After Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency, its time you got serious about water conservation. Does this mean we all now must to take five minute showers instead of 20 minute showers? Ugh, possibly, yes. For more tips on how to conserve water during this State of Emergency, below we noted suggestions care of Save Our Water, a statewide program that helps Californians reduce their water use.
- Use the washing machine for full loads only to save water and energy
- Install a water-efficient clothes washer Save: 16 Gallons/Load
- Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy, and helps your clothes retain their color.
- Run the dishwasher only when full to save water and energy.
- Install a water- and energy-efficient dishwasher. Save: 3 to 8 Gallons/Load.
- Install aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce flows to less than 1 gallon per minute.
- When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
- Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
- If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
- Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
- Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
- Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
- Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain more nutrients.
- Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more cooking water than necessary.
- If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
- Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.
- Install low-flow shower heads. Save: 2.5 Gallons
- Take five minute showers instead of 10 minute showers. Save: 12.5 gallons with a low flow showerhead, 25 gallons with a standard 5.0 gallon per minute showerhead.
- Fill the bathtub halfway or less. Save: 12 Gallons
- When running a bath, plug the bathtub before turning on the water. Adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
- Install aerators on bathroom faucets. Save: 1.2 Gallons Per Person/Day
- Turn water off when brushing teeth or shaving. Save: Approximately 10 Gallons/Day
- Install a high-efficiency toilet. Save: 19 Gallons Per Person/Day. Read more about toilets.
- Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket.
- Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year.
- Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
- Consider buying a dual-flush toilet. It has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste.
- Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor and save up to 300 gallons a month.
- Turn off the water while washing your hair and save up to 150 gallons a month.
- When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
- Take a (short) shower instead of a bath. A bathtub can use up to 70 gallons of water.
Know the Basics
- Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler. Save: 25 gallons/each time you water
- Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. Save: 15-12 gallons/each time you water
- Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers. Save: 15 gallons/each time you water.
- Water deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
- Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds. Save: 20-30 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft.
- Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Save: 30- 60 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft
One easy way to cut down how much water you use outdoors is to learn how much water your landscaping actually needs in order to thrive. Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make. To understand how much water your landscaping really needs, learn more about evapotranspiration (ET) here.
For Southern California residents, try this easy watering calculator to help determine how much you should be watering outside.
If you really want to be a sophisticated water user, invest in a weather-based irrigation controller—or a smart controller. These devices will automatically adjust the watering time and frequency based on soil moisture, rain, wind, and evaporation and transpiration rates. Check with your local water agency to see if there is a rebate available for the purchase of a smart controller.
Know Your Climate
One way to save water outdoors is to plant the right plants for your climate. Here are some tools to help you learn how to be a water-wise gardener:
• Explore the Save Our Water Water-Wise Garden Tool to learn what plants and flowers will flourish in your neighborhood.
• Sunset Magazine’s Plant Finder is another great tool.
• Learn more about gardening in a Mediterranean climate here
Water is often a go-to tool for outdoor clean-up jobs.
• Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios. Save: 8-18 gallons /minute.
• Wash cars/boats with a bucket, sponge, and hose with self-closing nozzle. Save: 8-18 gallons/minute.
• Invest in a water broom. If you have to use water to clean up outside, a water broom will attach to your hose but uses a combination of air and water pressure to aid cleaning. Water brooms can use as little as 2.8 gallons per minute (gpm) to remove dirt, food spills, leaves, and litter from concrete and asphalt while a standard hose typically uses 5 to 20 gpm.