By Karina Mazhukhina | Apr 11, 2016

The average American uses nearly 100 gallons of water a day, for drinking, washing and more. Demand for water continues to grow with the population, and climate change means water sources are subject to droughts and other uncertainties. Each of us can take small steps which add up to big water savings over time.

  • Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth instead of letting the water run can save up to 200 gallons of water each month.
  • Showers generally use much less water than taking a bath, and being mindful to keep the shower short will add to the savings.
  • Dishwashers use water more efficiently than hand-washing. Make sure to wait until the dishwasher is full to run it, and where possible skip the pre-rinshing.
  • When you must wash dishes by hand, fill the sink and wash them all at once instead of washing them under running water.
  • Newer appliances and fixtures generally are more water-efficient. Think about updating old equipment (or ask your landlord) and quickly fix any leaky faucets.
    • Older toilets use up to four gallons of water per flush. By switching to a newer water-efficient toilet you use up to 80 percent less water. Did you know you could get paid for upgrading to a newer efficient toilet? Learn more
    • Older washing machines use up to 40 gallons of water per load. Upgrading to a newer model could cut that number by almost half.
    • Leaky toilets, indoor and outdoor faucets waste 11,000 gallons of water, according to Seattle Public Utilities. Plus, can cost you up to $175 a year on your utility bill. Finding and fixing leaks is a solution to both! 

The EPA has even more ways to reduce water use at home.

Fun fact: Rainwater harvesting can be used to water plants and lawns. Find out how it works. In parts of Seattle, the RainWise program provides rebates which will cover installation of a cistern or rain garden for your home.

The UW Sustainability mascot, Sqwatch, has a love of the environment so deep his heart is green (and he's clearly got a passion for purple and gold). As a sasquatch, Sqwatch is well versed in leaving no trace and making sure his impact on the environment is minimal. Even a bigfoot can have a small environmental footprint, and Sqwatch is here to help spread the knowledge to the UW community. We'll be letting you in on some of Sqwatch's Secrets regularly, providing easy tips to reduce your impact and leave a lighter footprint.
See a list of all of Sqwatch's Secrets here.