How can I save water in my apartment building?

Although apartments generally use less water than houses, in some ways apartment dwellers can do more to conserve water than homeowners. Think of it this way, if everyone in your building does a little something to save water, that small water savings is multiplied by the number of units. So if everyone saves just two gallons of water a day, your building may be saving 10, 50, or 100 gallons a day, depending on the number of units.

Some apartment dwellers pay their own water bills, and some do not. But whether or not you have an individual water bill, it benefits you to conserve water. Conservation helps keep water costs down, and water costs impact the price of necessities such as food (because farms use so much water) — and rent.

A Water-Friendly Apartment, Inside…

Like long showers? Most apartments already have water-saving showerheads that use 2.5 gallons of water per minute or less (you can check by seeing if your shower can fill a five-gallon bucket in two minutes). Some renters find that these showerheads don’t produce a satisfying spray. If so, ask your apartment manager if you can install a water-saving showerhead of your own.

Even if you already have a low-flow showerhead, every minute you shorten your shower can save up to 75 gallons per month. And remember, there’s power in numbers — if every apartment in a 15-unit building cut just one minute from their daily shower, that would be a savings of 1,125 gallons every month!

Got a leaky faucet? Report leaks promptly to your building manager. A little drip may not seem like much, but a faucet that drips just five times a minute may be wasting more than 260 gallons a year.

Do you leave the faucet running when you brush your teeth? Turn it off to save 70 gallons of water per month or more. You can also ask your building manager to install water-saving faucet aerators (available from Hawaii Water at no cost) to reduce your faucet water use up to 13%.

…and Out

Have a dirty car? Use a bucket of water instead of a hose to wash your car. Even better, take your car to a car wash that recycles its water.

See a leaky sprinkler? An apartment building is a community, and what affects the building affects the tenants. If you see a leak — from a broken sprinkler, washing machine, or pipe, for example — report it immediately to your building manager.

See room for improvement? Your building manager should also be notified if you see other types of water waste. For example, it’s best to water lawns when the sun is down to minimize evaporation, so you should inform your manager if an automated watering system’s timer seems to be off. You should also bring to your manager’s attention old, inefficient washing machines, gardeners who use water to clean walkways instead of sweeping them, and other water wasters.

Got a suggestion for avoiding water waste? Send it to us!