Be ready for the next big drought!

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droughtSave water – shower with a friend!

No, just kidding. We’ve already discussed what to do after a drought hits, but how can you prevent injuries to your health (and wealth) in a drought? Here are some self-reliant ways to reduce costs, improve efficiency and save both money and water.

No brainers:

  • Check for and repair faucet leaks.
  • Do not run the faucet continuously while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, etc.
  • Keep a plastic basin in your sink and collect faucet water for use on your landscape.

Reducing hot water use saves energy because your hot water heater has less work to do. Recent research has shown that on average about 73% of the water used through residential faucets is hot water. Do these easy tricks (even when there’s no drought) to save a ton of money!

Energy savers:

Install low-flow faucet aerators on all your household faucets. Some aerators can restrict flow to less than a gallon a minute. If you live in an older house and have older aerators with high flow rates the newer ones will really cut down the flow. Faucet aerators are about a $1 each.

If you are looking for further energy savings, don’t let the faucet run continuously while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. If your faucet uses 2.2 gpm, then you can save about 1.6 gallons of hot water for every minute you reduce your faucet use.

If you are looking for inexpensive ways to save water and a little energy, new faucet aerators may provide the most bang for the buck. Faucet aerators are an inexpensive item. Basic bathroom faucet aerators start at about $1 each and prices go up depending on the features you desire. All faucet aerators manufactured in the U.S. must use 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm) or less.

The water, wastewater, and energy saving benefits you get from installing new faucet aerators is primarily determined by your current aerators. But since faucet aerators are cheap and the water savings are well documented, it’s a safe bet that you will pay for your aerator investment in less than two years.

Don’t forget your toilets!

The single best thing you can do to improve toilet efficiency is to replace an old inefficient toilet with a new toilet. Toilets made before 1993 use anywhere from 3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) up to 8 gpf, while new high efficiency toilets are mandated to use 1.6 gpf or less. Check to see if your water utility offers any rebates for replacing old inefficient toilets.

If you are unsure of your toilet’s age you can often check the date of manufacture on the underside of the tank lid. The date of manufacture is stamped into the porcelain. If you toilet was made after 1993, it should be an efficient model. Toilets made during the 1980s typically were designed to use 3.5 gallons per flush. Older toilets often use much more water.

If replacing your toilet isn’t an option, at least make sure that your toilet isn’t leaking and replace the flapper if necessary. To make sure your toilet isn’t leaking, put food dye in the tank and leave it for 15 minutes. When you return, look in the toilet bowl to see if there is now dye color in the water spot. If there is color, or if you can hear and or see water running in your bowl, it’s time for a new flapper!

During a drought emergency you could be asked to reduce your water use substantially. Toilet use is typically the largest category of indoor water use and there is substantial room for water savings. Here are some tips for maximizing toilet use efficiency.

  • Regularly check for and repair toilet leaks.
  • Avoid using caustic toilet bowl cleaners such as toilet tank tablets. These products alter the pH of water in your toilet tank and damage plastic and rubber toilet parts causing severe leaks.
  • Flush less frequently. During drought emergencies some families adopt variations of the adage, “if it’s yellow let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down.”

Droughts can hit anywhere, and it’s essential that you prepare for them. Besides, these easy tips can cut thousands off your energy and water bills! What’s to lose?