10 plus Ways to Conserve Water
Can you provide some tips for conserving water?
- Landscape irrigation
- Hosing down walks and drives
- Washing automobiles and other vehicles
- Clothes washing
- Swimming pool water-level maintenance
- Toilet flushing
- Water heater over-heating
- Pressure regulators set too high
Obviously, it is crucial to cut down on landscape irrigation and vehicle washing. And, hopefully, at least in drought conditions, eliminate all washing at exterior surfaces of the house and around the house.
Dishwashing and rinsing should be done in containers or plugged sinks, but not with running water. If you have a dishwasher, pre-wash your dishes if possible, and don’t use secondary rinse cycles. Never, never run a load unless the machine is completely full.
For clothes washing, cut down on recommended detergent levels (approximately 20%), and eliminate extra rinses. Use completely full loads or adjust the water level (if your machine allows).
Swimming pools are a big water-waster, primarily because of surface evaporation caused by a combination of warm water and wind. This can be reduced by turning off the pool heater and by using a pool cover. The pool cover diminishes the rate of evaporation and will keep the pool comfortably warm as well. You not only will conserve water, but cut the energy used by your pool heater as well.
Toilet flushing is another water-waster. New toilet tanks are constructed to use about 1.28 gallons of water per flush, as opposed to the old ones that used as many as four gallons. The old brick-in-the-tank trick solved tank water waste, but, in some cases the brick dissolved slightly, causing clogs in the siphon holes at the inside of the rim. Ensuring that the siphon jets remain open and clear is very important (mineral salts from water build up can clog them too). Clear jets will deliver optimum performance with a minimum of water. Additionally, if you hear water running in your tank, it may be time to adjust the float or replace the “flapper” at the tank throat.
Showering can be done military style: wet down, soap up, rinse off. But less radical water-saving measures are available. Modern shower heads are inexpensive, easy to install, and contain flow regulators which disburse less water more efficiently. You also might investigate a flow-control lever for your shower head in addition to the typical spray control lever.
Water heating is an important issue. The hotter the water in your heater, the more cold water it will take to cool it in a mixing situation (i.e., clothes washer, shower, etc.). Bleed your water heater every six months or so. Air in the tank will cause over-heating, and may result in water being lost through the pressure overflow valve. The easiest way to bleed the water heater is to open the drain valve at the bottom until the water coming out stops sputtering. Usually two to three gallons are lost. A bucket, eye protection, rain gear and heavy rubber gloves will help. Remember the water that will burst out is hot.
Another wonderful way to save water is to precisely control water pressure as it enters your home. This, appropriately enough, is done with a water pressure regulator. If you have a regulator, adjust it so that the pressure does not exceed 60 lbs. If you don’t, buy a water pressure gauge ($12) with a garden-hose fitting. Hand screw it onto the faucet closest to where the main water line enters your home. Turn the faucet on with the gauge in place and read the number behind the needle. Regulator or no, it is wise to make this pressure check. High water pressure is not only wasteful, but can do damage to dishwashers and washing machines. Many appliance warranties are voided when pressure exceeds 100 lbs. Unfortunately, hiring out the installation of a water pressure regulator can cost several hundred dollars.
We all know that if we don’t use our dish or clothes washer without a full load, water will be wasted. And it goes without saying that conservation when washing our cars and watering our gardens makes even more sense when already precious H2O is in shorter supply than normal. Common sense and courtesy always have been the best solutions to any problem and we bet they’ll work for water conservation too.