• Skill Level: Beginner - Intermediate Help
    Time Required: Variable

    This may come as a surprise to you, but it's estimated that the annual amount of water leaking from homes across the nation is equivalent to the annual water usage of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami — combined. Worse, 10% of those homes leak 90 gallons a day or more. Fortunately, most of these leaks can be easily fixed by homeowners themselves, simply by tightening showerheads and faucets, replacing toilet flaps, replacing leaking water sprinkler heads and, when appropriate, upgrading to more energy efficient washing appliances and fixtures.

    What does this have to do with energy? More than you imagine. Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours. So take a look at the project below and get started on saving water — and energy — today.

    Videos:

    Add to My To Do List

Find Out If You Have Any Water Leaks

The easiest way to find out if you have any water leaks in your home is to do a simple test. First, make sure your washer and dishwasher are off, and that all your faucets are turned off tight. Then go to your water meter, write down the numbers and wait. After a two-hour period, check the numbers on your meter again. If they've changed, you have a leak.

Find Out If You Have Any Toilet Leaks

There's an equally simple test for discovering whether you have a leak in any of your toilets. All you have to do is place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If you see color in the toilet bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak.

Fix Your Toilet Leaks

Most people know that their toilet is leaking because they can hear the sound of it running long after it's been flushed. Usually, the problem is as simple as replacing an old rubber flapper. If that doesn't work, you might have a bigger problem. And unless you're confident in your plumbing skills, you might want to call a professional to replace your toilet.

Fix Your Faucet and Shower Leaks

When you fix your water leaks, you can save two ways — by repairing and upgrading. For example, you could stop your showerheads from leaking by simply replacing the washers and making sure that your connections are tight. But if you were to upgrade to more water-conserving fixtures at the same time — like low-flow aerators or automatic turn-offs — you could add another layer of efficiency and save an extra three gallons a minute in the shower alone.

Check Your Outdoor Watering System

Each spring, you should check your garden irrigation system to make sure there's no damage due to the freezing temperatures of the winter. You could do this yourself, or you could consult a professional who's passed a certification program. Find out more at the US Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense website.