North Carolina Water Conservation Tips
This has been one of the driest years in history in North Carolina since weather records have been kept. Many areas have been forced to implement tight restrictions on water usage. Below are some simple tips that can be used by most folks to conserve water:
- Adhere to local water use restrictions. One of the most important things you can do during periods of drought is to follow your local government's current water restrictions. You can even get ahead of the game and begin to conserve before restrictions are implemented.
- Refit your plumbing. Determine the water output of your plumbing (faucets, showers, etc.) and either replace fixtures with newer, low-flow models. Installing water-saving devices is a good idea. Some cities, counties, or utilities may even offer rebates for replacing older fixtures.
- Place a bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water required to fill it. Using low-flow devices at the tap can reduce consumption as much as 50 percent. Replace older toilets that use from 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush with the newer low-flush toilets that use only 1.6 gallons per flush. Installing a 0.5 gallon-per-minute faucet aerator will reduce the amount of water used by 77 percent compared to traditional 2.2 gallon-per-minute faucets.
- Check for leaks and make the appropriate repairs. Leaks account for a large amount of water used. In the average home, leaks amount to about 15 percent of all household indoor water use.
- Check tub and sink faucets for drips and replace washers and "O-rings" as necessary. You can place food coloring in your toilet tank and watch if the coloring shows up in the toilet bowl before flushing. If this hapens, replace the leaking flap.
- Turn off all water to your home and look at the readout dial on your water meter. If the dial moves, you have a leak. Check pipes coming into the house for leaks and have them repaired immediately.
- Check outside faucets and garden hoses. These types of leaks can waste up to 500 gallons of water per month.
- Use indoor water wisely. Approximately half of all indoor water is used in the bathroom. The primary uses of water in the bathroom are flushing toilets and bathing/showering.
- Don't let the water run while lathering, shampooing, brushing your teeth, or shaving. Try to reduce the length of showers to aobut five minutes.
- Take time to locate your main water shut-off valve and the water meter in your yard. Knowing where the main shut-off is can possibly prevent the loss of thousands of gallons of water in the event of an emergency.
- Use dry cleanup methods to reduce both indoor and outdoor water use. Not only do they conserve water, dry clean up methods also protect the environment by reducing the amount of pollutants that can enter water supplies.
- Using a broom to sweep debris from driveways instead of hosing it off.
- Collect rainwater from your gutters and use it to water vegetable gardens, flowers, trees, etc. Collect water from the bath/shower while waiting for it to warm up and use it for watering plants. Water from air conditioners and heat pumps can also be used for watering. .
- Use water-consuming appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers wisely. Run them only with full loads.
- Install water-saving dishwashers, front-loading washing machines and other appliances that help save water. Water-saving dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water, which is about one-third of the water needed by a standard dishwasher. Some water-conserving clothes washers use about 30 gallons of water for a 19-pound load, about the same that standard washers use for an eight-pound load.
- If you use a carwash, look for one that recycles water. By reclaiming and filtering the water used, commercial carwashes significantly reduce the amount of water required to clean each vehicle.
- Avoid using sink disposals for food scraps. Composting food scraps is much more economical than using a garbage disposal. In addition to conserving water, you can create rich compost material that can be used in gardens to aid the soil in retaining moisture. Garbage disposals use several gallons of water unnecessarily during operation. Also, they can add 50 percent to the volume of solids in your septic tank. Disposals can use around 11 gallons of water per minute.