With the hot weather upon us, Texas residents once again will be faced with finding ways to make a reasonable amount of water go a long way. It’s as much a rite of summer as planning vacations and figuring out how to occupy the kids through those long, lazy, school-free weeks and months.
Maintaining yards and swimming pools is especially challenging once temperatures soar into the 100s and beyond. Still, some common sense practices can help strike a balance between keeping things nice around the house and being a good steward of the overall environment.
1. There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.
2. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
3. Evaporative coolers require a seasonal maintenance checkup. For more efficient cooling, check you evaporative cooler annually.
4. Check you sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
5. Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full and you could save 1,000 gallons of water a month.
6. Avoid planting turf in areas that are hard to water, such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
7. Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around your pumps.
8. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost instead and save gallons every time.
9. Plant during the spring or fall when the watering requirements are lower.
10. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks, so that every drop goes down you, not the drain.
11. Check your water meter and bill to track your water usage.
12. Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours, when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
13. Wash your produce in the sink or in a pan that is partially filled with water instead of running water from the tap.
14. Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons a year.
15. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalk and save 80 gallons of water each time.
16. If your shower can fill a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace it with a water-efficient showerhead.
17. Collect the water you use for rinsing produce and reuse it to water houseplants.
18. Divide your watering cycle into shorter periods to reduce runoff and allow for better absorption every time you water.
19. We’re more likely to notice leaky faucets indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, pipes and hoses for leaks.
20. Periodically check your pool for leaks if you have an automatic refilling device.
21. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
22. When you shop for a new appliance, consider one offering cycle and load size adjustment. They are more water and energy efficient than older appliances.
23. Time your shower to keep it under five minutes. You’ll save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
24. Install low-volume toilets.
25. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass shades root systems and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.
26. When you clean your fish tank, use the water you’ve drained on your plants. The water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous, providing a free and effective fertilizer.
27. Use the sprinkler for larger areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
28. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl, you have a leak. It’s easy to fix, and you can save more than 600 gallons a month.
29. Plug the bathtub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
30. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
31. Direct downspouts and other runoff toward shrubs and trees, or collect and use for your garden.
32. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day. This will cut down on the number of times you run your dishwasher.
33. Water your summer lawns once every three days and your winter lawn once every five days.
34. Install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinklers to eliminate unnecessary watering.
35. Don’t use running water to thaw food.