There are a variety of reasons why a family would want to reduce its water consumption — save money, avoid taxes, lower energy use, minimize the carbon footprint — but sometimes it’s hard to break old habits.

Here are a few helpful suggestions from Canadian government agencies and American Standard, which is a presence in many of the nation’s bathrooms and kitchens.

Half of domestic water consumption takes place in the bathroom.

1. Turn the tap off while you are cleaning your teeth or shaving. That’s water running to waste. A quick burst to clean your brush or your razor is water well-used.

2. If a tap leaks, fix it. Just a small drip can waste seven buckets of water a day.

3. A low-flow shower head reduces consumption by 25 per cent or more without spoiling your shower experience.

4. The biggest single user of water in the home is the toilet. Switching to a high-efficiency model (HET) will cut the total flush by 40 or 50 per cent. Many municipalities will cover part of the cost.

Most of the rest is used in the kitchen.

5. Again, turn the tap off when the water is simply running to waste. When hand-washing dishes use a partly-filled sink. When washing fruits and vegetables use a sink or bowl. A spray attachment is an economical way of rinsing.

6. Save your dishwasher for full loads. The same applies to your clothes washer. You’ll be saving energy as well as water if you do.

7. Drinking lots of water is good for you. Letting the tap run until the water is cold is bad for everyone. For drinking, keep a container of water cold in your fridge.

Meanwhile, if you have a garden:

8. During warm weather, lawns and gardens need the equivalent of five millimetres of rainfall — not more. Much less is required when it’s cool.

9. Over-watering in anticipation of a shortage is a waste. The soil won’t retain the extra moisture.

Brooms sweep driveways better than hoses.

Over the last decade use of water-saving appliances has increased steadily in Canadian homes. At the same time, water conservation regulations are becoming stricter and more widespread, and will continue to do so.

Water shortages affect everyone, but everyone is in a position to help prevent them from happening.

Advice on water conservation is found online at This website also provides a water use calculator, and lists Canadian municipalities that share the cost of high-efficiency appliances.