10 Ways to Rethink Water Use in Your Kitchen and Home

(photo credit: darkpatator)

Today's post will give you ten easy ideas on how to use water more efficiently in your kitchen and home. Water is one of cooking's most important ingredients, yet the wide availability of safe drinking water throughout the developed world can make it easy to take this precious resource for granted. It's not surprising, then, that water is one of our biggest sources of preventable waste.

By rethinking your water use, you can help the environment and save money too.

Optimizing Tap Water and Hot Water Use:
1) By installing a simple aerator onto your faucets you can reduce your tap water use by as much as 50% with little sacrifice in functionality.

2) When you let your hot water faucet run until the water heats up, don't let that excess water go to waste. Consider capturing it for other uses, like watering your plants or for cleaning.

3) Briefly turning on the hot water tap is a no-no. If you turn on the hot water and let it run for a few seconds, you are still wasting hot water--even if no hot water comes out of the tap. For every drop of cool water that runs out of the faucet, an equal amount of hot water flows from your heating tank into the pipes. That hot water never makes it to the tap: it just sits in the pipe, cooling its heels, while your hot water tank draws in new cold water to heat up again! It's a double whammy of energy waste.

4) Bonus tip for kitchen sinks with single, uni-directional faucets: if you intend to draw cold water from your faucet, take care to push the faucet handle all the way over to the "cold" side. If you push the handle straight back, you'll pull a mix of hot and cold water, wasting heat and energy for no reason.

5) Using your dishwasher doesn't just save time, it saves water too: hand-washing dishes in the sink can use twice the water of an average dishwasher--as long as you make sure to run it with a full load.

6) Most homes are fitted with conventional tank-style hot water heaters that use energy to keep a large reservoir of water heated at all times. If you use hot water infrequently and in small quantities, consider installing an on-demand hot water heater instead.

Saving Energy While Cooking With Water:
7) You can heat a pot of water more efficiently by covering it with a lid, trapping heat and steam that would otherwise escape.

8) An Electric Tea Kettle (two typical examples on Amazon) is by far the most efficient household tool for boiling water. These handy gadgets boil water much faster and with far less energy than a traditional stovetop tea kettle. Also, once the water comes to a boil, most electric kettles automatically shut off, reducing energy waste further.

9) Water is exactly the same temperature at a vigorous boil as it is at a gentle boil, and no matter how much additional heat or energy you apply to boiling water, the temperature will never exceed 100 degrees Celsius. Once your food begins boiling, consider turning the burner down significantly. You can maintain a slow or moderate boil with considerably less energy.

10) Furthermore, you can turn the burner off entirely during the last few minutes of boiling pasta or vegetables, using the water's passive heat to finish cooking your food. Water holds heat extremely efficiently, so this technique can save a lot of energy without compromising food quality.

A final note of thanks: I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Kate Heyhoe and her exceptional book Cooking Green for inspiring me to write this post.

Without changing your politics, or completely disrupting your routine, you can reduce greenhouse gases simply by rethinking what you do every day: consume food.
--Kate Heyhoe, from Cooking Green

Related Posts:
Review: Cooking Green by Kate Heyhoe
Defeat the Diderot Effect in Your Kitchen and Home
What Have You Given Up That You Don't Miss?
Stacked Costs and Second-Order Foods: A New Way to Think About Rising Food Costs

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from Amazon.com via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!


Liz T. said...

Love my electric kettle! I'm not even a tea drinker but I use it all the time.

In the summer (our dry season) I even capture pasta water, lettuce washing water, etc. to water my plants. I suppose I should save it in the winter too but it's wet enough here and I'd have nowhere to store it!

Charity said...

These are great tips, Dan. Every time I hear about water shortages or drought in other areas of the world (even in our own country), I'm shamed by my own lack of conscientiousness. Thanks for bringing awareness.

Unknown said...

I love my electric kettle too :) My English husband insisted on it and I thought it was silly, but it's so great for boiling water for pasta, stock, etc. He can't believe at how many of our friends go 'what's that?' He said it's like if someone asked us what a microwave is.

Anyway, I <3 this blog but my dad's voice is coming through to me saying "It's a water heater, not a hot water heater. If the water's already hot, why heat it?" :D

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

Great post Dan. I admit I'm sort of fanatical about saving water. I live in Denver, a semi-arid part of the country. We depend upon reservoirs for our water use and those reservoirs depend on mountain snowpack melt to fill up in the spring. A winter with less snow in the mountains combined with less rainfall in our area and we've had a couple of summers with drought conditions that require everyone cut back.

Well, not everyone. The problem is that water restrictions limit watering our lawns to just 2 or 3 days a week but see no one ticketed for the runoff going down the street. Large lot owners still use gargantuan amounts of water. I will forever be amazed that Kentucky Bluegrass is planted in yards all over the southwest; it's a grass that requires moisture so sprinkler systems are a typical expectation with most homes.

Makes me NUTS but I still do what I can; not to save money so much because it's really not that expensive surprisingly but just to conserve a resource. Low flow toilets and shower heads, signs for my kids that ONLY full loads would be allowed in the washing machine, a stern warning if they luxuriated a bit too long in the shower...those were everyday practices that I've had in place for over 15 years.

My neighbors thought me a bit of a freak until we had a bad drought...then they all wanted to know my secrets. Simple. Waste not. That's all!

Wonoderyo said...

Puisi nya bagus bangezz...

++Menunggu Kekasih++

Kabut malam begitu petang
Tanpa sinar cahaya rembulan
Semilir angin dimalam itu
Terhendus rintikan hujan
Menyapa malam sunyi
Terlihat sosok tergar berdiri
Terlihat disamping jendela tanpa kaca
Liat selengkapnya..............
Puisi Lucu Di Buaian Ibu
Puisi Menunggu Kekasih Kerinduan Mendalam
Kumpulan Puisi Religi Cermin (renungan)

Puisi Politik Suap Orang Sipil

Puisi Katakan Cinta Seribu Cinta Milyaran Trilyunan
Puisi Cinta Cita Kasih (Suryadi Acep Sunarya)