There are many reasons you should be conserving water at home, the main two being that it will save you a lot of money in the long run and that using too much water is wasteful and harmful to the planet. However, all of us use copious amounts of water and it is sometimes a little tricky to see where we can cut back. Luckily, we’ve got a few sneaky tips on how to save water, even in the busiest of homes!
This may seem a little strange, but trust us, it’s a perfect way to conserve water and one that once you’re in the habit, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using this sneaky little trick before! Think of all the water you waste at home from tasks such as: rinsing vegetables, rinsing utensils, boiling food (such as eggs and certain vegetables). If you’ve not used a harsh cleaning solution or chemical product, the chances are that you’re throwing away perfectly decent water.
Although you may not want to use this ‘dirty water’, it can be used for so many other things, such as: watering plants and washing the yard. Be creative when using up leftover water, just ensure that it only contains unharmful elements, i.e you’ve not used any harmful products (such as bleach) with it.
Whilst some people have no problem in collecting rainwater to drink and cook with (if you do this, you should first check that the area you live in has safe to drink rainwater. Regardless, you should do your research on how to properly filter and sterilize the rainwater first anyway), many haven’t got the time, nor do they really want to do this method of recycling rainwater. Instead, conserve rainwater to put in birdbaths, wash gardening tools, water the plants, and even flush the toilet!
If you have a habit of turning on the tap and leaving it whilst you do something else, you’re wasting a huge amount of water. Try to only turn on the tap when you actually need water. This means when you’re brushing your teeth, washing your hands, washing the dishes, and more. Just don’t leave the tap running!
Consider washing yourself or other items in a bucket or tub. This will conserve so much water! You can also fill up the wash basin for the same results.
If you love icy cold water to drink, you probably have to leave the tap running for a number of minutes before it’s at the right temperature for you. Instead of doing this, keep a jug, glass or other kind of container in the fridge especially for water. Top it up frequently and you’ll always have a refreshing drink at hand, stopping you from wasting a load of water.
A leak in your home may not seem like a huge deal if it is only small, however, there are so many different reasons as to why you should have it fixed as soon as possible. A small leak will save bucket loads of water in the long run, plus, leaving a leak only runs the risk of future larger problems (such as an even bigger leak, or even worse, mold and water damage in your house). Get leaks fixed quickly to avoid spending even more money on repairs and wasted water further down the line!
We all love to spend a long time washing the stresses of the day away, however, try to keep extremely lengthy showers to a minimum as the amount of water you’re using will build up, as will the price of your water heating bill. For everyday showers, keep them quick and only use up the water you need.
Do you ever try and flush away products down the toilet? Earbuds, sanitary products, excessive tissue paper, cigarette butts and more? If the answer is yes, you need to stop. Flushing away anything other than natural waste increases your water usage. This is because the water needed to clear away the excess junk increases. Instead, have a waste paper basket in your bathroom where cotton pads and buds, extra tissue paper and more can be thrown into instead. This will also reduce the risk of pipes becoming blocked, so it’s an all-round great solution.
Garbage disposals are great but when they are used often, they use up copious amounts of water. Rather than throw everything in the garbage disposal, invest in a compost bin. It will save you money and is a fantastic solution for the earth too.
We understand that everyone wants to have a sparkly and well looked after car. However, there comes a time when it becomes too much. Only give your car a good clean when it really needs some TLC. Better still, take your car to be washed professionally and ask them how they cut back and reuse water for the best environmentally friendly option. If you simply have to wash your car every weekend, use a bucket instead of opting for a hosepipe.
When it’s time to wash a pile of clothes, you should always make sure your load is perfect. This means no overfilling or underfilling your machine! Putting a huge load of clothes into your washing machine will mean that clothes are not washed properly, meaning you will have to wash them again – what a waste of water!
The same goes for loads that are extremely small, yes, your clothes will get washed well but by repeatedly putting in small loads of clothes, you’re wasting a lot of water. Wait until you have a reasonably sized pile of clothes before banging them into the wash. The same applies to colors, fabrics, delicates, etc. Make sure you’re putting the correct clothes together, so that you don’t have to waste water rewashing and/or correcting mistakes.
Sometimes we can all forget to take meat out of the freezer for dinner, resulting in us trying to defrost it quickly and conveniently by placing it in a bowl of water. This is great for a quick fix but if you are stuck in this habit, think of how much water you’re using up unnecessarily every day! Plan ahead and defrost meat and other food overnight by placing it in a covered dish in the refrigerator. It conserves water this way and is actually arguably healthier.
If you have an old-fashioned home, the chances are you have certain old-fashioned appliances that are not energy efficient. The toilet, washing machine and dishwasher are three household appliances that use up a considerable amount of water. Check to see if there are any other models that are more modern and could save you using a lot of water.
Pop a lid on top of your cooking pans to trap water and create steam. Doing this will speed up cooking time (cutting back on gas and/or electricity) and means you will conserve much more in the pan than you would sans lid.
The ways listed above only scratch the surface of ways for you to save water in your household. There are multiple ways you can conserve water and cut back on bills in your own home. It all depends on how you already use water and to what extent you want to cut back. However you decide, if you start to make changes now, water saving habits will soon become second nature to you and will result in heaps of positive results for you and your family in the future.
What is Hard Water?
You’ve likely heard the term tossed around in your lifetime, but how many of us have the slightest clue what “hard water” really is or what kind of effect it has on us or are homes? We’re envisioning only a small number of hands currently raised in the audience, which means that this is a great chance to address this nuisance of society (When we say society, we don’t just mean modern society. Even the Romans dealt with hard water; they performed regular maintenance on Roman aqueducts to remove the accumulating deposits that hindered water flow).
