In addition to helping the environment, water conservation also saves you money. Every drop of water that flows down your drain or spills into your yard or runs down your driveway unused is a drop you pay for twice: first, in the form of higher water bills, and second, in the form of higher sewage bills. And if that wasted water is heated, your gas or electric bill will be higher too. The following are some conservation measures suggested by the American Water Works Association in their booklet A Consumer’s Guide to Water Conservation:
- Fix leaky faucets, toilets, and showerheads. Simply fixing a leaky flapper valve on a toilet can save hundreds of gallons of water a week! Not all leaks are easy to detect. Here’s a hint to check your toilet for leaks: put several drops of dark food coloring in the tank. Check after 15 minutes: if the water in the bowl is tinted, the toilet leaks.
- Purchase water/energy-efficient dishwashers and washing machines; then use the features appropriately (i.e. set for small loads, light cycles, etc.).
- Only run dishwashers and washing machines when full.
- Don’t rinse dishes in the sink before putting them in a dishwasher except when absolutely necessary.
- If you don’t do many loads of wash each week, purchase a front-loading washing machine which uses 33% less water (and usually holds smaller loads) than most toploading machines.
- Save up to 5 gallons a day by not letting a faucet run continuously for vegetable and dish washing, or while brushing your teeth, washing your hair, or shaving.
- Take short showers rather than baths. An average bath uses 40 gallons of water, while most people use less than 20 gallons for a shower.
- Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap to get cold water.
- Don’t use a toilet to flush waste that can go in a trash can.
- Install low-flow aerators (screens) on bathroom and kitchen faucets to cut consumption by up to 6%.
- Switch to low-flow (1.6 gallon) toilets and shower heads.
- Insulate your water heater and the first few feet of pipes entering and exiting the water heater to reduce heat loss.
- Water lawns only when needed. If you leave a trail of footprints, it’s time to water.
- Water lawns before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid evaporation.
- Early morning watering is best to prevent fungus growth.
- Avoid watering on windy days.
- For better absorption, try watering in three 10-minute sessions a half hour apart, rather than one 30 minute period.
- Use mulch and several inches of rich topsoil to keep the soil moist and save on watering needs.
- Aerate regularly and fertilize properly.
- Keep grass 2½ to 3 inches high to shade roots and prevent evaporation.
- Drip irrigation is preferable for vegetables, shrubs, trees and perennials. It is also measured in gallons per hour, whereas sprinklers are measured in gallons per minute.
- Plant native or drought-resistant grass and plants. Learn about “Xeriscape” (water conservation through creative landscaping).
- Water trees slowly, deeply, and infrequently to encourage deep rooting.
- Use a broom instead of a garden hose to clean off driveways, walks or patios.
- Use a sponge and a bucket of water instead of a hose to wash your car.
- Use rain barrels to capture runoff from your roof during a storm. This free water can then be used to water plants and gardens instead of using water from the faucet that draws from our aquifer.
- Cover your pool. Uncovered pools can lose up to 1,000 gallons of water per month.