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Conservation Tips

These are all things that can be done each month to conserve water and lower your bill

January   February   March   April   May   June
July   August   September   October   November   December

Monthly H2O Tips

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
January Start the new year with a leak inspection of all water-using appliances and fixtures.  Turn off all water using appliances, then How To Read Your Meter to see whether you have a leak.

If you do have a leak, check the toilet first – it’s the easiest leak to identify!  (See February for how to identify toilet leaks.) Also check faucets, under your sinks, and behind the refrigerator & washing machine.  If you still can’t identify the leak, you may need to contact a plumber.

Begin planning your water-friendly landscape for the coming year now. Download information on drought tolerant plants or talk to the folks at your local garden center about native plants. You can also plan & even build your own rain barrel system to reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation.

Make sure to post this handy guide next to your sprinkler timer to make appropriate adjustments for the coming irrigation season.  In most cases, you won’t need to water at all this month, as the weather will do it for you.

Don’t let a silent leak increase your water bill.  Leaks typically account for 14% of indoor water usage.  That’s over 15,800 gallons of water lost each year to leaks in the average customer household!

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
February Did you know that toilets account for over one third of the water used in most homes? Consider converting your old high-flow toilet to a new low-flow toilet.  Your household could save two to five gallons of water every time you flush. Download information on selecting a low-flow toilet. Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to water your plants because it reduces evaporative losses by watering on the ground near the plant.  It’s also better for the plant’s foliage and root system.  Now is the time to plan your drip system so that you can install it when the weather is clear, without the rush of setting it up in the summer when plants need it right away.

In most cases, you won’t need to water at all this month, as the weather will do it for you. If you do need to water, use a hose on key spots instead of running your sprinklers.

Leaks inside a toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day! Toilet leaks can be detected by using several drops of food coloring in the tank. You have a leak if you see the coloring in the bowl after a few minutes without flushing.  Many toilet leaks are simple enough to fix yourself with a few inexpensive parts.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
March Replace your old, less-efficient washing machine with a new energy-efficient washer and save up to 7,000 gallons of water per year.  Not in this year’s budget? Adjust the water level in your machine to accommodate the size of each load or wait to wash only full loads. Each load of laundry uses approximately 50 gallons of water. Get ready for spring irrigation by testing your irrigation/ sprinkler system for leaks, malfunctions and spray distribution.  Clean the grit out of emitters for efficient spray.  Adjust as needed for uniform distribution without overspray onto concrete.  (No matter how much you water it, concrete will not grow.)

Begin watering minimally as needed, using a hose on key spots instead of running your sprinklers.

Washing Machines are the 2nd highest water-using indoor device and account for about 22% of water usage.  Waiting to wash full loads not only saves water, it also saves on electricity and detergent costs.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
April Showerheads are the 3rd highest water-using indoor device and account for 17 – 20% of water usage.   So start spring right with a low-flow showerhead.  Don’t let “April showers” mean more water going down the drain! Spring cleaning doesn’t have to mean water waste.  Clean your walks and driveways with a broom instead of a hose and save 80 gallons of water every time.  Place a bucket in the shower after your initial rinse, and use the resulting water to clean floors, water plants, or wash cars. Also check pipes for leaks that might have gone unnoticed through the wet winter.

Water minimally as needed, using a hose on key spots instead of running your sprinklers.

Are you tired of watching your laundry and bath water go down the drain? Did you know that more than half of your indoor water can be used as graywater? The handy Graywater Guide Book helps homeowners and landscape/ plumbing contractors understand the graywater standards and design, install, and maintain graywater systems.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
May Faucets are the 4th highest water-using device in a non-conserving home and the highest in conserving homes!  The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute; turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month! Change to inexpensive low-flow sink aerators to further reduce your use. Add a fresh layer of mulch around your plants to both replace soil eroded during the winter and help keep roots cool throughout the summer.  Plants well insulated by a layer of mulch generally require less water.

As the rain ends and dry weather begins, set your sprinklers to 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.  Start with a 2-day a week watering schedule and gradually add days as the weather becomes hotter.

When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees, shrubs, or house plants.

For cold drinks, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
June Make sure to keep windows cracked and ceiling fans operating in the down position for optimum indoor cooling and air circulation.  Drawn drapes, closed shades or blinds during daylight hours will keep room temperatures much lower too. Longer grass means less water lost to evaporation.  In hot, dry weather, cut the lawn about once a week.  Set the mower blades to keep grass 2-3 inches tall, trimming one-half to three-quarters of an inch at a time.  Frequent cutting prevents excessive shock that causes grass to turn yellow.

Most trees should be watered approximately one foot in from the outer edge of the canopy, as that’s where the majority of the active water-absorbing roots are.  Watering at a tree’s trunk is less effective and may promote fungal growth and other tree diseases.

Water 3 to 4 times a week in June, or daily in very short cycles.