Hard water is a naturally occurring geological process characterized by the presence of the materials calcium and magnesium in our water. Hard water begins as rainwater, becomes groundwater, then filters through limestone, soil, lakes, and rivers. Along the way, the water picks up like calcium, magnesium, iron, and other elements.
The majority of American households experience some level of hard water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is estimated that more than 89% of the water used by consumers in the US can be classified at some level of “hard” water.*
Effects on Humans
There have been a plethora of studies performed over the years on the effects of hard water. As one would expect, there are differing opinions on those effects. The consensus is as follows: There are no serious harmful effects of consuming or interacting with hard water. But the word “serious” is interesting in that sentence. When it comes to hard water, multiple people will define “serious” quite differently.
Skin – The minerals in hard water have a chemical reaction with soap, which makes it more difficult for soap and shampoo to dissolve. The result is soap scum, a nightmare not just for showers, but also skin. That scummy residue blocks pores, choking off the skin’s natural moisture and oils. Irritation follows, and with it, itchy, dry, and flaky skin. And, if individuals already have pre-existing skin problems like psoriasis or eczema, research suggests that they’ll be further irritated by hard water.
Hair – In its quest to aggravate you as much as possible, hard water even wants a piece of your lovely hair. Our hair follicles consist of a system of scales that run down the length of each strand. In healthy hair, the scales are smooth and cohesive. With hard water, the minerals interact with shampoo and lift the scales, leading to:
Rougher, tangled hair
Hair that is more difficult to wash
Eczema of the scalp in some cases
Hard Water’s Effects on Equipment and Plumbing
Hardwater is an equal opportunity nuisance, and its effects go beyond wrecking your hair and making your skin feel like sandpaper. Anything in your home that deals with water can turn into a scummy, scaly victim.
As you know, the minerals in hard water interact chemically with soap, the result of which is “scale” or calcium deposits. Scale is the chalky, off-white substance that remains after the water in your shower has evaporated. You’ll notice the appearance of rampant scale and soap scum more often than you should, meaning that you’ll find yourself in your bathroom or kitchen frequently throwing elbow grease at the problem.
Scale makes messy nightmares of bathtubs, showers, tiles, and fixtures. In the kitchen, hard water deposits produce a spotty and dingy look that appears on drinking glasses, pots, pans, dishes, and silverware. And soap isn’t always necessary to see the effects of hard water. Combine a runny toilet or a dripping faucet with hard water and you’re in for some unsightly rust stains.
The water-related technology in your home also pays the price. Hard water wears out and reduces the efficiency of dishwashers, icemakers, washing machines, and water heaters. And through the gradual buildup of mineral sediments, less water flows through these machines. Professionals estimate that these machines wear out 30% faster, prompting replacement before necessary.
But what about the piping running water into those machines? Your homes pipes are one of the hardest hit aspects of hard water. Scale builds up inside the pipes over time, eventually choking off the flow of water, which opens the door to a host of serious and expensive plumbing issues.
Laundry – Washing clothes in hard water is less than optimal. It’s difficult for soap and clothing to properly interact due to the added minerals in the water. Hard water decreases detergent’s lathering ability and makes it less likely that detergent will properly wash away. As a result, residue accumulates on clothing the same way soap scum accumulates on skin and shower surfaces. Freshness, softness, fragrance are all sacrificed in addition to appearance: washing over time results in a gray/yellowish tint that robs clothes of brightness. And it’s even worse for towels.
How Can You Fix Hard Water?
The first step is to address how “hard” the water is, which you can discover by purchasing one of the DIY kits on the market. If you discover that the problem is substantial, look into the various filtration systems available to consumers.
For drinking and cooking purposes, consider installing an ion exchange filter, either a pitcher or faucet model (experts recommend that you look for a model that allows you to switch between filtered and nonfiltered water. Ion filtered water doesn’t work as well for plant watering, for example, because of the high sodium content).
When it comes to laundry, you can purchase non-precipitating water condition, which arrests the minerals in hard water, prevents the minerals from interacting with soap and clothing, and allows detergent to function properly.
For your entire home, there are several methodologies from which to choose. The technology behind how these options work can get a little sticky, so we’ll give you a brief overview which you can use as a springboard into conducting your own research.
The main options are salt-based water softeners, salt-free softeners, and filters.
Also referred to as ion-exchange softener
Uses salt/sodium to change the chemistry of the calcium/magnesium in the water, thus removing changing the elements
Leverages a filtration tank system that cleans water before releasing into your home
Less ideal for drinking/cooking water and watering plants
Salt-based models are better at providing the real, slick feeling of natural water.
Salt-free Water Softener
With no salt present, calcium and magnesium are not removed or washed out.
Instead, the water is conditioned so that these elements lose their ability to bind to things like soaps and surfaces
The unwanted elements are still present, so water is not actually “softened”
Leverages an actual filter that allows water molecules through but blocks others, including calcium and magnesium
Softens water, removes any funny tastes/smells
Wastes significant amount of water in the process, making it very inefficient for some homeowners
These methods can also be used on a smaller scale on specific faucets and incoming pipes. Finally, as you research the best method for you, consider cost, maintenance, and installation.
Hard water creates serious problems for millions of Americans. Luckily, there are ways to curtail its effects, reducing it from a major problem to a minor inconvenience. If you’re experiencing some of the harmful effects of hard water and it’s ruining items in your home like your pipes, faucets, and water heater, call the Arco team. Whether replacing damaged parts or giving you the best advice to help you work through your problem, we’ve got your back.