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(continued from previous page)

The cost of a leaky faucet

Additional tips for the bathroom:

  • If you aren't ready to replace your toilet, placing a low-cost insert (available at hardware stores) or a water-filled, weighted plastic bottle in the tank will reduce water usage by up to 20 percent.
  • Never use the toilet as a garbage -- flush only when necessary.
  • Installing a low-flow showerhead reduces water usage between 15 and 60 percent, especially if you limit your shower time to five minutes.
  • Stop the drip: A tap that leaks only one drop of water per second adds up to 10,000 litres of water lost over the course of a year -- equivalent to 70 baths! A toilet that continues to run after flushing wastes up to 200,000 litres per year.

In the laundry room
Approximately 20 percent of water usage is in the laundry room, so when it comes time to replace your washing machine, consider buying a front-loader with the Energy Star label. These energy-efficient models use 30 percent to 50 percent less water. To get the most of your water savings, run the machine only when you've got a full load.

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In the kitchen
Kitchen-related activities use only about 10 percent of a household's total water, but there are still simple ways to reduce the amount wasted.

  • Install a low-flow aerator on your tap, which can reduce water between 25 and 50 percent.
  • When buying a new dishwasher, look for a water-saving model and only run a full load.
  • Turn off the water when rinsing dishes or cleaning fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep your drinking water in the fridge so you don't have to run the tap to get cold water.

In the garden
In the summertime, your garden is the biggest user of water, says Hilkene. In fact, many municipalities see between a 100 percent and 600 percent increase in average water usage. This puts a tremendous strain on the water supply and, in some cases, leads to a water ban.

This doesn't mean you have you sacrifice your flowers to the rigours of the sun -- you just have to manage your garden differently.

  • More than 50 percent of water is lost due to evaporation or over-watering, so water during the early morning or late evening when the temperature is cooler and water only what your garden needs: most need 2 to 3 centimetres of water once a week.
  • Instead of using water from the hose, disconnect your downspouts and use rain barrels to harvest rainwater. Your plants don't need treated drinking water to grow and will in fact prefer softer, non-chlorinated water.
  • Use native and drought-resistant plants and turf whenever possible.
  • Apply a thick layer of mulch to your flowerbeds and add compost to your soil to help them retain water longer.
  • Don't cut your grass shorter than 7.5 centimetres as taller grass holds more water and helps shade out weeds

"It takes all of us to make a difference," says Stalker. "There isn't one big major solution when it comes to water conservation. It's really the small things like replacing toilets and looking for leaks that will add up."

Fiona Wagner is a freelance writer in Georgetown, Ont.

-- Posted: Feb. 13, 2008
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