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Tuesday, November 12, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Features

Do Your Part: Stop flushing money down the drain

By Terri Bennett Mcclatchy

Giving your bathroom a green mini-makeover can help reduce your monthly utility bills and you’ll also be saving a whole lot of water, one of our most precious natural resources.

Some upgrades won’t cost you a penny, others will cost a few bucks, and a few bigger investments will bring a bigger payoff down the road.

Do your part and make a few upgrades to your inefficient bathroom, because it’s the one room where we waste the most at home.

Let’s start with the free stuff. Turning off the water when you brush your teeth is an easy way to save 2,000 gallons of water per person, per year.

You can also save thousands of gallons of hot water in the shower if you turn off the water while you shampoo, shave or lather up. Take it one step further and replace an older showerhead with a relatively inexpensive low flow model and save more than three gallons of water every minute someone is in the shower.

And it’s not just water you’ll be saving. You’re using heated water in that shower so you’ll also be saving energy and money.

The biggest water hog in your bathroom is likely the toilet, especially if it was installed prior to 1994. Older toilets need as much as seven gallons of water per flush compared to newer models that are required to use less than two gallons per flush.

If a new toilet isn’t in the budget, there is a no-cost or low-cost solution to reducing the amount of water used with each flush. It’s called a water displacement device; you can make one for free with a plastic jug and some gravel, or you can spend less than $25 and buy a device that drops into the back of your toilet tank.

Go to to watch my video for step-by-step instructions on making a water displacement device. You can also learn a simple test to find out if your toilet has a silent leak that is wasting up to 200 gallons a day.

By reducing the amount of water the toilet wastes, the average household can save about 17,000 gallons a year.

Of course, there are other things besides water that go to waste in the bathroom, such as shampoo bottles. Having a small recycling container in the bathroom will help you and your family to recycle those items instead of letting them waste in a landfill.

The bathroom is one room where we can really make a difference to waste less. Do your part and make a few upgrades that will have you on your way to wasting less, immediately.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist, and host of, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to

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