For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.

Alternately, add hydrogels to plants that dry out quickly; these water-absorbing polymer crystals swell to several times their original size and slowly release water into the surrounding soil. Hydrogels can be found at your local garden center.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
July Expecting a big Fourth of July gathering?  Make sure to wash only full loads of dishes in the dishwasher, or if washing by hand, don’t leave water running while rinsing.  Replacing an older dishwasher with a water-efficient unit could save about 5 gallons per load. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water. Weeds are notorious for stealing water away from other plants, so if you keep their populations in check, you won’t have to water as often.

July and  August will see the most irrigation needs. Remember to water in short cycles to minimize run-off while effectively maintaining your turf.

When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most, moving their play spot regularly.

Don’t forget the dog either! Bathe your pets outdoors in an area in need of water instead of in the house; you’ll save water and the hassle of indoor clean-up.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
August August is often the month with the highest water use as we use more water to maintain landscapes and stay cool.  However, a rising bill isn’t always due to irrigation.  “Swamp coolers” used to cool some homes can use up to 5 gallons PER MINUTE.  Know the water usage of coolers and other devices before using them. You can reduce water demands in decorative water features (whether a fountain, waterfall or pond) by installing a recirculating pump.  Turn off any spray feature on windy days to reduce evaporative losses and adjust pressure if overspray occurs. Water evaporates quickly in the high daytime heat of August.  Cover the pool when not in use to minimize evaporation.  Add water lilies in fish ponds or water gardens to add brilliant color, minimize water loss and prevent algae growth.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
September Turning off the water while brushing teeth or shaving and taking quicker showers are just a few of the simple ways water can be conserved.  Insulating water pipes, chillers, heaters and storage tanks could also make a big difference in water savings. Over-irrigation is most prevalent in the autumn months when summer irrigation schedules have not been re-adjusted for cooler temperatures and shorter daylight.  Over-irrigation forces water below the root zone, which degrades overall plant health and causes excessive run-off.

Most watering schedules can be reduced to two to four times a week in September, with shorter run times.

Now is the time to check on insulated pipes and prepare for winter while the weather is nice.  Replace worn or cracked insulation and wrap exposed pipes with approved insulating material.  Not only does this help prevent damage due to freezing, it also reduces the amount of water you’ll have to run to get hot water, saving you money.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
October Installing an instantaneous demand water heater that uses a valve and pump to divert the cold water sitting in the hot water line to a heater that quickly warms it and returns it to the hot water tap.  Or, retrofit your existing heater with a recirculating pump to continually recycle hot water between the farthest point of use and the water heater. You’ll get hot water faster and conserve. Prepare your lawn and garden for the cool months ahead with a winter fertilizer.  In autumn and winter, when the angle of the sun is indirect and days are shorter, using a lawn food with good nitrogen content will help boost greenness next spring.

Watering times should again be reduced this month, to two to three times a week with shorter run times.

Autumn is in the air and it’s time to prepare your garden for winter.  A fresh layer of mulch around your plants will help to insulate the roots, protecting them from freezing temperatures.  A solid packing of mulch also helps protect against soil erosion due to rain, and reduces the likelihood of plants being swept away in storms.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
November If your water bills are not showing a decrease over summer’s usage, you could have a leak.  Check your water meter after turning off all water-using devices, including automatic icemakers.  If the dial is moving, chances are you have an undetected leak.  Call your district’s Customer Service number for detection suggestions or contact a plumber for leak repairs. With fallen leaves and garden waste, start a compost bin to let it “cook” over the winter.  This creates a great mulch to use in the spring.  This handy site provides information on what (and what not) to compost and how to compost effectively.

Watering needs this month are very low and should be mostly covered by natural rain and/or snow fall.  In most cases, your irrigation system should be turned off. Water minimally as needed, using a hose on key spots instead of running your sprinklers.

Over 42,000 gallons of water are needed to grow and prepare food for the typical Thanksgiving dinner for eight.  Save water during Thanksgiving meal preparations by thawing your turkey in the refrigerator.  Avoid letting the faucet run constantly while rinsing off foods or dishes.

Month Indoor Saving Tips Outdoor Saving Tips Efficiency Tips
December Save on sewer costs all year long by conserving water this winter.  Sewer rates are usually based on the December – February water use average, which typically is mostly indoor water usage. Trim shrubs and trees while they’re dormant to promote new healthy growth come spring.  Healthy plants use water more efficiently, reducing the total amount of water needed.

Watering needs this month are minimal and should be covered by natural rain and/or snow fall.  If you do water, do so by hand.  If you use your sprinkler system, make sure to drain the system after each use during the winter months to prevent damage to the lines.

Disconnect garden hoses from outdoor faucets to avoid ice formation inside, potentially spreading to house pipes and then breaking the distribution line.

While you’re at it, drain the hoses and irrigation system to prevent damage.