Well for some of us out there the summer was pretty brutal. Little to no rainfall for most of July caused drought conditions over much of the US. Much of the central part of the country are still in an extreme drought situation. Many municipalities are under heavy water restrictions. With all that being said there are a number of things that you can do to reduce water usage while increasing effectiveness. Im sure at some point in your life you’ve seen a 7000 ways to reduce water, (my personal favorite is probably showering with your spouse…it’s all about the environment baby!) To limit the list we’ve categorized some of these methods into five strategies; Usage, Energy and Technology, Pools, Ponds and Pumps, Vegetation, and ‘no-nology’.
The way we go about doing things around the house can be a ‘little’ wasteful. Think about what you’re doing when you go to use water. For example, turn the water off when you brush your teeth. Or, fill the sink up when doing dishes instead of running water. Washing the car so runoff waters the grass to pull double duty. A personal favorite of mine, only because it rhymes, if it’s yellow let it mellow. Sure that one is sometimes a little awkward when you have dinner guests. Another is don’t let the water run to cool down, just fill a pitcher up with water and keep it in the fridge. Watering plants at night or in the cool of the evening can also reduce evaporation. Little tips like this can cut your water usage dramatically.
Energy and Technology
There are several things that you can do and buy that can help reduce your energy usage. Simple things like low-flow shower heads and faucet heads reduce water. Newer technology like Evolve Shower Heads stop flow of showers when the water warms up to prevent waste. There are instant hot water tanks that reduce the time water needs to flow before the hot water gets to the sink or shower. Or you can upgrade to higher efficiency toilets and washing machines. Another tool worth considering, especially if your bathrooms are spread far and wide, is a Hot Water Recirculation Pump which, when plumbed, circulates hot water from a traditional tank-style water heater to each individual sink and back to ensure hot water is always at the tap. It’s estimated by the manufacturer that a recirculation pump like the one linked above can save up to 15,000 gallons a year. Your mileage may vary.
Pools, Ponds, and Pumps
Out of the three Ps, pools and ponds are the greatest one time users of water. You’re never going to take a 10,000 gallon shower, even if you’re “showering” with your significant other. So be wise and preserve the investment. Covers for hot tubs and pools reduce the amount of water that evaporates and it also reduces the amount of cleaning, maintenance and heating you’ll need. Check the liner for any holes and check pumps and hoses for leaks. When you do need to back-flush a pump, flush it on the grass or other landscaping that can use some extra H2O.
There are a couple things you can do with your existing plants and lawn systems to reduce water. First, keep an eye on the rain gauge. Often we irrigate our plants and lawns on a timed basis, however, if we pay attention to how much rain there was, we could reduce the watering frequency. Also, changes to the irrigation types can also reduce water usage. Larger drops closer to the soil reduce evaporation and can increase root intake. Better yet, install a rain barrel to collect rain water from your roof and distribute water to plants. You can also reroute your grey water (kitchen and washer water) to the grass and trees in your yard (local codes on this vary, so check-up on your area before re-routing your grey water). And while we are on the topic of grass, consider re-landscaping the yard to increase the amount of shrubs, which require less water to keep. Adding a couple inches of mulch to these shrubs, trees and flowerbeds also increases the retention of moisture in the soil. Reducing the square footage of grass can also help tremendously.
There are a couple of simple tricks that you can do to alter or minimize the water needed for certain tasks/fixtures. For example, making sure that all your faucets have aerators on them and that they are clean will increase the effectiveness of the water flow while minimizing the volume of water you need. You can also place an object into the toilet tank to displace the water, thus decreasing the amount of water used per flush. This can be done with an actual tank displacement product or a simple stone. Fix sinks that are dripping. That should be a no-brainer but it’s one of those things that you sometime put on the very end of your to do list. A little tightening or the replacing of an O-ring or gasket can save you on your water bill.
These are just a few of the myriad of things that you can do to save water. Try a few and see how much your water bill goes down. If you have any water-saving tips of your own, please share them in the comments section below.