SAVING WATER INDOORS
- Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.
- Verify that your home is leak-free, because many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
- Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year which will add to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or strain your septic system.
- Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain tank.)
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
- Take shorter showers. Replace you showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
- Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first and filling the tub only 1/3 full. Stopper tub before turning water. The initial burst of cold water can be warmed by adding hot water later.
- Don’t let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.
- Retrofit all wasteful household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
- Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using.
- When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
- Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.
- Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.
- Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste instead of using a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals also can add 50% to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to malfunctions and maintenance problems.
- Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce heating costs for your household.
- Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.
- Never install a water-to-air heat pump or air-conditioning system. Air-to-air models are just as efficient and do not waste water.
- Install water softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness. Turn softeners off while on vacation.
- Check your pump. If you have a well at your home, listen to see if the pump kicks on and off while the water is not in use. If it does, you have a leak.
- When adjusting water temperatures, instead of turning water flow up, try turning it down. If the water is too hot or cold, turn the offender down rather than increasing water flow to balance the temperatures.
- If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
SAVING WATER OUTDOORS
- Don’t over water your lawn. As a general rule, lawns only need watering every 5 to 7 days in the summer and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for as long as two weeks. Plant it smart, Xeriscape. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plantings and irrigation system that will save you time, money and water. For your free copy of “Plant it Smart,” an easy-to-use guide to Xeriscape landscaping, contact your Sanitary District. For more info about Xeriscape in North Carolina visit this site.
- Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation.
- Don’t water your street, driveway or sidewalk. Position your sprinklers so that your water lands on the lawn and shrubs … not the paved areas.
- Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.
- Regularly check sprinkler systems and timing devices to be sure they are operating properly. It is now the law that “anyone who purchases and installs an automatic lawn sprinkler system MUST install a rain sensor device or switch which will override the irrigation cycle of the sprinkler system when adequate rainfall has occurred.” To retrofit your existing system, contact an irrigation professional for more information.
- Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a closely-clipped lawn.
- Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. The application of fertilizers increases the need for water. Apply fertilizers which contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
- Mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulching also helps to control weeds that compete with pants for water.
- Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need to be watered as frequently and they usually will survive a dry period without any watering. Group plans together based on similar water needs.
- Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom to clean leaves and other debris from these areas. Using a hose to clean a driveway can waste hundreds of gallons of water.
- Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle which can be adjusted down to fine spray so that water flows only as needed. When finished, “Turn it Off” at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.
- Use hose washers between spigots and water hoses to eliminate leaks.
- Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hoses can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.
- Check all hoses, connectors and spigots regularly.
- Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass to do so.
- Avoid the installation of ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless the water is recycled. Locate where there are mineral losses due to evaporation and wind drift.
- If you have a swimming pool, consider a new water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses from l80 to 250 gallons or more of water.
GENERAL WATER SAVING TIPS
- Create an awareness of the need for water conservation among your children. Avoid the purchase of recreational water toys which require a constant stream of water.
- Be aware of and follow all water conservation and water shortage rules and restrictions which may be in effect in your area.
- Encourage your employer to promote water conservation at the workplace. Suggest that water conservation be put in the employee orientation manual and training program.
- Patronize businesses which practice and promote water conservation.
- Report all significant water losses (broken pipes, open hydrants, errant sprinklers, abandoned free-flowing wells, etc.) to the property owner, local authorities or your Sanitary District.
- Encourage your school system and local government to help develop and promote a water conservation ethic among children and adults.
- Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed waste water for irrigation and other uses.
- Support efforts and programs to create a concern for water conservation among tourists and visitors to our state. Make sure your visitors understand the need for, and benefits of, water conservation.
- Encourage your friends and neighbors to be part of a water conscious community. Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bulletin boards and by example.
- Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don’t waste water just because someone else is footing the bill such as when you are staying at a hotel.
- Try to do one thing each day that will result in a savings of water. Don’t worry if the savings is minimal. Every drop counts. And every person can make a difference. So tell your friends, neighbors and co-workers to “Turn it Off” and “Keep it Off”.
- The above tips provided by the America Water & Energy Savers
EPA Sites of Interest on Conservation Techniques
- Water Conservation – With the U.S. population doubling over the past 50 years, our thirst for water tripling, and at least 36 states facing water shortages by 2013, the need to conserve water is becoming more and more critical. Because EPA recognizes the importance of responsibly managing our water resources, the Agency is integrating water management best practices at its facilities.
- More Information on Water Conservation – For more information about water conservation, see the Related Links page and consult the following resources:
- WaterSense® – WaterSense is a public-private partnership program sponsored by EPA. Its mission is to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products and services. Visit EPA’s WaterSense website for more information on this program and how it can help you save water for future generations.
- Landscape Water Conservation – The Water Efficient Landscape Planner was developed to explain the advantages and principles of water efficient landscaping. The program covers the basics of landscape planning and provides guidelines and suggestions to help users select the most appropriate plants for their needs. It is intended for use by homeowners who are considering changes to residential landscaping.
More Sites about Water Conservation for Commercial and Residential Customers
- Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional (CII) Task Force – California Urban Water Conservation Council
- ICI Water Conservation Case Studies – Southwest Florida Water Management District
- Opportunities for ICI Audits – Institutional, Commercial, and Industrial (ICI) water use in Georgia
- Thames Water – England
- Water Efficiency Manual for ICI Facilities (pdf) – North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
- Drop by Drop, A How-To Guide: Starting a Water Conservation Program – Iowa City/Coralville, IA
- A Green Home is a Healthy Home – Water Conservation – National Wildlife Federation
- How to Become Water Wise – Helping people to be wise with water use
- 100 Ways To Conserve [Water] – The Water – Use It Wisely campaign
- Water Conservation Measures (A Consumer’s FYI) – A NATIONAL DRINKING WATER CLEARINGHOUSE FACT SHEET
- Green Building and Water Efficiency Introduction – The Alliance for Water Efficiency
- Water Conservation Tips – Clark County Public Utilities, WA
- Household Waste Management – Recycling and Household Waste
- Water Conservation Tips – Fairfax County Water Authority, VA
- Water Conservation Tips – Town of Cary, NC
- Water Conservation Tips – City of Raleigh, NC
- Annual Conservation Guide-2010 – United Water New York
- Learn water saving tips at the H2Ouse – California Urban Water Conservation Council
Check out these sites to learn a lot and test yourself on what you know.
- Click here for to link to the Groundwater Foundation’s Kid’s Corner page where you’ll discover interesting facts on groundwater, science fair projects and more.
Check out this link to the U.S. Geological Survey’s water activity center. You’ll find lots of interactive activities to test your water IQ.
Click here for EarthAware Personal Environmental Audit Software from Don Lotter, 1995. An oldie but goodie!
Click here to enter the nonprofit National Energy Foundation’s educational site entitled “Learning to Be Water Wise.” It’s a fun-filled site that includes tests, facts, contests and much more.
- The U.S. EPA has a new section devoted to students. It includes lots of activities and fun projects.
Click here for National Listing of Fish Consumption Advisories a database that includes all available information describing state-, tribal-, and federally issued fish consumption advisories in the continental United States, four U.S. Territories, and 12 Canadian provinces and territories.