So there’s this drought thing happening here in California, and apparently it’s not going away for some time. We at Placer Land Trust know that the land we conserve depends on water—as do the ranchers, growers, and beekeepers who work it. With that in mind, we offer these easy-peasy tips for the resisting the tap.
1. Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth saves nearly two gallons of water per brush. If you’re a family of four, and you each brush your teeth twice a day … well, you can do the math. It adds up.
2. Give up the bath. A bath requires about 40 gallons of water, while a five-minute shower uses 10 gallons of water. If, like mine, your children resist the shower, consider a shallow tubby.
3. I happen to require more than five minutes for my daily wash up, much to my husband’s chagrin. If this sounds like you, consider installing a shower shut-off valve ($15 at Home Depot) so you can turn off the water while you soap and shave, and the temperature won’t change.
4. Install a low-flow shower head ($6-$40). Word on the street is that these new-fangled, low-flow shower heads provide what feels like a full blast of water rather than the spit in your eye of the days of yore.
5. Everyone knows the importance of washing full loads, but you might also consider switching to low-water appliances. A standard washing machine uses about 45 gallons of water. A high- efficiency machine uses as few as 15 gallons of water per wash. Also, an older dishwasher uses up to 15 gallons of water per wash, while a new Energy Star machine uses as few as three. Either one of these options is better that non-efficient hand-washing which uses as much as 27 gallons of water. If you’re in the market, check out these PG&E rebates. If switching appliances isn’t in the budget right now, consider high-efficiency dish washing by hand and washing your clothes less often.
6. You know the saying: If it’s yellow, let it mellow. I know. Not everyone is comfortable with not flushing. If you fall into this category, you might consider installing a low-flow toilet, which can save nearly six gallons per flush. This doesn’t sound like much until you consider how many times that toilet is flushed each day. In fact, switching to a low-flow toilet can save as much as 10,000 gallons per person, per year, according to the Regional Water Providers Consortium.
7. If it takes a few minutes for your hot water to make its way to the tap, collect that unused cold water while you’re waiting for the hot, and use it to fill the dog bowl or water the plants.
8. Learn how to read your water meter. It’s helpful for detecting leaks.
9. Give up the grass: Consider replacing your thirsty grass with drought-tolerant plants. This is called xeriscape, and surprise! It’s not just for cactus anymore. If you must have grass, let it grow a bit longer between mowings, so it won’t require as much water.
10. Always use a hose with a nozzle or a drip system for watering the garden, and water at night so the water is absorbed into the ground and not evaporating in the sunlight.
11. Resist the urge to wash your car. If you must wash, use a hose with a nozzle and skip the pre-rinse.
12. Consider collecting rainwater to re-use for outdoor watering. There’s some confusion about the legalities of collecting the rain, but it is allowed in California, so get yourself a barrel and be prepared for the next storm, whenever, if ever, that may be.
We love to hear from our readers. Have a handy tip for saving water? Share it in the comments.