It’s no secret that California is going through one of its worst droughts in years. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown ordered mandatory water use reductions for the first time in state history.
There are a number of simple steps that homeowners can take to help conserve our water resources – and possibly even save money in the long run. Some of the steps may even improve your home’s appeal to potential buyers when it comes time to sell.
A typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You can reduce consumption by using water more efficiently. Here are 10 water conservation steps for both the inside and outside of your home to help get you started:
- Replace old toilets. According to the EPA, toilets are one of the main sources of water usage in homes, accounting for nearly 30% of indoor water consumption. Toilets are also a major source of wasted water due to leaks and inefficiency. Older toilets use up to 3.5 gallons per flush. The EPA estimates that switching to high-efficiency, low-flow toilets can potentially save a family of four, an average of $2,000 in water bills over the lifetime of the toilets.
- Replace or fix faucets. EPA statistics indicate that faucets account for more than 15% of indoor household water use. WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets can reduce water flow by 30% or more. If you do not want to buy a new faucet, consider replacing the aerator – the screw-on tip of the faucet that determines its flow rate. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and can often be an effective water-efficiency measure. You can also significantly reduce water usage by simply repairing leaks in toilets, faucets, showerheads and pipes.
- Replace showerheads. EPA estimates that showering accounts for approximately 17% of residential indoor water use Quality, high-efficiency shower fixtures can be purchased for approximately $10 to $20 each and could achieve a water savings of 25-60%. The best recommendation is to select a high-efficiency showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute for maximum water efficiency.
- Use a water meter to check for hidden leaks. Read your house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same as when you began, there may be a leak.
- Turn off the water after wetting your toothbrush. Leaving the water running while brushing your teeth is a habit many of us have. But there is no need to keep the water running. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.
- Replace an old clothes washer. New Energy Star rated washers use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.
- Always use full loads in dishwashers and clothes washers. Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which can add five gallons of water for the extra rinse.
- Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants. Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other plants and lawns. Consider replacing perennial borders with native plants, which use less water and will be more resistant to local plant diseases, while possibly adding to the curb appeal of your home. You can find more water efficient landscaping tips at http://eartheasy.com/grow_xeriscape.htm.
- Water early in the morning or late at night. If you must water your yard, keep in mind that it is more efficient to water either early in the morning or late at night when there is less water waste due to evaporation. It is also best to avoid watering when it’s windy since wind can cause sprinklers to miss their intended targets and it can speed up evaporation.
- Water your lawn only when necessary. Most lawns only need about one inch of water each week. According to the website Eartheasy, a conservation website, a good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering.