As stewards of our own valuable local water resource, we have a responsibility to protect and use it wisely. Conserving water also helps save money, the more wisely you use water, the more you get out of each gallon that you purchase. This means you pay less without sacrificing any of the benefits.
The first step to save water is to see if you are losing water to hidden leaks by doing a water meter test. Leaks can waste a great deal of water and can increase your water bill. To check for a leak in your home, turn off all the water fixtures, and then check the water meter. Note the reading on the water meter and wait for 20 minutes to a half hour without turning on any faucets or flush any toilets. After waiting, go back and check the meter again. If the dials or the numbers on your meter have changed, you have a leak.
We have tips to help you save water and money in your home, both indoors and outdoors in ways that won't impact the way you live.
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Be Water Wise
Home Indoor Water Saving Tips
Toilets account for almost 30% of the water we use in our homes, toilets installed before 1994 use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush, and as much as 20 gallons per person per day. To make matters worse, 20% of all toilets leak. By replacing an old toilet with a new ultra low-flow model that uses only 1.6 gallons per flush, the average home can save 7,900 gallons or more of water per year.
If you can't replace the toilet right away, install a toilet tank "dam" in the toilet tank so that a part of the tank can't fill with water. You can buy them at most hardware stores or you can make one yourself. Just fill an empty soda pop bottle or a half-gallon size plastic milk carton with water and set it inside the toilet tank where it won't interfere with any of the moving parts. Now your toilet tank will use less water at each flush.
At least 20% of all toilets leak and you should check yours every two to three months. The San Bernardino Municipal Water Department has free leak detector tablets that you can use to see if your toilet leaks. Call us and we will send a package to your home. Just drop the one leak detector tablet in the tank, and then watch the bowl without flushing. If any of the colored dye shows up in the bowl, you have a leak at the flapper that is costing you money and wasting water. You can get new flappers at the local hardware store and install it yourself, or you can call a plumber to do the job.
Following these steps can save you money and helps conserve water and of course, you should never use the toilet as a trash can.
Doing laundry uses as much as 30-35 gallons per load, or 22%of the average household's water. When possible wait for a full load of laundry before running the washing machine. If you can't wait, always make sure to select the correct water level for each load. Newer models of washing machines also do a better job of cleaning your clothes using less water and when you start shopping for one, remember that a front-loading washing machine uses about 1/3 less water than a top-loading machine.
Almost 20% of the water we use in the home is used for showers and bathing. Conventional showerheads deliver 5 to 8 gallons of water per minute (gpm). The next time you are in a grocery store, count out 8 gallons of milk and that will show you how much water gets used in a shower in just 1 minute.
For about $20 you can replace your conventional showerhead with a low-flow showerhead that uses 2.5 gpm or less. Doing this can save 25-75% of the water you use in the shower. To see if you should replace your showerhead, turn your shower on all the way and hold a 1-gallon bucket where it will catch all the water. If the bucket fills up in less than 20 seconds, you should replace the showerhead with a low-flow head. You can use a plastic 1-gallon milk carton, too, if you cut a hole in the top just large enough to catch the water close to the showerhead.
Even with a low-flow showerhead, shortening the time you spend in the shower can also save lots of water. The water savings by shortening your shower time by a few minutes every day adds up to great savings over a year. If you want to see big savings, try a taking a navy shower: turn the shower on just long enough to get wet, the turn the shower off. Soap up and wash, then turn the shower back on just long enough to rinse and then turn the water off. Many low-flow showerheads now have features that let you adjust and even turn off the showerhead without changing the temperature.
Because most of us like to take hot showers, they account for a lot of the electricity or natural gas that we use in the home as well. By reducing the amount of water you use in the shower you can also help reduce your home energy bill.
Other Water Saving Tips
Your dishwasher uses the same amount of water when it runs whether it is full or just partially full of dishes, so be sure to fill it. Many dishwashers have a water saver cycle to save even more water.
Keep a bottle of tap water in your refrigerator instead of letting the water run until it cools down. Running faucets waste 3 to 7 gallons of water per minute. Besides, a fuller refrigerator runs more efficiently than a less full one, saving you money there, too.
Look for and fix leaky faucets and pipes in the house. Leaks account for 13% of the water used in the average home.
Before rinsing, put the sink stopper in place instead of running the water. If you need to use the garbage disposal, release the used sink water as the disposal is turned on.
When defrosting food, plan ahead to thaw it in the refrigerator or microwave oven instead of under running water.
Use fish tank water on your household plants. Besides saving water, it's a good fertilizer as well.
Insulate your water heater and your water pipes to reduce the time it takes to get hot water to the faucet
Outdoor Water Saving Tips
Yards and Gardens
Gardening and landscaping can use up to one half of the water that the average home uses. Start to save water in the yard and garden by collecting information about your landscaping and its watering needs.
Shaded areas of your yard need less water than the non-shaded parts and the level parts of your yard need less water than hillsides. Trees, shrubs and flowers take less water than grass and they each need a different watering pattern. Some need to be watered only once a month, and most need water delivered slowly and infrequently to encourage root health. Different soil types need differing amounts of water. Sandy soil drains well but doesn't hold water very well, while clay-type soils hold water but don't drain well. Use lots of mulch around flowers, shrubs and trees to help keep the soil moist.
The public library has books that can tell you how much water your plants need and how often they need it. You can get the information you need about the plants in your yard at the local library, or you can ask the folks at your local gardening store or nursery. They will also have tools for measuring the moisture in your water. These tools will help you learn how long your soil will hold the water you give your plants so that you can decide how frequently you should water, and the best way to deliver it.
Drip irrigation systems use water the most effectively. Water is delivered slowly and in amounts that will trickle down to the roots before it evaporates. Your local hardware or garden store can show you how to install and use a system that's right for you and your yard using the information you collect. The time of day that you water is also important. Water before 9:00 A.M. or after 6:00 P.M. to help reduce water loss to evaporation. Whether you water in the morning or the evening, look at the weather conditions. On windy days, you lose much more of your water to evaporation. If it is rainy, put off watering and take advantage of what Mother Nature is giving you for free. Make sure you check your irrigation system regularly and frequently to check for leaks and to make sure you aren't watering places that don't need it like the sidewalk or street.
Additional Water Saving Tips
In rainy weather, consider using a rain barrel. Put a barrel, usually available at your local hardware store, under a rain gutter to catch the water flowing down from a roof. Then use this water on your houseplants, gardens, or even for your pets.
Washing your car can also be a water-loss culprit. When possible, put off washing the car just a little longer, and use a nozzle on the hose that lets you stop the water flow when you don't need it. Using a high-pressure nozzle also helps save water.
Washing driveways uses a lot of water. When ever possible, sweep your driveways and sidewalk.
If you own a pool or sauna, keep it covered when you aren't using it to reduce evaporation.
Cut the grass to two inches or more and leave the clippings to provide nutrients and preserve moisture.
Following these steps can help you save water and reduce your water bill while making the water you use more effective.