Water Use Tips
Indoor Water Efficiency Tips
It is in your best interest to address the issue of water conservation because it can represent significant savings on your water bill. There are a number of ways that water can be conserved in the household, some of which are outlined below:
Shower & Bath
Take shorter showers or shower the 'Navy-Way'; turn off the water as you soap up, then turn the water back on to rinse off.
Only fill the tub half-full when taking a bath. Remember when you use less water in the shower or bath, not only do you save money on your water bill but you also save on your hydro or gas bill (depending on which one you use to heat the water).
When washing, brushing your teeth, or shaving, never let the tap run continuously. Fill a glass with water for mouth rinsing while brushing your teeth. Rinse your razor by filling the bottom of the sink with a few centimeters of warm water.
Never flush garbage of any kind down the toilet. Household cleaners, paints, solvents, pesticides and other chemicals can be very harmful for the environment.
Check faucets, pipes and toilets regularly for leaks and have them repaired right away; leaks can account for 10% or more of daily water use. Always turn your taps off tightly but gently so they don't drip. A steady drip can waste up to 55 litres of water in just 24 hours, if not looked after, it could add up to 20,075 litres per year. Install an aerator attachment on your sink faucets and reduce water use by 25%.
To check for leaks in your toilet tank, put a little food colouring in the tank. If, without flushing, the colour begins to appear in the bowl you have a leak that should be repaired immediately.
If your home was built before 1980 then you probably have a toilet that is flushing 20 litres of water with each flush. If your house was built since 1980 then each flush likely requires 13 litres of water. The ultra low flush (ULF) toilets flush with only 6 litres of water. Installing new ULF Toilets in your home represents savings of 70% or 54% respectively depending on the age of your house. Turn off the tap at the back of the toilet and check to make sure the water dial on the meter is not turning.
Most older shower heads use anywhere from 15 to 30 litres of water per minute. Check the flow rate of your shower head. To determine flow rate, turn your shower on full and collect the water for 5 seconds. Measure the volume of water collected in litres and multiply by 12. The answer is the rate of flow of your shower head in litres per minute. A shower head with a flow rate of less than 10 litres per minute is considered to be water efficient and meets the requirements of the plumbing code of Ontario. If your shower head uses more than 10 litres of water per minute replace it with a new water efficient shower head.
Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them under running water. If you wash dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing. If you have two sinks, partially fill one with soapy water and the other with rinse water. If you have only one sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or in a pan full of hot water.
When cleaning fruits and vegetables, never let the tap run continuously. Instead, wash them in a partially filled sink, then rinse them quickly under the tap.
When boiling vegetables, use only enough water to cover them, and use a tight-fitting lid. Steaming uses even less water while conserving more nutrients.
Don't thaw frozen foods under running water - defrost them in the microwave or refrigerator. Capture excess water in a container when running the tap. This can provide and ample supply of water for indoor and outdoor plant watering.
Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap until the water gets cool each time you want some. Be sure to rinse the container and change the water every few days.
Load your dishwasher to capacity before running it . If you have an automatic dishwasher, use it only to wash full loads, and use the energy saver or shortest cycle.
Never put garbage of any kind down the sink. Cooking fat and greases, households cleaners, paints, solvents, pesticides and other chemicals can be very harmful to the environment and your piping system.
Older dishwashers use 8-14 gallons of water compared to 7-20 gallons of water used by new models. This water reduction is largely due to improved spray arms and filtering systems that provide better movement and wash action, resulting in decreased hot water use. In addition, some new dishwashers have an air-dry cycle that by-passes the electrical mode and saves energy. If your machine does not have this option stop the machine before the drying cycle begins and open the doors to let dishes air dry.
When doing laundry, select the water-fill level to match the size of the load, or only wash full loads.
If your machine has a "suds-saver" feature, be sure to use it (this feature reuses the clean rinse water for washing the next load).
If you don't have a suds-saver feature but want to reuse the rinse water, consider trying to collect the rinse water and using it to water your garden.
A horizontal-axis washing machine can be utilized in the laundry room to reduce water consumption within the household. These machines use less water and are said to deliver a cleaner wash. The washer spins on a horizontal axis (h-axis) using less energy and water. The tumbling motion, like that of a dryer, tumbles clothes in and out of the water. High-efficiency washers spin faster than traditional models and can spin out more water from clothes. Your clothes spend less time in the dryer, shortening your laundry time and saving energy. You'll reduce your water use by 40 percent and your energy use by 65 percent.
Outdoor Water Efficiency Tips
There are many simple ways to use water more efficiently outdoors. Demand on water supply can double during the summer months due to outdoor water use, especially in residential areas, where the demand for lawn watering is greatest.
Allow lawns to follow their natural cycle. It's normal for lawns to become dormant during the summer months. It will all turn lush again with the fall rains. Consider giving your lawn a rest in the summer. Let the areas of the yard that don't get heavy wear go brown and dormant. Water it only once every month in dry weather, and it'll bounce back in the fall.
During droughts, water your trees not your grass. Your lawn will rebound after the first rainfall. Young and old trees are more vulnerable. Young trees newly planted should be watered two hours a week using either a soaker hose or a garden hose, with a setting drip of three drips per second. New trees should be watered weekly during the summer months for the first two years. While mature trees do not need to be watered regularly, they do need watering during periods of drought. As with young trees, mature trees should be watered for a few hours a week or overnight every two weeks during times of drought, using slow drip garden hose.
Your lawn only needs one inch or 2.5 cm of water per week. If it rains two or more days during the week, skip watering that week. Water in the early morning or evening to reduce water evaporation. A lawn that stays wet through the night can cause disease and too much water creates shallow roots that make lawns more susceptible to pests and heat stress. Choose sprinklers that generate large water droplets, which are less likely to evaporate or be blown away. Position sprinklers so that water lands on your yard and garden, not on paved areas.
Grasscycling is a simple and natural approach to lawn care. The basics of grasscylcing are nearly identical to conventional lawn care; keep mower blades short, cut when the grass is dry, and never remove more than one third the length of the grass height at once.
Clippings are left on the lawn after mowing to decompose quickly, releasing valuable nutrients back into the soil. For the best results, mow when your lawn is dry, break up any clumps of clippings that might form, and spread them across the lawn. Don't mow your lawn until it reaches 5 to 6 centimetres in height. Longer grass provides shade to protect your lawn from heat. It also helps to develop deeper roots to crowd out weeds, and gives your grass the ability to store moisture. Grass clippings are 75% to 85% water. When you mow regularly, clippings quickly decompose and release water and nutrients back into the lawn. Leaving clippings on your lawn can generate up to 25% of the lawn's yearly fertilizer needs and reduce the amount of time and money you spend fertilizing and bagging. Lawns grow at an acceptable rate, stay greener and healthier and develop a deeper root system when clippings are left on them. Fertilize in the fall to boost spring growth. Fertilize in the spring if the lawn needs it, and let clippings do the job through the summer.
Grasscycling has many benefits; it saves time, money and the resources needed to pick up and handle the clippings for municipal composting or landfilling. When practiced in conjunction with proper law3n management, grasscycling can reduce water and fertilizer requirements, mowing time, disposal costs and tax dollars.
Xeriscaping is landscaping with the goal of reducing water usage. Plans requiring little or no water are chosen. Xeriscaping makes use of cultural practices such as soil preparation and mulching extensively. This form of landscape does not mean NO water, rather the watering is managed and effort is to reduce the amount of water the homeowners need to use in addition to reducing the amount of water the homeowners need to use in addition to rainfall.
Determine the type of soil conditions and make amendments if necessary. Select low water use plants. Water until plants are well established then only as needed. Apply mulch on flower beds to help retain soil moisture, limit weed growth (with its competing water demands), and add organic matter to the soil. Healthy soil, rich in organics and nutrients, easily absorbs and retains water. If using fertilizer, avoid over-fertilizing as this promotes excessive growth and increases the plant's water demand.
Water Efficient Plants, Trees and Shrubs
Develop natural areas, flower beds and gardens on your property to help reduce runoff and replenish groundwater supplies.
Most plants do best if the soil is allowed to partially dry out between waterings. Vegetables and other annuals should be watered at the first sign of drooping, but tougher perennials only need water if they stay droopy after it cools off in the evening.
Most lawns, trees and shrubs get the nutrients they need from the soil and mulching. However, annual plants, vegetable gardens and lawns sometimes need extra nutrients from compost, mulch, or fertilizer.
Add compost when you're creating new garden beds or planting a new lawn. Spread four to eight centimetres of compost on your lawn twice a year. Compost helps the soil hold nutrients and water, and feeds the helpful organisms in the soil.
Mulch is a rough, organic material made from leaves, wood chips, compost or grass clippings. Spread mulch around plants in spring and fall, keeping it about three centimeters from the stems. A layer of mulch helps the soil conserve water, prevents weeds, and feeds the soil.
Fertilize moderately. Too much chemical fertilizer can damage beneficial organisms, and wash off into streams and leaks where it may harm wildlife and green spaces.
Think twice before using pesticides. They can damage soil and plants, pollute water runoff, and may be dangerous to your health.
Choose more pest-resistant kinds of plants. Replace problem plants with heartier varieties, and clean up diseased or dead plants to cut down on areas where pests can breed.
Use pesticides as a last resort. Try alternative methods such as removing problem weeds by hand. If you must use chemicals, instead of spraying a large area, use a spot-spray herbicide. Always follow the directions for the use of pesticides carefully.
Accept nature. Learn to live with a few weeds or imperfect plants.
Car Washing & Other Outdoor Water Use
Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water, which collects and separates out grease and oils as well.
Alternately, you can wash your car with a sponge and bucket on the lawn. Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle so that water flows only as needed. Spray the car, shut off the water, wash the car using a pail of soapy water and then rinse the car when finished.
When finished, turn it off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle, to avoid leaks. Check hose connectors to make sure plastic or rubber washers are in place. Washers prevent leaks.
Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway, patio, or sidewalk. Rainfalls will take care of the rest.
When possible, opt for a permeable surface driveway (such as crushed rock, stone dust or interlocking paving stones) to reduce runoff and replenish groundwater).
Don't overfill your swimming pool to cut down on water lost through splashing. Pools should only be filled to 15-20 cm from the top.
Use a swimming pool cover. It will not only help to keep debris out and heat in, but prevent evaporation loss.
Use water-waving pool filters, and limit backwashing to one or two minutes, or until the water becomes clear. Use a pre-filter to reduce backwashing to three or four times per season.