Fix those leaks! Leaks allow water — and your money — to go down the drain. To help detect hidden leaks, turn off anything that uses water and see if your water meter is still moving. If it is, there could be a leak somewhere.
But beyond those hard-to-detect leaks, making smart choices about water can help conserve our limited resources. Here are some additional tips:
• Install water-efficient devices such as high-efficiency toilets and high-efficiency clothes washers.
• Only run your washing machine or dishwasher with full loads.
• Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth and shaving.
• Take shorter showers. Taking a five-minute shower with a low-flow shower head can save 10 percent, or about 50 gallons, for a typical family of four. Make sure toilet flappers have proper seating; flappers that do not seat properly waste a lot of water.
• Water your lawn only when needed, generally once every three days during the summer. Check sprinkler timers and reduce watering times if necessary. Adjust watering schedule for each season. In fall, unless it’s very hot outside, you can reduce your watering time by half. By December, you can turn off your irrigation system completely.
• Consider installing a weather-based irrigation controller, also known as a “smart controller.” These gizmos adjust watering automatically based on plants’ needs and daily, local weather. There are rebates offered for many of these devices; check with your water company for details.
• Check sprinkler heads, valves and drip emitters once a month. Make sure heads are aimed correctly (no matter how much you water it, concrete will not grow).
• Water in the early morning. Many irrigation experts feel the best time to water is between midnight and 6 a.m. because evaporation is kept to a minimum.
• Apply a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce moisture loss and keep weeds down.
• Ask your local nursery for the types of plants that will save you water. These plants can be beautiful as well as practical.
• Can’t bear to lose the look of a green lawn? There are synthetics made from recycled materials that look surprisingly real and never need water.
• When planting, group plants together according to their water and sun needs.
• Use a broom to sweep off pavement. Using the hose to wash down sidewalks, driveways, and patios wastes a lot of water and money.
• Use a spray nozzle with a shut-off handle on your hose so water doesn’t flow continuously.
• When planting on a slope, create basins around plants. Use shorter watering times to avoid runoff.