Whether you’re in an older home or a brand-new one, you can still save water. Most of these suggestions cost little or nothing, and don’t require a major lifestyle shift — just a little change in your normal routine.
- Replace older toilets with low-flow models to save up to 50%.
- More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when necessary. If you use more than 25,000 gallons per month during the summer, get a free irrigation system evaluation by calling 703-289-1155
- Install FREE water-saving showerheads that use 2.5 gallons per minute or less.
- Report water waste from malfunctioning irrigation systems — call 703-289-1155
- Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later. Your pool should lose no more than 1/4 inch each day.
- Make your next clothes washer a water-saver
- Use sprinklers that throw big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
- When washing dishes by hand, use a sink full of soapy water — don’t let the water run.
- Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste.
- Place an empty tuna can on your lawn to catch and measure the water output of your sprinklers.
- Scrape food from your plates instead of rinsing. Newer dishwashers and detergents get dishes just as clean without the need to pre-rinse.
- Hand-water with a hose where possible. Homeowners who water with a handheld hose can use one-third less water outdoors than those who use automatic sprinklers.
- Cook food in as little water as possible. This will also retain more of the nutrients.
- Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of load you are using.
- Fix toilet leaks. Plumbing leaks as a whole account for 14 percent of water consumed in the home, according to a study sponsored by the American Water Works Association.
- Install water saving aerators on household faucets.
- Buy a rain gauge to track how much rain or irrigation your yard receives.
- Fill your pool a few inches lower than usual.
- Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
- Chill drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the faucet until the water is cold
- Clean your driveway or sidewalk with a broom, not a hose.
- Purchase a rainbarrel to capture rainwater for use on your landscape.
- Choose drought-tolerant plants when landscaping, and group plants with similar water needs together (hydrozoning).
- Divide your watering cycle into shorter periods to reduce runoff and allow for better absorption every time you water.
- Use a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass and use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
- Position sprinklers so they’re not watering driveways and walkways.
- Make sure you know where your master water shut-off valve is located. This could save gallons of water and damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.
- Fix leaky faucets. A steady faucet drip can waste 20 gallons of water a day.
- Adjust your lawnmower to cut grass to a height of 3 inches or more. Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.
- Encourage your employer to promote water conservation in the workplace.
- Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save 4 gallons a minute. That’s 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
- Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
- Start a compost pile or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal, which requires a lot of water to work properly.
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
- Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for use on plants.
- Don’t install or use fountains or other water ornaments unless they use recycled water.
- Avoid overseeding your lawn with winter grass. Once established, ryegrass needs water every three to five days, whereas dormant Bermuda grass needs water only once a month.
- Stick to the watering schedule during the summer, and turn off your irrigation system in winter.
- Wash vegetables and fruits in a bowl or basin using a vegetable brush; don’t let the water run.
- Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid overwatering.
- When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
- Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
- Take a 5 minute shower or a 6-inch-deep bath.
- If you own a pool, use a cover to reduce evaporation.
- While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
- Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
- Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.
- Turn the water off while you shampoo and condition your hair and you can save more than 50 gallons a week.
- Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed waste water for irrigation and other uses.
- Get involved in water management issues. Voice your questions and concerns at public meetings conducted by your local government or water management district.