Life Below Zero Challenge #10: Ration Your Water

For the Arctic residents of Life Below Zero, complacency is not an option. Lack of preparedness means certain death. The stakes are high living on the outskirts of humanity, and for many in the lower 48, life can be pretty sedentary, pretty comfy and cozy… until now! [Cue Life Below Zero Weekly Challenges].

According to the EPA, the average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. Most of this consumption occurs indoors, with bathroom faucets and shower heads eating up about 2 gallons of water per minute. For Arctic residents like Sue Aikens, running water is a luxury unavailable for 9 months out of the year. On the latest episode of Life Below Zero, Sue sets out on an arduous journey to add to her stockpile. With 300 gallons to last her 9 months, Sue allows herself only 1 gallon of water per day.

For this week’s Life Below Zero Challenge, can you ration your water? Many of us flip on the faucet with little regard for how much water we’re consuming. This week, set aside a gallon per day and see how far it gets you.

Here are some tips from the EPA for cutting down on water consumption:

  • High-efficiency washing machines can conserve large amounts of water. Traditional models can use up to 54 gallons of water per load, but new, energy-conserving models use less than 27 gallons per load.
  • Washing the dishes with an open tap can use up to 20 gallons of water, but filling the sink or a bowl and closing the tap saves 10 of those gallons.
  • Keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator saves time and water instead of running the tap until it gets cold.
  • Not rinsing dishes prior to loading the dishwasher could save up to 10 gallons per load.
  • Still looking for more tips? We have more on how to save indoors AND outdoors here.

Tell us! What inspires you about the way these folks live off-grid and on their own? Think you can try giving up some of life’s little luxuries and live a sliver of the Arctic lifestyle? Let us know if you are going to partake in the weekly challenges, and share your stories and experiences. We’d love to hear from you.

Don’t miss new episodes of Life Below Zero, Thursdays at 9P… and be sure to come back next week for challenge #11!


  1. Henry
    Saint Marys,Ga
    June 20, 2014, 7:06 pm

    get another drum electric pump similar to the hand pump on her new toy and she could in minutes have 55 gallons of water ,

  2. Lillibet
    Chicago, mostly
    June 24, 2014, 7:09 pm

    Conserving water can have huge benefits, particularly for the lazy. Grass lawns take lots of water, while providing precious few benefits for our outdoor friends. Yet, laziness can be encouraged and provide habitat, attractions for birds, and a beautiful carpet of color, rather than a single color block of green. If you hate mowing, you can convert your sculptured, manicured grass lawn into a wildflower garden. You don’t need to mow a wildflower garden. Score many points for lazy.

    Watering? That’s cut down, because unlike grass, wildflowers and wild native plants, are built to survive pretty much anything, including heat and dryness that might be common in the area. After all, back a century or two, no one watered the fields or prairie. Plus, birds, butterflies, deer, rabbits and other wild things that wander through your lovely and colorful garden. This enhances your life and your neighborhood fauna love it.

    Nothing beats the sound of cardinals every morning. Finches, jays, and even the LBBs, or Little Brown Birds will fascinate. Bugs will lessen as birds eat veg and flying protein, such as mosquitoes. It’s all far better than the roar of mowers, and you have no fumes, fuel or noxious chemicals required. The mowing time saved can be put to better uses, such as watching the wild creatures come around to enjoy your kindness to them as they entertain you. As for other water savings, you can just forget bathing, but only if your friends have impaired senses of smell. Probably not such a good idea, especially in summer.

    Anyway that’s my thought for using less water outdoors. Inside, I just do the typical turning off spigots when possible, and thinking a moment before running the taps for anything.

  3. Anne
    July 4, 2014, 10:49 pm

    One gallon a day! I wish I could say that I would be able to do that. So hard to conserve water when a long drought is taking it’s toll. Foundation slabs on homes are cracking at record rate here in our area. Soaker hose’s run 24/7, and Sue runs on one gallon a day. Oil boom (Fracking) making things worse everyday. We all should think about cutting back,no matter how small our effort is. The water that Sue was getting looked so clean and clear. She’s not living a easy life. But it’s a life she loves, and that’s what it’s all about. Sue used to be my favorite on the show. But as I watch more and more episodes, I have no favorite. Every single one of these people are amazing. I have learned so much from watching Life Below Zero. Sit aside a gallon a day and see how far I get? Not very far at all.