Tips for Saving Water – Our Most Precious Resource

Water is the planet’s most precious resource. Access to clean water is a privilege that, unfortunately, many people still take for granted. Even if you don’t live in the currently drought-stricken west, conserving water is still something everyone should be doing. As our population continues to grow, maintaining water resources will always be a primary need.

By utilizing new water efficiency technologies and age-old conservation methods, we can help preserve the water supply for future generations. Cutting down on consumption can range from simple tweaks to drastic changes. Here are a few tips you and your family can use to get started:

water-saving-faucetSimple Tweaks:

Run your sprinklers while you’re awake once a month

The #1 culprit for water waste comes from irrigation systems that are either broken or misaligned. Seeing water pouring down a driveway and forming a small river in the gutter really hurts. Especially when the lakes and rivers we enjoy visiting so much are down as much as 70% or even non-existent because of drought conditions. A broken sprinkler head wastes hundreds of gallons a week and is a super easy fix. Sprinklers that over shoot the target “watering the sidewalk” or those that are running for way too long can also waste huge amounts of water = money for homeowners. Take a couple minutes once a month and check your irrigation system for leaks and accuracy.

Making Sure Your Home Holds Water

The first stop on your journey to save water is to ensure your home is free of water leaks. Make your way through your home, and properly shut off the water at all fixtures and faucets. Air-cooling systems and other devices that use water should also be shut off. Read your water meter, wait two hours (without using any water), and check it again. If your water meter gives you two different readings, you are losing water somewhere, and the problem needs further investigating.

Air It Out And Get In the Flow

Installing aerators on faucets and shower heads reduce their usage by half. These are inexpensive and easy to install. By injecting air into the water flow, you keep the same water pressure, but use less water.

Time Tested Tweaks

For many years now, we’ve all heard of these water-saving activities. However, it’s never a bad idea to refresh your memory as every little bit helps, especially when multiplied by millions of people.

  • Shorten your shower by a couple minutes or reduce the time it is running while “warming up”
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, shaving or cleaning dishes
  • Water the yard in the early morning, rather than during the hot part of the day.
  • Use a quick shut off nozzle on your hose. Not only does it save a lot of water while washing a car or watering, but they come with all sorts of fun spray patterns!
  • Sweep up grass trimmings instead of spraying them into the gutter with the hose.
  • If you’re not going to drink it, don’t ask for water at a restaurant.
  • Mulch around your plants and trees. Mulch helps hold in moisture and reduces weeds.

 

water-saving-sprinklerModerate Changes:

Retrofit sprinklers with water efficient heads

This is so easy to do and cuts down runoff by as much as 75%! I’ve actually done this at my own house and absolutely love it. Rotating nozzles screw right into your existing spray heads and send out thin streams of water at varying distances. The thin streams are much less affected by wind which means more water hits your lawn. The water is put down at a much slower pace which means runoff is virtually non-existent. Think about that next time you see your neighbors sprinklers creating a mini river down the curb.

Installing these heads not only save you money by using less water, but many water agencies even offer them at a significant discount over those purchased in retail stores. Check them out!

Drip irrigation

Much like water efficient heads, newer technology has made installing drip irrigation much easier than in the past. You can easily do it over a weekend. Drip irrigating your plants, scrubs and trees is not only more water efficient, but also results in healthier plants and less weeds!

Time it right

In addition to watering during the early morning hours, it is important to know how much you should be watering and how often. An easy way to measure this is by taking a couple empty tuna cans and spacing them around your grass. Run your sprinklers for 15 minutes (or 30 if using a water efficient head) and then use a tape measure to see how much water was put down over that time. Your local water agency should have a chart of how many inches per day grass in your area needs. Some simple math does the rest and you now have a very efficient watering system.

Be sure to follow local water agency recommendations about how often to water. It is much healthier to water more heavily, less often than giving your grass a “sip” every day. Deeper watering promotes roots to grow deeper, resulting in grass that requires less waterings.

Choose the right landscape

We’re not suggesting a complete landscape overhaul as a moderate change. However, being smart about what plants you select for your region can not only save water, but help save you time and money by not having to water your landscape as much or replace dead plants that simply aren’t designed to thrive in your area. Don’t assume if your local hardware store sells it, that it’s good for your area. If you’re going to be planting a lot, consider buying a book such as the Sunset gardening book for your area and see which plants will give you your desired results (color, shape, size) while still being appropriate for your climate.

Purchasing Low-Flow Appliances

Most people are not going to run out and drop $100+ on a new toilet just to save water. However, if the time comes when you need to replace an appliance such as a toilet, dishwasher, washing machine, etc…why not look into getting a more water efficient version. Many have come down in price over the past few years and work even better than their older counterparts.

 

water-saving-landscapeDrastic Measures:

Install a low water landscape

Areas such as the desert communities in the southwest have done this for years out of necessity. While the rest of us may not have to resort to rocks and cactus in our yard, there are many options available today that still look good. Even if you live in an area that gets plenty of rain, low water landscapes often mean low maintenance too.

1. Install a synthetic lawn – Technology has improved the look and feel of the synthetics over the past few years and many local water agencies even provide tax rebates for installing them. Not only do they save water, they’re incredible low maintenance! So instead of spending your weekends mowing, edging and weeding, you could be out doing something way more fun and still have the greenest lawn in the neighborhood.

2. Switch to hardscaping – Combining large boulders, smaller river rocks and water efficient plants into beautiful designs is something many new communities are going to. It’s becoming more mainstream as designers find new ways to make hardscaping look warm and inviting. Online sources such as pintrest and houzz.com make finding design ideas fast and easy!

Keep what nature gives

Some homeowners have installed systems outside their homes to capture as much rain / runoff as possible into large barrels. This water is then used for irrigation during the dry times of the year. When combined with a low water landscape, this can greatly reduce the amount of “new” water that gets used for watering landscapes. Obviously this level of commitment is not for everyone, but if you’re up for a little planning, it could go a long way to saving water and money in your pocket.