Ways to Conserve Water Around the Home

Reference Number: KB-01090
Last Modified: September 29, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite or Home Designer Interiors or Home Designer Essentials or Home Designer Landscape & Deck


The region where we live experiences water shortages, so we want to install water-efficient plumbing fixtures when we update our kitchen and bathrooms. Do you have any suggestions?


Water conservation is an important issue in many places. One reason, of course, is a limited water supply; however, many communities are struggling to cope with increasing quantities of waste water and the need to protect the local environment. In both cases, there are a number of things that homeowners can do to help - and save money in the process. 


Some manufacturers offer downloadable 3D symbols and finish options on their web sites, as well as in the Google 3D Warehouse. In Home Designer Suite, Architectural Home Designer, and Home Designer Pro you can import these symbols in .obj, .3ds, or .skp, format as well as create custom materials based on their finish samples.  To learn more, see the Home Designer Help Database articles in the Related Articles section.

When researching new fixtures, faucets, and appliances to purchase, here are some water-efficiency considerations to bear in mind:

In the Bathroom

In many homes, more water is used in the bathroom than anywhere else - which means that potentially, there are also many ways to save water in this room.


  • Low-Flow Toilets - Toilets installed before 1994 may use up to 5 gallons of water per flush (gpf), compared with a maximum 1.6 gallons per flush required today.  By some estimates, replacing an old, inefficient toilet with a modern, 1.6 gpf fixture can save literally thousands of gallons of water per year.

  • WaterSense Toilets - WaterSense is an EPA-sponsored program that helps identify toilets that exceed current standards, allowing you to save 20% more water than a low-flow toilet.

  • Dual-Flush Toilets - Even if you already have low-flow toilets, you can conserve additional additional water by upgrading them to dual-flush models. These toilets have a choice of flush volumes: for example, 1.6 gpf for solids and a mere 0.8 gpf for liquids.

  • Composting and Incinerating Toilets - In areas with extreme water supply or waste water issues, composting or incinerating toilets may be a useful alternative to traditional flush toilets. Check with local regulations to see if they are allowed in your area.

When they were first introduced, water-efficient toilets gained a reputation for poor performance. Many of today's toilets, though, actually flush more effectively than older high-flow toilets even though they use much less water.

Many municipalities and utility companies offer rebates or credits for upgrading an old, high-flow toilet with a modern low-flow fixture.  Additional rebates may also be available for WaterSense certified toilets. For more information, check with your local water or power utility.

Efficient toilets are available with a range of options, and in a range of prices, from many manufacturers. They also come in a wide variety of styles, from traditional to retro to ultra-modern.

Showerheads and Faucets

  • Faucet Aerators - Aerated faucets and showerheads reduce water flow up to 50% by mixing the water with air.  Water flow is reduced without lowering water pressure, but particularly in the shower, the water temperature may also be reduced.  Some faucets have built-in aerators, but you can also purchase inexpensive faucet aerators that simply screw in to the faucet opening. 

  • Low-Flow Showerheads - Low-flow showerheads reduce water flow by restricting it rather than by introducing air.  They often have different pulse or flow settings that the user can adjust.

  • Pause option - Some showerheads have a Pause button, which allows the user to actually stop water flow temporarily while washing their hair or shaving. It is also convenient when performing other tasks like cleaning the shower or bathing a pet. 


While not as common as toilet rebates, rebates for low flow faucets and showerheads, and/or faucet aerators are available in some areas. See, for example, the EPA's rebate finder web page. 

In the Kitchen

The kitchen also presents a number of opportunities for water conservation. 


  • Aerators - As in the bath, aerated faucets greatly reduce water consumption compared to non-aerated faucets.

  • Hand-held sprayers - While sprayers may not be an obvious water-saving option, they are more efficient at rinsing many objects including clean dishes and foods than a standard faucet: doing a better job with less water.

  • Instant Hot Water - If you often run water in the kitchen sink waiting for it to get hot, an instant hot water faucet may be a convenient and effective way for you to conserve water and save time.


Dishwashers present less of an opportunity to save water than is sometimes assumed. When a full load is run using an energy-saving setting, a modern dishwasher is likely to use less water than a typical person washing and rinsing the equivalent number of dishes by hand; however, if the person takes steps to control how much water is used for washing and rinsing, they can actually use about as much water as a dishwasher.

  • If your existing dishwasher was manufactured prior to 1994, you should consider replacing it. Today's dishwashers are much more efficient and effective than in the past.

  • Energy Star - If you purchase a dishwasher, look for an Energy Star qualified model. As of 2009, Energy Star dishwashers must meet both energy and water use standards and may qualify you for a rebate or tax credit.


    Garbage Disposals

    Garbage disposals are a convenient way to get rid of food scraps; however, they also require water to run and ultimately increase the amount of food matter and water directed to your local sewer system or to your septic tank.  To use your garbage disposal less, or to avoid using it altogether, consider using a compost bin to dispose of vegetable scraps.

    In the Laundry Room 

    Laundry accounts for a considerable amount of a typical household's water use.  A standard, top loading washer uses about 41 gallons of water per load.

    • Energy Star - When researching a new washer or dryer, look for an Energy Star qualified model. As with other types of appliances and fixtures, Energy Star washers and dryers may qualify you for a rebate or tax credit.

    • Water Factor - To determine how efficiently a given washer uses water, look for its Water Factor rating. This rating divides the total volume of water used for a full load and divides it by the washer's total clothing capacity. The lower the Water Factor rating, the more efficient the washing machine.


    There is a wealth of information online related to water conservation. Here are a few resources:

    Alliance for Water Efficiency

    Council for an Energy Efficient Economy - Consumer Resources

    American Water and Energy Savers - Save Water 49 Ways

    epa.gov - WaterSense toilets

    You can also check with your local water utility, municipality, as well as with local conservation groups for more ways to conserve water in your community.