Water Saving Tips
- Fix leaking faucets and toilets. It’s easy and could save your family thousands of gallons of water per year. In fact, studies estimate those drips and leaks add up to about 10 percent of all indoor water use.
- Test your toilet for leaks. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait 15-20 minutes. If you see color in the bowl, you have a leak. The most common source of leaks is a faulty flapper valve.
- Adjust the float device in your toilet so the water shuts off about an inch below the overflow tube. Water pressure has a tendency to increase at night, when water use is low. Increased pressure can cause “water creep” inside your tank, raising the water level by a half-inch or more and causing continuous running of the toilet.
- Replace older toilets. Toilets sold before 1992 use about 3 1/2 or more gallons of water per flush. Most toilets in homes today use 1.6 gallons per flush, but newer high-efficiency models sold in stores now use 1.28 gallons or less. Replacing older toilets with high efficiency models could lower your home’s water use by 15 percent.
- Aim at the wastebasket, not the toilet (when you want to throw something away, that is). Those extra flushes waste water and money.
- Take a shower instead of a bath. A bath can use more than twice as much water as a 10-minute shower.
- Then, cut a couple of minutes off your shower time. That’ll save about four gallons per shower. If you shower once a day, that adds up to 1,460 gallons of water a year. If everyone in a family of four cut back, they would save about 5,840 gallons a year.
- Switch to low-flow showerheads. They use 2.5 gallons of water per minute or less. To see if you have one, place a five-gallon bucket in your shower to capture the flow. Turn the shower on for two minutes. If the bucket overflows, replace the showerhead.
- Install aerators on your faucets. These inexpensive items mix air into the flow while maintaining the pressure. You won’t notice the difference, but you’ll cut your faucet water use in half.
- Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving. Running the faucet for a couple of minutes while you’re not using the water wastes two or more gallons.
- Load up the dishwasher. Waiting until you have full loads saves water and energy.
- Don’t rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Scraping instead of rinsing dishes before you load them can save you 10 or more gallons of water per load.
- When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running while you wash. Fill the second side of the sink with rinse water instead. Besides, you’re fighting a losing battle when you compare washing those dinner dishes by hand (16-25 gallons) with today’s energy efficient dishwashers (4-7 gallons).
- Feed the compost pile, not the garbage disposal. Place food scraps in a container near the sink for later composting. If you do use a disposal, use it less often.
- Install an aerator on your faucet. It will mix air into the flow, while maintaining the pressure. It’s inexpensive. You won’t notice the difference in the water flow, but you’ll cut your faucet water use in half.
Outdoor Water Saving Tips
Below are some tips for saving water on the lawn:
- Give the sprinkler a rest sometimes. In Texas, we tend to water our lawns much too often for much too long. Leave your lawn alone once in a while and it will do fine—maybe even better.
- Don’t water between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Up to 30 percent of the water sprayed on lawns during the heat of the day can be lost to evaporation. So it’s much cooler to water when it’s cooler.
- Inch toward conservation. Apply no more than an inch of water to your lawn per week during the summer. That will encourage deeper root systems and make for healthier grass.
- Remember to cut back on your irrigation frequency in the fall and winter. Lawns don’t need as much water during the cooler seasons. Applying about an inch every two weeks in the fall, and even less in the winter, should be plenty.
- Cycle and soak to avoid runoff. It takes a while for water to soak into our North Texas clay soils. Rather than running your spray heads for long periods of time, try running zones in shorter bursts, with one hour between cycles. That’ll give the water time to soak in instead of running off.
- Be sensitive – use rain and freeze sensors. They will trigger automatic sprinkler systems to shut off during downpours or when temperatures dip near freezing. And they could reduce your outdoor water use by 5 to 10 percent.
- Turn your system off after a good rain. Why duplicate what Mother Nature just provided for free? Even better—turn your sprinkler system off and water only as needed.
- Install a “smart” controller: that’s an irrigation clock that automatically adjusts run times in response to weather conditions.
- Check your irrigation system regularly. Fix leaks or damaged sprinkler heads and make sure they’re aimed at the landscape, not the street or sidewalk.
- Don’t be a scalper. Taller grass holds moisture better and slows down evaporation. Leaving lawn clippings on your lawn does the same and also returns valuable nutrients to the soil.
Tips for saving water around the yard:
- Water by the drop using drip irrigation for flowerbeds, ground cover, vegetable gardens and container plants. A drip system saves water by allowing you to target water at or near plant root zones. If you already have spray heads in place, you can use adapters to convert from spray to drip.
- Replace that thirsty turf. Replacing little-used areas of your lawn with other types of landscaping and water-stingy plants will lower your outdoor watering needs.
- Add some mulch to the mix. A three-to-four inch layer of mulch, like bark or wood chips, in flower beds or around trees and shrubs will help retain moisture and limit weed growth.
- Grow native. Native and adapted plants thrive on less water, can take the Texas heat and are easier to maintain. Find more information.
- Take your car to a car wash that uses a water recycling system. If you do wash your car at home use a bucket of water and a hose with a nozzle on it, to stop the flow between rinsing.
- Break out the broom. Hosing down your driveway and sidewalk uses about five gallons of water a minute. Sweeping is much less wasteful, and who can’t use the exercise?
- Cool Trick - Use your water meter to check for leaks. Turn off all fixtures and note the meter reading. Keep the water off for a couple of hours, then check to see if the meter reading has changed. If it has, you have a leak. Common sources of leaks are toilets, dripping faucets and sprinkler systems.