are many devices that can help to conserve water. You don't have to make a big investment to improve water conservation at home, and in fact, you'll save on bills, which is good news for both your bank balance and the planet's future.
Fixing leaky pipes is an important step in ratcheting down your home's energy budget, but there are also many alternative plumbing components that can help.
Sinks and Showers
To cut back on water use without spending much money, every sink aerator and showerhead can easily be replaced with a flow-reducing model.
In addition, consider a shower timer to encourage everyone in the house not to dawdle while they are showering. Most shower timers simply alert the user that it's time to rinse off, but there is a product called the Shower Manager that actually reduces the flow drastically to really get the point across when someone is taking an excessively long shower.
Flow reduction is also possible with toilets. Low-flow toilets, like the WaterSense labeled ones, can reduce water consumption by about 4000 gallons per year per person, while saving nearly $2000 on utility bills during the lifetime of the toilet, if your current toilet flushes at a rate of 3.5 gallons-per-flush.
There are also simple devices like the Toilet Tank Bank, which is nothing more than a water-filled bag used to displace part of the volume of water in the toilet tank so less water is used with each flush.
Household Plumbing Devices
Another approach is to modify the plumbing system to reduce water usage.
Hot Water Recirculation
A whole-house hot water recirculation pump eliminates the wait time, and wasted water, after turning on a faucet or shower until the water warms up. These products continuously circulate water from the hot water tank throughout the plumbing system so it's always warm when you turn on the tap.
A more involved plumbing project is to install a greywater diverter in the drain lines under your house so you can recycle your wastewater for irrigation purposes.
On the simpler side of things, you can invest in making a siphoning device to convert a bathtub full of dirty water into an irrigation source.
All household appliances that use water are also available in models designed to minimize water use.
When it comes to laundry machines, there are plenty of models out there that use as little as 13.5 to 17.5 gallons per load, versus the 40 gallons that was common a couple decades ago. You can find both top and front load washers in Energy Star rated, high efficiency designs.
As for dishwashers, look for those with an Energy Star label -- they will save around 1,600 gallons of water over the lifespan of the appliance, compared to older models made before 1994.
If you have a small household you might consider a dishwasher that can be divided into two compartments allowing you to do a half load at a time, rather than running a full load for a small quantity of dishes.
Lawn and Garden Products
Catching rainwater in a rain barrel is one of the most timeless water-saving devices, which allows you the pleasure of watering your lawn without worrying about how much water you're using.
There are also products that can help you to irrigate more efficiently. Soaker hoses are the simplest of these, though a drip irrigation system is an even more targeted way of getting just the right amount of water to the plants that need it, when they need it. Drip irrigation systems use between 20 to 50 percent less water when compared to traditional pop-up irrigation systems.
One problem with any automated irrigation system is they will come on unnecessarily during rainy weather if you're not there to shut them off. The easy solution is a rain sensor -- a tiny device that connects to the irrigation system and automatically turns it off if a sufficient amount of rain has fallen.
Another smart device for irrigation efficiency is a soil moisture sensor. These do more than just turn the system on or off like a rain sensor; they tell the irrigation controller exactly how long to stay on during each watering cycle so the plants get exactly the water they need and and not a drop more.
Waste Not, Want Not
Finally, don't forget to use common sense, like turning off the water while brushing teeth or washing dishes. The simplest habits can turn into the biggest savings.