“Summer’s rising temperatures often coincide with rising outdoor water use, primarily due to an increase in lawn and landscape watering,” said WaterSense. “While using water efficiently is important throughout the year, sometimes the timing of water use can make a big difference for community water supplies – and your water bill.”
In most cases, there are easy fixes you can make to be more water efficient. Here are 8 you can incorporate into your daily habits immediately.
Turn off the faucet!
Did you know that you waste a good four gallons of water every time you leave the faucet running while you’re brushing your teeth? This one easy change can make a big difference in your water usage and conservation efforts.
Check the toilets
“It may seem like a slow drip, but those drips add up to gallons faster than you might realize,” said Maximum Yield. “To diagnose a silent toilet leak, place food coloring in your toilet tank and wait to see if the color makes it into the bowl. If you see color seeping in, it’s time for a fix.”
Set a timer
Have kids (or spouses) that take impossibly long showers? Even cutting back on a couple a week can dramatically curb your water usage. Shave off two minutes to save as much as 1,750 gallons of water per person a year! Set a 10-minute timer on a waterproof shower clock so your water-wasting offender can see how much time they have left to rinse, lather, and repeat.
Use the dishwasher
Here’s a surprising fact: You actually use far more water handwashing dishes than if you run the dishwasher. How much more? “Doing a full load in your machine is far more efficient than washing the same number of dishes by hand,” said This Old House. “This is especially true if you have an Energy Star dishwasher, which requires an average of four gallons of water per load, compared with the 24 gallons it takes to do them in the sink. Using one will save you 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time each year.”
Go to the car wash
Yes, you can save a few bucks by washing your car at home. But if you think you’re saving water, too, this may come as a shock: You use two and a half times more water handwashing the car than you would at the car wash!
Check your sprinklers
Malfunctioning sprinklers could be costing you money and wasting water. Sprinkler heads that don’t properly deliver an even spray could cause parts of your lawn to die. If the heads don’t lower properly, they can be damaged or broken easily.
You may also be overwatering. “If the environmental argument for conserving water doesn’t appeal to you, here’s a financial one: According to the city of Cleveland, the average cost of water starts at around $13 per 1,000 gallons,” said Schill Grounds Management. “This may not seem like a ton of money, but volume quickly adds up when you’re irrigating a large property. At this rate, the average sprinkler spraying just one zone it shouldn’t be for 12 minutes/day at 12 gallons/minute can waste over $680 per year! The simple truth is that only annuals need to be watered daily. Trees, shrubs, and turf can all be watered less frequently for massive water savings.”
A check of your system could save you money and hassle.
Water in the morning or at night
Letting your sprinklers go during the hottest time of the day minimizes the benefit of watering. “Water evaporates quickly when the sun is high, so sprinkle when it’s more likely to stay in the soil,” said the National Resources Defense Council(NRDC). “And make sure you’re watering your yard, not the sidewalk or driveway. A drip irrigation system works better than sprinklers, as it sends targeted amounts of water exactly where you want it. Check to see if you qualify for a rebate to make your irrigation system more water efficient.”
Mulch doesn’t just make your yard look fresh, but it also helps keep moisture in. “Mulched gardens are healthier, have fewer weeds, and are more drought-resistant than unmulched gardens,” said Good Housekeeping. For the best results, consider rubber mulch. “Rubber is a step up from the bark-like texture you’re probably used to seeing,” said HGTV. “Made from 100-percent recycled tires, rubber mulch is suitable to use on most landscapes. It has several benefits: a safe play surface for children, prevents weeds, does not attract insects and water and air can easily flow through it.”