How can I conserve water?

Bathroom

niagara aerator (Custom).jpgInstalling low flow faucet aerators is an inexpensive and simple way to conserve water. A faucet aerator is a device that screws onto the end of the faucet and mixes air into the water, so it reduces the flow of water while providing pressure. Aerators can reduce flow to as low as 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Most standard faucets are equipped with an aerator that flows at 2.2 gpm or higher. Regardless of what type of aerator you have, you should always turn off the water while lathering hands for washing, brushing teeth, shaving, etc.

A low flow shower head can use as little as 1.25 gallons per minute (gpm) depending on the model. Standard shower heads typically use 2.5 gpm. Installing a low flow showerhead and reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower can greatly reduce water usage. Taking a short shower will use less water than a bath. A typical bathtub requires 70 gallons of water to fill, while a 5 minute shower using a low flow shower head can use as little as 6.5 gallons.

dual-flush-toilet.jpgThe toilet is one of the largest users of water in the household. Replacing your old toilet with a new low flow model can save thousands of gallons per year. Low flow toilets require as little as 0.8 gallons of water per flush while older model toilets use approximately 4 gallons per flush. If you do not want to replace your existing toilet, you can make it more efficient by installing a low flow toilet flapper that reduces the amount of water you use per flush. You can also place an object such as a plastic water bottle filled with sand or gravel into the tank to displace water and reduce the amount of water needed to fill the tank.

Hot water

If the hot water takes a long time to reach the faucet, consider installing a hot water recirculator that will give hot water much faster. If that is not within your budget, keep a bucket under the sink that you can catch the cold water in while you are waiting. You can use this to water plants, give to pets, etc.

Kitchen

kitchen.jpgInstalling low flow faucet aerators is an inexpensive and simple way to conserve water. A faucet aerator is device that screws onto the end of the faucet and mixes air into the water, so it reduces the flow of water while providing pressure. Aerators can reduce flow to as low as 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Most standard faucets are equipped with an aerator that flows at 2.2 gpm or higher.

Replacing your older model dishwasher with a new energy efficient model can reduce water and energy usage. Older model washers use as much as 11 gallons of water per cycle. Newer, more efficient models use as little as 4 gallons per cycle. If you wash dishes by hand, be sure to fill the sink with a small amount of soapy water and rinse water rather than running the faucet while you wash.

Try not to utilize the garbage disposal. Start a compost pile or put the garbage in the trash.

Laundry room

Installing a water efficient washing machine will save significant amounts of water and electricity. Older model washers can use as much as 40 gallons of water per load, while more efficient washers use as little as 15 gallons per load. More efficient models also require less energy and spin the clothes more efficiently so it takes less time to dry them.

Yard

irrigation.jpgDepending on the size of your yard, the majority of your water use could go to irrigation. Being able to program your irrigation clock is important. New homeowners may never change the settings that were established when they moved in and since many systems irrigate in the late night or early morning hours, it is likely that residents don't know how many days a week their irrigation is running or how long each zone runs. Irrigation timers may not have a back-up battery installed so if the power goes out, the timer will be reset and will need to be reprogrammed. Most irrigation timers have a manual available for download online if the original has been misplaced.

Check to make sure all of the sprinkler heads are in proper working order by turning on your irrigation system. Heads can be damaged, lines can be ruptured by roots, etc. and should be repaired immediately. It is advised that the same brand of heads be used throughout the irrigation system for optimal performance in terms of pressure and coverage.

microirrigation.jpgConsider using micro irrigation whenever possible. Micro irrigation consists of sprayers, drip hoses, bubblers, misters, etc. that apply water directly to the root zone of the plant rather than broadcasting water over a wide area. Micro irrigation is ideal for planted beds, shrubs, and newly planted trees.

plants.jpgConsider reducing the amount of grass in your yard by installing Florida friendly/native plants. Planted beds of this type are attractive, require little to no water once established, and can attract a variety of wildlife. If you go to a home improvement store's garden center, the label will typically tell you the water requirements of the plant. If you would like to have a native garden, you may want to go to a local native plant nursery. A Florida native plant is defined by the Department of Environmental Protection as "a species that occurred in Florida at the time of European contact or 1500s". Florida natives are adapted to the conditions in Florida and are less likely to require irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers. You could also consider replacing your current grass with a more drought tolerant species such as Bahia. Species that are drought tolerant will tend to look healthier for longer during periods of drought with less irrigation.