Water Saving Tips
from Durham People’s Alliance member Laura Drey:
Ways that will save the most water:
- Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. This could save you as much as 2.5 gallons every minute you shower. Saves 500 to 800 gallons per month.
- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. Saves 300 to 800 gallons per month. Or adjust the water level to reflect the size of the load.
- Take a short shower instead of a bath. While a five minute shower uses a 12 to 25 gallons, a full tub requires about 70 gallons. Shorten your showers. Even a one or two minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month.
- Capture tap water. While you wait for hot water to come down the pipes (for a shower and washing dishes by hand,) catch the flow in a watering can to use later on house plants or your garden. Saves 200 to 300 gallons per month.
Save water indoors:
- Pay attention to your water bill and become familiar with your water meter—use them to track your water use and detect leaks.
- Fix leaky plumbing fixtures, faucets and appliances in the house.
- Purchase appliances that offer water- and energy-efficient cycle options (such as ultra low-flush toilets.)
In the bathroom:
- Put a plastic bottle or a plastic bag weighted with pebbles and filled with water in your toilet tank. Displacing water in this manner allows you to use less water with each flush. Saves 5 to 10 gallons a day. That’s up to 300 gallons a month, even more for large families. Better yet, for even greater savings, replace your water-guzzling five to seven gallon a flush toilet with a one and a half gallon, ultra-low flush model.
- Check toilet for leaks. Put dye tablets or food coloring into the tank. If color appears in the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak that should be repaired. Saves 400 gallons a month.
- Check to assure that your toilet’s flapper valve doesn’t stay open after flushing.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Saves three gallons each day.
- Turn off the water while shaving. Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of water to rinse your razor. Saves three gallons each day.
In the kitchen:
- If you wash dishes by hand -and that’s the best way–don’t leave the water running for rinsing. If you have two sinks, fill one with rinse water. If you only have one sink, use a spray device or short blasts instead of letting the water run. Saves 200 to 500 gallons a month. Let your pots and pans soak instead of letting the water run while you clean them.
- When washing dishes by hand, use the least amount of detergent possible. This minimizes rinse water needed. Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
- Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator. This beats the wasteful habit of running tap water to cool it for drinking. Saves 200 to 300 gallons a month.
- Don’t defrost frozen foods with running water. Either plan ahead by placing frozen items in the refrigerator overnight or defrost them in the microwave. Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
- Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Rinse them in a filled sink or pan.Saves 150 to 250 gallons a month.
- Use the garbage disposal less and the garbage more (even better–compost!). Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
- Purchase an instant water heater for your kitchen sink so you don’t waste water while it heats up.
- Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants. Chunks of bark, peat moss or gravel slows down evaporation. Saves 750 to 1,500 gallons a month. Create a compost pile and use it in your yard to add needed nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
- Set lawn mower blades one notch higher. Longer grass means less evaporation.Saves 500 to 1,500 gallons each month.
- Apply as little fertilizer to your lawn as possible. Applying excess fertilizer increases water consumption and actually creates more mowing for you! Use iron-based fertilizers to simply “green-up” your lawn instead.
- Use a rain barrel to collect water off the roof and use it to water plants and garden. Have an evaporative air conditioner? Direct the water drain line to a flower bed, tree base, or lawn.
- Xeriscape–replace your lawn and high-water-using trees and plants with less thirsty ones. But do this only in wet years. Even drought resistant plantings take extra water to get them going. That’ll save 750 to 1,500 gallons a month.
- Dispose of hazardous materials properly! One quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water, effectively eliminating that much water from our water supply.Contact your city or county for proper waste disposal options. And don’t flush prescription medications!
- Avoid bursting or freezing pipes by winterizing your outdoor spigots.
- If you have a pool, use a pool cover to cut down on evaporation. It will also keep your pool cleaner and reduce the need to add chemicals. Saves 1,000 gallons a month.
Other means for conserving water once water restrictions lifted:
- Water your lawn only when it needs it. Step on your grass. If it springs back, when you lift your foot, it doesn’t need water. So set your sprinklers for more days in between watering. Saves 750-1,500 gallons per month. Better yet, especially in times of drought, water with a hose. And best of all, convert your lawn to native plants.
- Water during the cool parts of the day. Avoid watering your landscape during the hottest hours of the day (10 am until 6 pm) to minimize evaporation. Early morning is better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Saves 300 gallons.
- Don’t water the lawn on windy days. There’s too much evaporation. Can waste up to 300 gallons in one watering.
- Cut down watering on cool and overcast days and don’t water in the rain. Adjust or deactivate automatic sprinklers. Can save up to 300 gallons each time.
- Don’t over-water your plants. Learn how much water they need and how best to apply just the right amount.
- Place a rain gauge in your backyard to monitor rainfall and irrigation.
- Install drip irrigation systems for trees, shrubs and flowers.
- Visually inspect your sprinkler system once a month during daylight hours. Check and fix any tilted, clogged or broken heads.
- Turn your sprinkler system off during or after a rainstorm and leave it off until the plants need to be watered again. Consider installing an automatic rain shutoff device on your sprinkler system.
- Don’t run the hose while washing your car. Use a bucket of water and a quick hose rinse at the end. Saves 150 gallons each time. For a two-car family that’s up to 1,200 gallons a month. When taking your car to a car wash–a good idea for saving water–be sure it’s one of the many that recycles its wash water.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. Saves 150 gallonsor more each time. At once a week, that’s more than 600 gallons a month.
- Don’t water the sidewalks, driveway or gutter. Adjust your sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden where it belongs–and only there. Saves 500 gallons per month.
- Tell your children not to play with the garden hose. Saves 10 gallons a minute. If you allow your children to play in the sprinklers, make sure it’s only when you’re watering the yard–if it’s not too cool at that time of day.