Drip. Drip. Drip. Every drop counts. Many people consider a leaky faucet a mere annoyance but if every household in America and Canada had a faucet that dripped once each second, 928 million gallons of water a day would leak away, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). That’s a lot, considering the AWWA predicts the average household uses approximately 146,000 gallons of water each year, but water is wasted in more ways than through a leaky faucet. 

We've compiled a list of helpful  hints and tips for conserving water:

For those who insist on rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, wash them in a basin of cold water rather than under a running faucet of hot water. Be vigilant about turning off the water when shaving or brushing your teeth. Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full.

Water can also be wasted because of a lack of maintenance. Check all the faucets, hoses and appliances that use water in your house for leaks and drips. You would be surprised at how much water you can conserve by checking your plumbing fixtures.

Finally, examine your toilets — you may be flushing your money down the toilet and not even know it. They account for almost 30 percent of all indoor water use, and most of the time they are the biggest culprits of wasting water. For example, a leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water a day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Just by listening you can tell if your toilet is running, but to check the water level, you’ll have to open the toilet tank.

If you are willing to spend the money on a new toilet it will actually save you money each month on water and wastewater bills. A low-flow toilet requires only 1.6 gallons of water per flush and an ultra-low-flow toilets use just 1.28 gallons per flush. Compare both to toilets made before 1994 that use 3.5 to 7 gallons for each flush. By replacing your toilet, you could save 7,900 to 21,700 gallons of water a year!

Not sure if you have a leak? Follow this advice from service professionals:

First, check your toilet for silent leaks by putting several drops of dark food coloring into your toilet tank. If the dye appears in the bowl, you need to replace the valve seal ball or flapper at the bottom of the tank or adjust or replace the fill valve.

Experts recommend replacing flappers and fill valves every couple of years to prevent a running toilet. A new flapper will seal properly, and a new fill valve will prevent overfilling or filling too slowly.

Also, lift the tank lid to fix the problem if water continues to flow after flushing – don’t just jiggle the handle. Adjust the chain if the flush valve flapper is hung up and not sitting down properly. If that doesn’t work, adjust the float ball so it doesn’t go down as far.

Last, it is not advisable to use chlorine tablets or any other chemical cleaner in the toilet tank. Chemicals corrode the metals and destroy the rubber seals. They could also kill the active bacteria that keep the septic tank working properly. 

Home repair stores carry these parts. For those who aren’t do-it-yourselfers, contact a qualified plumber to diagnose and fix the problem.

ADDITIONAL WATER CONSERVATION TIPS FOR INDOORS:

  • Fix leaky toilets and fixtures as soon as they are detected
  • Take quick showers rather than full-tub baths
  • Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face
  • Stopper the sink when rinsing fruits and vegetables
  • Run your dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads
  • Use proper water level settings for laundry
  • Install on demand hot water dispenser
  • Install low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucet aerators
  • Consider a re-circulating hot water system 
  • When replacing washer, consider a front load unit (uses 30% less water and 50% less energy than a top load unit)
  • Flush toilets and use garbage disposals only when necessary
  • Check your water meter monthly for possible leaks
  • Use water remaining in drinking glasses to water plants
  • Perform maintenance on water heater annually

WATER CONSERVATION TIPS FOR OUTDOORS:

  • When washing cars, use a nozzle that turns off automatically
  • Use drought-tolerant plants in the garden
  • Know where your master water shut off valve is located and show everyone in the household 
  • Test the water shut off valve frequently to ensure it works
  • Position sprinklers so they are not spraying the house, sidewalks, street or driveway
  • Don’t water when it is windy
  • Maintain your sprinkler system as it suffers from normal wear and tear, which reduces the efficiency
  • Sweep rather than hose off sidewalks, patios, decks and driveways
  • Cover swimming pools when not in use to prevent evaporation
  • Mulch flower beds to keep soil cooler and reduce water loss
  • Turn off sprinkler systems during cool or rainy weather
  • Contact your water service district for a personalized irrigation schedule
  • Check pressure-regulating valve

Thanks to tax credits, making your home more energy efficient is no longer a hard on your pocketbook. Take advantage of this opportunity, and save money by improving your home’s plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems.

Consumers can apply the credit to the setting up of the following higher efficiency items:

  1. central air conditioners
  2. water heaters
  3. furnaces
  4. boilers
  5. air source heat pumps.

Visit www.irs.gov for more information on the Economic Stimulus Plan. For a full list of eligible products, go towww.energystar.gov.