Ten ways to conserve water

CN&R’s tips for cutting down your consumption

Every time you turn on the tap, there’s potential to waste water. Whether you’re reaching for the faucet in the bathroom or kitchen or the spigot out in the yard, be mindful each and every time you use water. But conservation goes beyond the faucet, too. Here are everyday ways you can cut your water use.

1. In the bathroom. Don’t waste water by letting the shower steam up the room before you hop in. There’s no need to run water while brushing your teeth. Same goes for shaving. Fill the sink with a few inches of water to rinse your razor. As for showers, take shorter ones. Keep in mind that a four-minute rinse uses 20 to 40 gallons. Make your own low-flush toilet by filling a half-gallon plastic bottle with water and pebbles and placing it in the tank. The weighted bottle will displace water, saving gallons each day.

2. In the kitchen. Cut down on using your garbage disposal. Running it wastes a lot of water. Plus, much of what’s going down the drain can go into a compost pile or the garbage can. Doing dishes by hand is also wasteful if you’re letting water run the whole time. Instead, soak and scrub the dishes in a sink filled with hot soapy water. Afterward, place them in a dish rack and rinse them with a sink sprayer. Or, if you have dual sinks, use one side for soapy water and the other for rinse water.

3. Doing laundry. Do a large load rather than multiple small loads. Using cold water also saves. And consider hooking up a split line, so that you can divert graywater to trees, shrubs and other plants. Always use eco-friendly detergent brands.

4. At the hose. Grab a broom, rather than a hose, to sweep patios, walkways and driveways. Likewise, use a bucket of soapy water to wash your vehicles, and rinse them with a spray nozzle. Park your car on the lawn to water it at the same time. Or, better yet, save more water by heading to a commercial car-washer. Bathe your pets outside in a trough and dump the rinse water on thirsty plants.

5. About that lawn. Let it go dormant in the wintertime. During summer, water in the early morning to avoid evaporation. Water only as needed. Keep the grass mowed at a height no shorter than 2 inches and leave the clippings on the lawn to hold in moisture.

6. Creative landscaping. Consider going without a lawn or reducing its size. Get creative with drought-resistant and shade-providing trees, as well as other native drought-tolerant greenery. Integrate stone and brick and other design elements into the landscaping for a one-of-a-kind look. Install drip-irrigation in place of sprinklers, when possible. Use mulch to retain moisture around plants.

7. Save the rain. Consider setting up a rainwater-catchment device. It’s basically a barrel that attaches to the rain gutter. The idea is to capture runoff for reuse later in your yard or garden.

8. Make the switch. If you can afford it, swap out dated, water-guzzling appliances and hardware for new water-saving and energy-efficient models. Front-loading washing machines save 20 gallons, on average, per load. Dishwashers are more efficient than handwashing. Low-flow and dual-flush toilets are water-savers. Low-flow shower heads are great, too, and they’re inexpensive. But if you cannot afford one, Cal Water will provide not one, but two, in its conservation kit. It includes other items, such as a hose nozzle, too.

9. Check for leaks. One easy way to conserve water is to simply check your home for leaky pipes and faucets. Those drips add up to a whole lot of water over time. Repairing them will not only conserve water, but also money.

10. Buy used. Water is used in the manufacturing of goods, so curbing the amount of products you purchase, from plastic to steel, will greatly reduce your water footprint. One way to do this is to purchase used items. So, go out and spend your dough at thrift and antique stores whenever possible. Recycling also reduces water consumption.