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Tips for Conserving Water
With the unofficial start of summer this past weekend, most folk's water bills will be rising. Americans are somewhat obsessed with who has the greenest lawn and use lots of water each week to keep it green. On top of watering the lawn, there will be flowers and gardens that need watering. Even if you don't have lots of annuals to tend to, in places that get pretty hot and don't receive much rain, outdoor watering is a fact of life and a requirement if anything is to live. There are ways to save on water though.
1. Reuse water when you can. Put a bucket in the shower with you to collect the excess water coming out of the showerhead. Use this water to help fill the washing machine, flush the toilet, or water the outdoor stuff (let it cool off first though). Another way to reuse water is to use the water leftover from steaming vegetables or boiling pasta to water your plants. The added nutrients will benefit the plant and you are using the same water twice.
2. When you are waiting for the tap water to get hot, collect it in a jug to use later. When I turn my faucet on hot and wait for it to actually get hot, I collect almost a full gallon milk jug each time. I use this to water my garden or houseplants. This can easily add up to a few gallons a day, or 100 a month.
3. Get pipe insulation and wrap it around any exposed pipes. This will help the water that is sitting in the pipes stay warm longer.
4. Get a low flow shower head. Typically people don't notice a difference in the amount of water that comes out when they are showering, but they are using less water.
5. Have small children share bath water. In fact having kids take a bath will typically use less water. If other kids are anything like my kids, showers are fun and they like to hang out and play in them. Which drains the hot water tank completely and yet they still haven't done their hair.
6. When running the bath water, plug up the drain before you turn the water on, and then adjust the water temperature later.
7. Another tip for kids - take different colors of electrical tape to mark the appropriate depths for kids to fill the tub to. The older kids will get deeper water than the younger kids. Use a different color for each child.
8. Only shower once a day. I am amazed at how many people bathe two or more times a day. Sometimes this may be warranted, but I can't recall a time that I have really been that dirty multiple times a day.
9. Only water your lawn when needed - which is not going to be every day. If when you walk across your grass you leave footprints behind, it is time to water. They say that lawns only need 1 inch of water a week. I find this hard to believe, but maybe it really depends on the climate. We were on watering restrictions for most of the time I lived in CO. We found that watering our lawns three times a week for 15 minutes at a time was plenty to keep the grass green. Two times a week however was not enough.
10. Water outdoors in the early morning or late evening when the water is less likely to evaporate. The more water the soil can soak up the less often you will have to water.
11. Only run the washing machine or dishwasher when it is very full. My husband is always amazed at how many more dishes I can fit in the dishwasher after he thinks it is full. My dishes always come out clean and overall I am using less water and electricity when I run these machines less frequently.
12. Think about installing a low flow toilet or a front loading washing machine. These things use less water compared to the regular ones. Frequently utility companies will over rebates or credits on your bill for installing these, so it could be a better deal than you think.
13. If you don't want to install a low flow toilet, fill a 2 liter bottle with water and put it inside the back of your toilet. This will make the toilet use less water to flush.
14. In the 60's and 70's there was a saying - "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down." Consider this advice, especially if you have small children. Unfortunately small children love to flush the toilet, even if they only got a few drops out. A compromise around here is that before we leave the house we all use the bathroom and flush at the end. One flush versus five or six can save a lot of water over the course of a week or month.
15. Keep a jug of water in the fridge at all times. It will be nice and cold and you won't have to stand there waiting for the tap water to get cold, all while gallons of water are flowing down the drain.
16. Think about whether you need to actually fill up the pot with water or would half a pot work? So many times we just fill until something is full not really considering the actual amount that would suit our needs.
17. When you are planting grass or plants, look for ones that use less water or that are even drought tolerant. There are many options to chose from and still look very nice. Xeriscaping has gotten very big in Colorado for more reasons than just saving on water. There is usually less upkeep as well, which will free up your time for other things. That is a win-win situation if you ask me. Planting in the spring or fall will require less water to get the plant established.
18. Pay attention to the weather. If it rained earlier in the day, do not water your flowers and garden later that day. And please turn off your sprinkler system. It is painful for me to watch sprinkler systems going while it is raining. It seems like such a waste.
19. Fix the leaks! Leaks can waste hundreds of gallons of water each month. For faucets it is easy to tell if they are dripping. For toilets, put some food coloring into the tank and if the water in the bowl turns that color you know you have a leak.
20. Do your dishes really need to be rinsed before being put in the dishwasher? I know for my dishwasher to get things clean I can't have chunks of food on them, but other people's dishwashers have built in garbage disposals that can handle that. No pre-rinsing needed.
21. If you are in the market for a new appliance, look for one that uses less water.
22. Don't leave the water running while you are brushing your teeth or shaving.
23. Adjust the force of the water. You don't always need full blast to get some clean. When rinsing produce in particular the water really does go right down the drain. Turn the water down so you are using less and catch the runoff in a tub to water other things.
I believe that saving on water consumption will greatly help the environment. Not only that but it will save you money. As with many things, just by being aware of how much water you are using will likely get you using less. Pay attention and don't do things out of habit. Think first to see if they are really needed. Here's to conserving water!