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Natural Awakenings

Ablution Solution: Water-Saving Bathroom Tips

Sep 28, 2011 10:17AM

There’s a regular waterworks in modern bathrooms— sinks, commode, tub, shower—maybe even a bidet. All are necessary sanitation fixtures, but need to be used properly to avoid wasting precious water and processing extra waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirms that bathroom activities account for more than half of indoor water use.

► First, find and fix any possible plumbing leaks from pipes, faucets, flappers, valves and drains that can run up the water bill, even when no one is home. Then consider replacing aerators on faucets to reduce water flow, but not pressure, for a tiny cost with big returns. An EPA WaterSense label indicates a wise choice.

► Toilets use 30 percent of bathroom water, so make sure household utility bills aren’t paying the high cost of an old-fashioned (1990s or older) 3.5- to 7-gallons-per-flush type; modern fixtures use about a gallon-and-a-half. Dual-flush toilets (for number one and number two) save even more. Universal conversion kits are affordably priced.

► Chuck the commode altogether and switch to a composting toilet. It may seem radical and expensive, but will also use less water and even process the waste onsite (more details at

► A low-flow showerhead makes a big difference. Start with a test: Fill up a gallon bucket at full pressure; if it takes more than 20 seconds, it’s a low-flow device. Because nobody wants to walk into a cold shower, most people tend to wastefully let the water run a bit first. Fortunately, gadgets such as Showerstart are available that cut any water flow to a trickle as soon as it gets hot, which saves water and also signals that the water has warmed up.

► The EPA estimates that a shower uses 10 to 25 gallons, compared to 70 gallons for a bath, so save the more water-intensive rub-a-dub-dub for a special occasion—perhaps with some bath salts, candles and music.

► Alter personal habits to shower more quickly and turn off the tap between wetting and rinsing; the same goes for hand washing, tooth brushing and shaving.

Visit Water Sense online at

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