How to Conserve Water
There are many ways to conserve water indoors and outdoors. Read the guidelines to help make your home more water efficient.
In the Kitchen/Laundry Room
- Equip faucets with aerators. Installing aerators on kitchen and bathroom sinks can reduce indoor water use by about 4%.
- Operate your clothes washer and dish washer with full loads only. By waiting until you have a full load of laundry or dishes, you’ll save on water and energy costs.
- Don’t leave the water running if you hand wash dishes. Fill the sink or a pail to wash and rinse dishes.
- Replace your clothes washer, the second highest water user indoors. New high-efficiency clothes washers can reduce water and energy use by 40%. Rebates for new clothes washers are available.
In the Bathroom
- Fix toilet leaks. Toilet leaks are easy to identify and fix. Check that the water level in your toilet tank is not above the overflow tube; the water level should be about an inch below the top of the tube. Also check your toilet flapper for proper seating and wear. Over time the flapper in your toilet tank becomes worn and does not work effectively to stop leaks into to the toilet bowl. To test for a toilet leak, place a few drops of food coloring or a toilet dye tablet in your tank. Wait a few minutes. If the coloring appears in the bowl, you likely have a leak.
- Shower instead of using the bath tub and take shorter showers. A full bath tub can use 25-70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons. If you take a bath, stopper the drain immediately and adjust the temperature as you fill the tub.
- Replace your old toilet, the largest water user indoors. If your toilet is from 1992 or earlier, you probably have an inefficient model that uses 3.5 gallons per flush or more. Consider replacing it with a new and improved high-efficiency toilet. These new models use 1.3 gallons per flush or less. Rebates are available for high efficiency toilets.
- Install low-flow showerheads. Replace older showerheads with new efficient models that use 2.5 gallons per minute or less. Older models can use up to 7 gallons of water per minute and can waste thousands of gallons per month.
- Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving. Remember that a typical faucet uses 2 gallons per minute!
Before you get started, check out everything you need to know about water smart gardening by visiting our demonstration site here.
Did you know that outdoor water consumption typically accounts for at least 50% of residential water use? Try following these simple steps to conserve water outdoors:
- Water your lawn only when it needs it. Over watering the lawn is a common wasteful practice. Step on your lawn; if the grass springs back up when you remove pressure, it doesn’t need watering.
- Set your irrigation schedule for the season and your local conditions. Watering times will vary by season, climate, soil type, and plant types. Remember to turn off irrigation during the winter rainy season (weather permitting).
- Plant drought tolerant species. Reduce outdoor watering needs by planting species appropriate for the Bay Area’s dry climate. Plants native to the area are already adapted to the soil and weather conditions and will generally require less water and work to thrive.
- Upgrade your irrigation hardware. For example, replace high flow sprinklers with drip irrigation (where appropriate). Santa Clara County residents may be eligible for rebates for irrigation hardware upgrades.
- Hydrozone: when planting, group plants together according to their water needs.
- Water during the cool part of the day. Reduce evaporation by watering lawns and plants only at night or early morning before dawn.
- Use mulch. Place several inches of mulch around trees and plants; a layer of mulch will slow the evaporation of moisture from your landscape and inhibit the growth of weeds.
- Install shut-off nozzles on all garden hoses. Make sure your garden hose has an automatic shut-off.
- Sweep sidewalks and driveways. Hosing down pavement around your home can waste hundreds of gallons. A broom is the proper tool to clean these areas.
- Don’t water the pavement. When your irrigation system is on, check for overspray. Position sprinkler heads to water lawns and gardens, not the pavement surrounding your landscape. Tune sprinkler heads so that the radius of spray is appropriate for the application. Try to keep a planted buffer between the lawn and the sidewalk to minimize runoff.
- Avoid runoff on slopes. Try to avoid planting on slopes (especially lawns); if your lawn or garden is already on a slope you can reduce your watering times so that excess water does not run off. Create basins around plants to catch water and prevent runoff.
- Check your irrigation system often for broken sprinkler heads and irrigation tubing.Broken sprinkler heads waste water and can potentially damage your landscape. Check sprinkler heads, drip system emitters, and drip lines for breaks and cracks.
- Don’t let water run while washing the car. Clean the car with a bucket of soapy water. Use the hose only to rinse it off.
- Replace sprinklers with drip irrigation when possible. Use drip irrigation for trees, shrubs, and flowerbeds. Drip systems use less water and direct water where it is required by the plant. Santa Clara County residents may be eligible for rebates replacing inefficient irrigation equipment with new efficient equipment.
- Use a pool cover. Pool covers will prevent evaporation and decrease heat loss, saving water and energy.