Conserving water

Minnesota may be the “land of 10,000 lakes,” but this title doesn’t exclude us from the importance of water conservation. Using less water is important for several reasons:

  • It takes a considerable amount of energy to deliver and treat the water you use every day. According to the EPA, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours!
  • Water has a high heat capacity, meaning it takes a lot of energy to make hot water.
  • Only 3% of Earth’s surface water is drinkable. Water is a precious resource that we should not waste!

Find leaks and fix them

A leak in your house can waste hundreds of gallons of water. You'll also be paying for water that you aren't even using! Here is how to find out if you have a leak at your house:

  • Turn all water-using appliances off so that no water is being used. This means turning off all water inside and outside the house, including showers, sinks, washing machines, and any appliance that uses water.
  • Find your water meter and watch it. Your meter will have a red or black round disc that is commonly called a “leak indicator.” If it is spinning, you have a leak.

Toilets are a common source of water leaks. To check a toilet for a leak, flush the toilet and while the reservoir is still filling, add 2 or 3 drops of food coloring to the water in the reservoir. Wait 15 to 30 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes colors, the flapper valve needs to be replaced. You can buy a new flapper, with installation instructions, at your local hardware store.

Helpful videos

The Portland-area HTML icon Regional Water Providers Consortium offers these quality online videos that explain finding and fixing household water leaks.

Use less hot water

10 to 20% of a typical Minnesota residential energy bill goes to heat water. You’ll save money by using less hot water. It’s simple!

  • Set your water heater to 120º F.
  • Don’t run water unnecessarily.
  • Wash clothes on cold usually, warm occasionally, hot rarely. Always wash full loads.
  • Wash full loads of dirty dishes in the dishwasher rather than hand wash. It actually uses less water!
  • Insulate water lines where possible.
  • Have water heater inspected when you do your annual furnace check.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead and use water aerators on all faucets.

Use water-efficient appliances

  • An HTML icon ENERGY STAR rated washing machine will use half the water and a third of the electricity of an older model.
  • If you wash dishes by hand or use an old dishwasher, switch to a new HTML icon ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher to save money on your utility bills now. ENERGY STAR qualified models use 31% less energy and 33% less water than conventional machines while delivering superior cleaning performance.
  • Install low-flow showerheads, use water aerators on all faucets.
  • Buy a 1.6 gallon low-flow toilet. Old toilets (1992 or older) use 3-7 gallons per flush. Some manufacturers are now offering dual flush toilets. These innovative products offer two flushing modes – a half-flush for liquid and a full-flush for solids.

Use water-friendly landscaping

  • Replace grass with native plants that require less water and maintenance. See our native plants page for information.
  • When you do water, water wisely. See our lawncare page for information.

Learn even more

HTML icon WaterSense (U.S. EPA)

WaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by reducing the use of water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services.