7 Smart Ways to Save Water (and Money!)

These water-saving products make every drop count. Some can even trim your electric bill.

From a dual-flush toilet to a Wi-Fi-enabled sprinkler controller, these products can help reduce your home's water use inside and out. Image: Orbital Systems AB/High Sierra Showerheads/Niagara Conservation/Skydrop

Even if you live in an area where water is plentiful, drought can still strike thanks to climate change. In some parts of the country, water conservation is the law, and you can get serious fines — or even have your water service terminated — if you use too much H2O.

To help keep your water usage low (and trim your utility bills in the process), we rounded up seven of the latest water-sipping products that make conserving a no-brainer.

1. A Maximum-Performance Toilet

Here’s the deal: Your home’s biggest indoor water hog is the toilet. Approximately 30% of a household’s yearly indoor water use is flushed down the loo.

Toilets that were manufactured before 1992 can use up to 6 gallons per flush (gpf), but a commode that’s earned the WaterSense label uses a mere 1.28 gpf. Installing one could reduce the amount of water used for flushing by up to 60%.  

Product pick: The Stealth Dual Flush by Niagara. Dual-flush toilets are high-efficiency commodes that save water by providing a separate flush for solid and liquid wastes. The Stealth uses less than a gallon for solids and a mere half-gallon for liquid waste —  almost double the efficiency required by WaterSense. You’ll save nearly 20,000 gallons of H2O and trim yearly water costs by $165.

Dual flush toilet

Image: Niagara Conservation

Retail price:
$350

Tip:  Your toilet is wasting water if its flapper doesn’t close properly. To fix, replace the flapper.

Watch the video to learn more about the Stealth Dual Flush.



2. A Sprinkler Controller that Thinks for You

Here’s the deal: Up to 50% of our outdoor water use is squandered by overwatering. An irrigation controller helps stop pouring this precious resource down the drain.

The EPA suggests homeowners use an automated, programmable controller set to a watering schedule based on information provided by their local utility. Controllers with Wi-Fi connections go one step further by automatically adjusting watering schedules based on current weather conditions.

Product pick: The Skydrop Sprinkler Controller. Connected to the Internet, the Skydrop creates a custom watering schedule for your lawn based on up-to-date, hyper-local weather data. The manufacturer says homeowners can save up to 75,000 gallons of water per year, based on a 15,000-square-foot yard that’s watered four days per week, 12 months per year.

Skydrop controller

Image: Skydrop

Retail price:
$299, but due to high demand there’s a wait list.

Tip: Avoid watering your lawn on windy days when the water blows away.

You can watch the video to learn more about this device.



3. A Shower Head with Real Power

Here’s the deal: We love hot showers so much that they account for 12% of our indoor water use. While most standard shower heads provide 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), low-flow shower heads that have earned the WaterSense label use 2.0 gpm or less. Making the switch could save your household around 3,000 gallons of water per year while reducing demand on your home’s hot water heater.

However, low-flows have a problem. They provide users with wimpy showers, according to Consumer Reports. They also plug up easily because the little nozzle holes where the water sprays out are up to 40% smaller than standard shower head nozzles. 

Product pick: The High Sierra Showerhead is a 1.5 gpm low-flow solution that uses a patented single nozzle to create a powerful shower. Users say it rinses soapy long hair just like a 2.5 gpm shower head.

A shower head that uses 2.0 gpm can save homeowners $70 on water costs and up to 370 kilowatt hours of electricity per year (enough to power a house for 13 days!) The High Sierra raises the ante, claiming to save about 25% more on water and electricity annually.

High Sierra shower head

Image: High Sierra Showerheads

Retail price:
$35.95

Tip: You can save up to 150 gallons of water each month by shortening your shower by one to two minutes.

This news segment explains why one California inn installed these low-flow shower heads. 



4. The Shower of the Future

Here’s the deal: Shower systems that recycle greywater can slash the amount of H2O and even electricity wasted while taking a hot shower.

Product pick: Instead of allowing water to go down the drain, the OrbSys Shower uses a closed-loop, recirculating system to capture and recycle used shower water. The shower’s filtration system purifies the water, making it cleaner than when it was first piped in. Afterwards, the water is pumped back up to the shower head as needed.

Because the capture and cleaning process keeps the heated water from cooling, the manufacturer claims it can save up to 80% of the electricity used to heat a standard shower.

Orbital shower system

Image: Orbital Systems AB

Retail price:
Not yet available for purchase

Tip: A leaky shower head that drips 30 times per minute can waste up to 2.5 gallons of water per day.

To learn more about this futuristic shower, watch the video below.



5. An Ultra-Efficient Washing Machine

Here’s the deal: Clothes washers can suck up to 15% of a home’s total indoor water use. Since the average household knocks out 300 loads of laundry each year, a non-certified standard machine can consume over 9,000 gallons of water annually.

Product pick: The Kenmore 417.4112 is the top choice on the Energy Star Most Efficient 2014 qualified product list for clothes washers. This front-load washer uses 43% less water and 63% less power than non-certified machines.

That means it’ll reduce your annual water use to about 5,000 gallons per year, while using less electricity. Energy Star says the Kenmore 417.4112 also has the lowest annual ($74 to $79) and lowest lifetime ($814 to $866) operating costs for electric and water.

Retail price: $899
 
Tip: You can find leaks by monitoring your water bill. Just keep your eyes peeled for spikes in water use.

6. The Washing Machine of the Future

Here’s the deal: Washing one load of dirty clothing can guzzle up to 23 gallons of water. If your machine is more than 10 years old, it can consume up to 40 gallons per load.

Product pick: The Xeros washing machine uses up to 80% less water. How? It employs over 1 million tiny nylon polymer beads to scrub clothes clean. The beads absorb stains off dirty clothing using humidity, lower heating temperatures, and half the amount of detergent used by standard washers. Even better, the beads can be reused hundreds of times.

Retail price: Industrial washers are currently in use; Xeros hopes to release a competitively priced consumer version in two years.

Tip: Using cold water to clean your dark laundry helps retain fabric color while saving water and electricity.

You can see the Xeros Washing Machine in action in the video below.



7. A Powerful Outdoor Washer

Here’s the deal: A traditional pressure washer or hose with sprayer uses up to 18 gallons of water per minute. The puddles they leave behind can create urban-runoff that contributes to flooding and water pollution. Also, when done incorrectly, power-washing can cause property damage.

Product pick: The Watermiser Waterbroom is a powerful cleaning machine that uses a combination of water and air to clean pavers, epoxy floors, driveways, patios, and pool decks, using as little as 2 gallons of water per minute. Because the Waterbroom doesn’t contribute to urban-runoff, it’s compliant with all state storm water waste laws and EPA regulations.

Waterbroom

Image: Watermiser Waterbroom

Retail price:
Starts at $299

Tip: Fertilizers can increase the amount of water your landscape consumes so use the minimum amount needed.

This video will show you how to grow your own eco-lawn.