ANGELES — Ripping up the lawn is the single best way
to save water in drought-stricken California, but doing
that can takes weeks, if not months, of consideration
and planning. And then there’s the cost.
of us are just not ready to take that step.
if you’re not trying to help fulfill California Gov.
Jerry Brown’s executive order mandating a 25 percent
cut in urban water use, what can any household do to be
responsible about water usage, drought or no drought?
compiled more than 40 wallet-friendly tips for reducing
your water footprint that go beyond ditching the lawn.
Some of these steps are obvious but bear repeating, like
No. 25 (don’t walk away while your shower heats). And
we know that some of these tips save water at the
expense of using another energy source.
water conservation expert Tracy Quinn of the Natural
Resources Defense Council said that making just a few
small changes to our daily habits can result in big
water savings. "Every little bit helps."
Post reminder notes over all your sinks, beginning with
Don’t rinse scraps of food down the sink after dinner.
Scrape them into your garbage pail. (This is a good use
for all those takeout napkins that seem to clutter
everyone’s "junk drawer.")
It won’t kill you to do dishes in cold water. Pretend
While waiting for the dish water to warm up, use the
cooler stream to ...
fill up your pet’s water bowl.
fill the ice cube trays
fill reusable water bottles or a water pitcher that you
keep in the fridge.
But if you absolutely need hot water, consider heating
up a teakettle at dish time and supplementing it with
the cooler water right out of the faucet. (Rubber gloves
Got ice cubes left over in water glasses after a dinner
party? Toss them onto the lawn.
Fix that leaky kitchen faucet and any other leaks around
the house. That drip, drip, drip may not seem like a lot
but could waste hundreds of gallons a year, Quinn says.
Not ready to spend big on a water-conserving dishwater,
washing machine or toilet? How about efficient new
faucet aerators and shower heads? Many cities offer
rebates, and some may even give them away.
Your dishwasher is its most efficient when you’ve got
a full load.
Some dishwasher models, however, offer a half-load
option, which can be helpful if you live alone or rarely
No dishwasher? Consider paper plates and cups if you’re
hosting a huge bash. (Before you buy, find out which
ones can go in your compost bin or your city’s
the laundry room:
Wait until you have a full load before washing clothes
but if that is not an option, readjust the load-size
Stop and think about the age of your washing machine
(and dishwasher). If they’re 10 years or older, they’re
not as water efficient as they could be, says Ron
Voglewede, global sustainability director for Whirlpool
Appliances. The technology has changed dramatically.
Newer machines "use significantly less water and
less time, and less energy," he said.
If your washing machine is old enough to drive, consider
using a coin laundry. It just might save you money.
Use the Internet to check out appliance rebates offered
by your water and energy suppliers.
Place a cup and refillable water bottle in the bathroom
walk away while the shower is "warming up." Be
brave. Meanwhile ...
Position a sturdy plastic bucket or pitcher in your
shower to collect the cooler water and then use it to
fill a watering can for your potted plants, to clean the
shower stall or to fill the toilet tank for flushing.
Aim for a three-minute shower. (Pretend you’re in the
military.) Here’s the drill: Get wet. Shampoo.
Condition. Scrub down. Rinse off. Bonus points if you
turn the water off during your shampoo and scrub down.
Use a kitchen timer in the bathroom to track your shower
time. The timer function on your smartphone works, too.
If your bathroom sink takes forever to warm up, use a
splash of heated teakettle water combined with tap water
in a bowl to wash your face before bed.
Don’t let the water run while you’re shaving.
Use this simple test to make sure your toilet tank is
not leaking into the bowl: Put a few drops of food-safe
dye in the tank, Quinn says. Give it 15 minutes. If that
color becomes visible in the bowl, you’ve got a leak.
Don’t flush the toilet bowl just to throw away stuff,
like a tissue. That’s what the trash can is for.
the front door:
Shower at the gym two or three times a week.
Don’t wash your car in the driveway. Why? It can use
up to 100 gallons of water, Quinn said. Worse: Runoff
sends debris and toxins into the storm drains and, in
turn, the ocean.
Or go a different route: Take "The Dirty Car
Pledge" at LAWaterkeeper.org and vow not to wash
your car for 60 days. You’ll get a blue sticker to put
on your dirty car and can then share the image on social
media using #DirtyCarPledge.
Stop servers before they just plop down glasses of H2O
at your table, unless you intend to drink them.
Wash your dog at a self-serve pet wash, or take Buster
to a groomer.
Talk to a gardening expert about whether aerating your
lawn — punching little holes through the compacted
soil below — can help you cut down on the water it
needs. (Do-it-yourself aerator sandals cost about $20.)
Make sure your sprinkler heads are water thrifty. (Some
cities offer rebates on water-efficient replacement
Adjust sprinklers so they only hit the lawn, not the
sidewalk, the front porch and your neighbor’s front
Skip one or two lawn waterings a week.
Scale back your sprinklers’ run time by two to three
Sweep sidewalks instead of using a hose to do the dirty
Shop around for rain barrels now, so you’re ready when
the rain finally hits. Many cities offer discounts.
Make sure hoses have water-efficient spray nozzles, and
get rubber washers to fix any leaks. Quinn says hoses
without nozzles can waste 8 gallons or more of water by
the time you walk back to the spigot to turn them off.
If you know you want to tear up the lawn but just don’t
have a design yet, consider letting it go brown until
you make up your mind. (You might want to let your
neighbors in on your plans.)
Price pool covers. The average pool loses a jaw-dropping
40,000 gallons a year to evaporation, Quinn says.
Use mulch or composting around plants, reducing how much
water they need.