PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – Utah has seen a record-setting dry summer, with most – if not all – of the state under extreme or exceptional drought conditions throughout the warmer months. The lack of precipitation and limited reservoir supply meant many were looking for ways to cut back on their water use. With dry conditions still present, and the threat of climate change coming faster and more intensely, you may be looking for more ways to reduce your water usage.
Every day, we use water. It’s virtually inevitable. We use it to hydrate, clean, cool off, tend to our lawns and gardens. With that, we have all been reminded of ways to conserve water, like letting our lawns go yellow, or even brown, and taking shorter showers. Some have even taken to change how often they flush the toilet.
But it may be worth taking another look at the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle. Especially that first one according to Ben Abbott, Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Ecology with the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences at Brigham Young University.
Take, for example, the shirt you are wearing right now. Is it really soiled and in need of a cleaning, or could you wear it once or twice more before you wash it? Or the cup you’re drinking from – could you use it for another day or two?
Rewearing your outfit or reusing your dishes just once could cut your water use in half, Abbott explains. Cutting back and doing one less load of laundry than normal could save up to 30 gallons of water, depending on your washer. When it comes to your dishes, you may also want to skip rinsing them in the sink – most dishwashers have the capability to get your dishes clean.
And when you do run your dishwasher or a load of laundry in the washing machine, Abbott says your machine may already be saving you water. Many dishwashers and washing machines are energy-efficient, conserving water and cutting your electric bill. Not sure how efficient your machines are? Most come with ratings based on their water usage.
In addition to saving water, cutting back on washes can help preserve your items. As Abbott explains, frequently washing your clothing can wear them out. Fewer washes – and smarter washing, like using the cold water cycle – can help your clothing last longer. The reason we washing our clothing so frequently is largely cultural, Abbott remarks, adding that in most cases, your clothes will smell “totally fine” and you can wear your outfit again.
Cutting back on running your dishwasher and washing machines are just some of the ways you can save water at home. Abbott says your water softener can also be to blame. In a day, your water softener can use 40 to 50 gallons of water. He recommends dialing back on the frequency on your water softener. For his family, Abbott says they’ve done the same and found they are “totally happy without it.”
Outside your home, of course, Abbott says watering your lawn is one of the biggest wastes of water. Utah Governor Spencer Cox shared the same sentiment earlier this summer. According to Abbott, roughly 15% of Utah’s water is used outside of the home – the other roughly 85% is for the state’s agriculture. Letting your lawn go yellow, or even brown, can help conserve water.
For more tips on how to save water, click here.