For about $10 to $20 homeowners can install simple water-saving devices such as showerheads, toilet dams, and low-flow faucet aerators, and repair leaks. These actions can save a family of four 10,000 to 25,000 gallons of water every year.
SAVE WATER INDOORS
Water IQ - Saving Water Indoors (PDF)
Bathroom – About 75 percent of the water use in the home occurs in the bathroom.
- Installing a low-flow showerhead is the single most effective conservation step that can be taken inside the home, because low-flow showerheads use only 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less of water, compared to 3 to 5 gpm for older showerheads. Try taking a five to eight minute shower instead of a fifteen-minute shower.
- Toilet water use can be cut from 5 gallons per flush (gpf) to 1.28 gpf by installing a WaterSense labeled High Efficiency Toilet. BONUS - if your home was built before 1994, you may qualify for a rebate! If replacing your toilet is not an option, installing a device* like a toilet dam, plastic bottle, or plastic bag to displace water in the tank can reduce water use by up to 20%. [*Never use bricks as a displacement device in any fixture. They can crumble and damage the fixture.]
- Change your habits: The toilet is not a trash can! Instead of flushing tissues, cigarette butts, and other waste down the toilet, put these items in the trash can where they belong. Instead of letting the water run for hand washing, shaving, or brushing teeth, run the tap just to lather and rinse.
Kitchen – About 8 percent of in-home water use takes place in the kitchen.
- When hand-washing dishes or fruits and vegetables, fill a dishpan with water instead of letting the tap run continuously.
- Compost fruit and vegetable scraps in a compost bin instead of using the garbage disposal. You will not only save water, but you will gain a valuable soil amendment!
- Wash only full loads in the dishwasher. When buying a new dishwasher, consider purchasing a water-saving model.
Laundry – Laundry accounts for about 14% of home water use.
- Wash only full loads, or adjust the water level on your machine to match the size of your load (small, large, or extra-large).
- If you are willing to spend the money, consider upgrading to one of the new front-loading washing machines, which save water and energy, and even promise to do a better job of washing your clothes!
SAVE WATER OUTDOORS
Water IQ - Saving Water Outdoors (PDF)
Lawn watering and other outdoor uses account for up to 80 percent of home water use in the summer months. Much of this outdoor use is wasted through poor lawn watering practices like letting the water run onto the sidewalk or street.
Save Water in the Lawn – Many suburban lawns receive twice as much water than what is needed to maintain healthy grass!
- Give your lawn the “footprint test”: If footprints remain visible after walking on the lawn, or the grass has a dull green color or the blades are curled, the grass needs water.
- Water during the early morning (before 9:00 a.m.) or evening hours (after 8:00 p.m.), and don’t water on windy days. Evaporation losses are up to 60 percent higher during the day! Set sprinklers so that the lawn, not sidewalks and driveways, is watered.
- Avoid sprinklers that spray the water high into the air or produce a mist or fine spray, since much of that water is lost through evaporation.
About XeriscapeTM: XeriscapeTM is a landscaping technique that features efficient irrigation, soil improvement, and native or locally adapted plants that use less water. The seven principles of XeriscapeTM include:
- Planning and Design – Plan your Xeriscape to account for specific site conditions, such as existing soil conditions, drainage, intended use of site, and grouping of plant material.
- Soil Analysis – A soil analysis will provide information about nutrients and soil amendments the soil needs for optimum plant health.
- Appropriate Plant Selection –Install low maintenance, drought tolerant plants, and group plants of similar water needs together. Examples for the Brazos Valley include Texas sage, Yucca, crepe myrtles, Lantana, and native wildflowers.
- Practical Turf Areas - Turf provides many benefits in a landscape, but how and where turf is used can result in a significant reduction in water use. Turf should be placed so that it can be watered separately from other landscape plants.
- Use of Mulch - Mulch covers and shades the soil, minimizes evaporation, reduces weed growth, and adds a decorative appearance to the landscape. Examples of mulch include straw, leaves, wood chips, compost, and various rock and gravel products.
- Efficient Irrigation - Group plants with similar watering needs together. For example, grass is best watered with sprinklers, but trees, shrubs, and groundcovers can be watered efficiently with drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Water deeply, and only when plants need water, to encourage deep root growth. Do not water on windy days or during the heat of the day.
- Appropriate Landscape Maintenance – With efficient watering, appropriate plant selection, soil improvements, weeding, and fertilization as needed, maintenance of Xeriscape landscapes is easier and less expensive than traditional landscapes.
XeriscapeTM Copyright Information: Denver Water holds the copyright to the name “XeriscapeTM” and the Xeriscape logo.
LOOK FOR LEAKS – Unrepaired leaks can be costly, easily accounting for 10 percent or more of the water bill. They also waste both water and energy if the leak is from a hot water faucet.
- Use your water meter to check for “hidden” water leaks. Turn off all water outlets and water-using appliances, and record the reading from the water meter. Check the water meter again after 15 to 20 minutes. If the reading has changed, there is a leak somewhere in the plumbing system. A red spinning circle or a (+) sign on the face of the meter is an indication of a leak.
- A toilet with a silent leak of one cup of water a minute (a mere dribble) wastes about 2,700 gallons of water a month. To test for a toilet leak, mix a few drops of food coloring or place a dye tablet (available from many utilities and hardware stores) into the toilet tank. DO NOT flush the toilet. Wait about 10 minutes, and if any color appears in the toilet bowl, the toilet has a leak.
- Faucet leaks are usually caused by worn washers or "O" rings (for a washerless faucet) which can be replaced with two or three hand tools.
OTHER PLACES TO SAVE WATER
- Installing a low-flow faucet aerator can save up to one-half of the water used in the sink. Faucet aerators are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and can be found at most home improvement stores.
- Insulate hot water pipes where possible to avoid long delays (and wasted water) while waiting for the water to "run hot." Pipe insulation is inexpensive, easy to install, and available at plumbing and hardware stores.
- Cover hot tubs and pools to reduce evaporation losses.
- When washing a car or boat, use a bucket of soapy water for washing and a hose-end spray gun or nozzle with an automatic shut off for rinsing.
- Use a broom - not a hose - to clean the driveway, patio, sidewalk, or street.
These tips are provided from College Station Utilities, the Texas Water Development Board, and the American Water Works Association. For more information, please call College Station Utilities at (979) 764-3660.