Water Conservation Tips
For approximately $10 to $20, the average homeowner can install two low-flow showerheads, install aerators on the faucets, and repair dripping faucets and leaking toilets. This could save 10,000 to more than 25,000 gallons per year for a family of four, and would pay for itself in less than a year! Even more could be saved if good outdoor water conservation is practiced for the lawn and garden.
Indoor Conservation Tips
In the Bathroom…
Install a low-flow showerhead that limits the flow from the shower to less than three gallons per minute.
Take shorter showers and install a cutoff valve, or turn the water off while washing and back on again only to rinse.
Take a shower instead of taking a bath. If a shower is not available, reduce the level of the water being used in a bathtub by one or two inches if a shower is not available.
Test toilets for leaks. Add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet to the water in the tank, but do not flush the toilet. Watch to see if the coloring appears in the bowl within a few minutes. If it does, the toilet has a silent leak that needs to be repaired.
Turn the faucet off while shaving or brushing teeth.
Replace older toilets with newer more water efficient models, or consider using a toilet water displacement device.
Do not use your toilet as a trash can.
In the Kitchen…
Install faucet aerators to reduce water consumption
Scrape the dishes clean instead of rinsing them before washing. There is no need to rinse unless they are heavily soiled.
Use a pan of water (or place a stopper in the sink) for washing and rinsing pots, pans, dishes and cooking implements, rather than turning on the water faucet each time a rinse is needed.
Never run the dishwasher without a full load. This practice will save water, energy, detergent and money.
Use the garbage disposal sparingly or compost your organic waste.
Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator. Running water from the tap until it is cool is wasteful.
Use a small pan of cold water when cleaning vegetables or produce, rather than letting the water run over them.
In the Laundry…
Wash only a full load when using an automatic washing machine (normally 32 to 59 gallons are required per load).
Whenever possible, use the lowest water-level setting on the washing machine for light or partial loads.
Use cold water as often as possible to save energy and to conserve the hot water for uses that cold water cannot serve. (This is also better for clothing made of today’s synthetic fabrics.)
Replace older units with newer, high efficient, water-saving models.
Check all water-line connections and faucets for leaks. A slow drip can waste as much as 170 gallons of water EACH DAY, or 5,000 gallons per month, and will add to the water bill.
Learn to repair faucets so that drips can be corrected promptly. It is easy to do, costs very little, and can mean a substantial savings in the plumbing and water bills.
Check for hidden water leakage such as a leak between the water meter and the house. To check, turn off all indoor and outdoor faucets and water-using appliances. The water meter should be read at 10 to 20 minute intervals. If it continues to run or turn, a leak probably exists and needs to be located.
Insulate all hot water pipes to reduce the delays (and wasted water) while waiting for the water to "run hot."
Be sure the water heater thermostat is not set too high. Extremely hot settings waste water and energy because the water often has to be cooled with cold water before it can be used.
Outdoor Conservation Tips
Water your lawn or landscape early in the morning (before 10 am) or late in the afternoon (after 6 pm) to avoid loosing water to evaporation.
Do not over water your lawn. Texas soils can only absorb so much moisture and the rest runs off, wasting water. During summer months, applying one inch of water every 7 days should be enough to encourage a deep root system and healthy lawn. Also, during winter months reduce your watering frequency to once every 15 to 20 days.
Water only when needed. If it rains, you do not have to water your lawn. To better track rainfall, buy a rain gauge.
If you have an automated sprinkler system, adjust the heads to water the landscape not the pavement. Check your system regularly for leaks or broken or misdirected spray heads.
Install and maintain rain and freeze sensors.
To avoid excessive evaporation, use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water, rather than a fine mist. Sprinklers that send droplets out on a low angle also help control evaporation.
Set automatic sprinkler systems to provide thorough, but infrequent watering. Pressure regulating devices should be set to design specifications. Rain shutoff devices can prevent watering in the rain.
Use drip irrigation systems for beding plants, trees or shrubs, or run soaker hoses upside down so that holes are on the bottom. This will help avoid evaporation.
Water slowly for better absorption, and never water on windy days.
Condition the soil with mulch or compost before planting grass or flowerbeds so that water will soak in rather than run off.
Fertilize lawns at least twice a year for root stimulation, but do not over fertilize. Grass with a good root system makes better use of less water and is more drought-tolerant.
Do not scalp lawns when mowing during hot weather. Taller grass holds moisture better. Grass should be cut fairly often, so that only 1/2 to 3/4 inch is trimmed off. A better looking lawn will result.
Use a watering can or hand water with the hose in small areas of the lawn that need more frequent watering (those near walks or driveways or in especially hot, sunny spots).
Use water-wise plants. Learn what types of grass, shrubbery and plants do best in the area and in which parts of the lawn, and then plant accordingly. Choose plants that have low water requirements, are drought-tolerant and are adapted to the area of the state where they are to be planted.
Consider decorating some areas of the lawn with wood chips, rocks, gravel or other materials now available that require no water at all.
To learn more about watering more efficiently and operating your automatic sprinkler system: Irrigation Tips Video