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12 ways to conserve water

Posted 03-02-2009 at 06:57 AM by faucetman886

My campaign to determine the enthusiasm of Americans for “green” subjects came up a tremendous flop. Apathy won out. Regardless I’m not easily defeated. AS many of you may know the Atlanta metro area is now going into it’s 3rd year of drastic drought and lack of water resources. Landscaping and nursery businesses have gone under, some ending decades of being in business. The city long known for its beautiful lawns and mature landscapes has suffered more than you can imagine. Easily watering your lawn, washing your car or planting gardens is almost impossible. With all this in mind I have spent the last few days thinking of ways to easily conserve water and will write more in the days to come on how we can all do other things to help recycle and ease the impact on our environment.
The following are a few ideas on conserving water:
1. Plant xeroscaped landscaping. That means utilizing plants that need little in the way of daily watering. These can include succulents, cacti and flora that survive well in desert environments. Replace grass with gravel and rock gardens. The zen look is very in today. I never liked mowing and weeding a yard anyway. Let it go back to nature. The mountain community where I lived until recently and where my youngest son still lives doesn’t allow grass or lawns at all. All landscaping must be natural. The deer help with this by eating everything you plant that doesn’t occur naturally.
2. Do not wash your car with hose. Soap it up with water in a bucket and rinse with a bucket or sparingly with a garden hose. Better yet take it to a car wash that reclaims or recycles the used water. If you’re like me you drive it dirty!
3. Turn the water off in the bathroom sink when brushing your teeth, shaving etc. If washing dishes in the kitchen sink only leave the water on while rinsing. I recently discovered a neat kitchen sponge device with a handle and reservoir for dish washing soap. You simply hand wash the dishes with the sponge and rinse. This doesn’t even require a sink of water to soak the dishes.
4. Wash clothes only in full loads and cold water only. You can buy very effective laundry detergents that work in cold water.
5. Load your dish washer efficiently, loading as many dishes as possible while still allowing for efficient cleaning. Failure to do this frequently causes multiple cycles.
6. Take showers instead of bathes and if you are really serious about conserving water use the “navy” method..shower with a friend….no I mean rinse yourself down, turn the water off and soap up then turn the water back on and rinse off.
7. Repair leaking faucets and toilets. These can be the biggest cause of wasted water and are practically invisible to us as we go through our days.
8. To protect from the possibility of leaking or broken pipes, insulate your exterior piping.
9. To save energy used to heat water make sure your hot water heater is insulated and set the temperature at the lowest temperature possible and still be efficient. This should never be in excess of 120 degrees F. If you are nearing the time to replace your hot water heater consider one of the new tankless varieties or at least resize the replacement with a tank that is the smallest that your family can live with. A 2 person family does not need a 60 gallon hot water heater.
10. If its time to replace your faucets, look at the newest water saving faucets and shower heads. The market place is full of choices. National Builder Supply has a full line of water saving fixtures. Check the web site or call one of their friendly customer service folks to see all of the many varieties.
11. Replace your old toilets with new high efficiency models. These toilets can do a couple of things to conserve water. The old toilets use from 3 to 6 gallons of water per flush. The new ones can use as little as 1.23 cfm (cubic feet per minute) to flush and there are several versions that have a 2 stage flushing capacity which allows you choose liquid or solid waste flushing. Many local communities and state governments are offering tax incentives and rebates towards the purchase of high efficiency plumbing and appliances. Georgia, as an example offers tax free weekends, from time to time, saving sales tax on high efficiency devices. Check with your local utilities to see what is available to you.
12. Many home owners are replumbing their homes and planning new homes and renovations to allow for grey water drainage lines. This allows that grey water sources such as sinks , washers, dishwashers, tubs etc all drain into a storage area to be used to water your yard or garden. The only thing that drains into the septic tank or sewer line is human waste materials. This grey water process not only conserves water for use in the yard it cuts down the amount of sewage that must be treated or can allow your septic tank to go many years longer with out expensive draining and repairs. You can also apply this same principle to installing a rain barrel system to your gutters. This system allows you to easily capture rain water in 55 gallons drums to use for watering the yard, washing the car etc. I’m sure there are dozens of other ways that we can all work together to conserve water. Let me know what works for you and what I may have missed.
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  1. Old Comment
    funnyguy's Avatar
    Excellent tips. Folks are going to have to rethink the way landscaping has been done in the past, when cheap water and fertilizer was the norm. I think, however, we're going to have to be pushed into this "green thing". And the push is coming.
    I would add vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is an excellent way to reduce landfill and create cheap, organic fertilizer. It can be done in an apartment, so there's no excuses.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.
    Posted 01-21-2010 at 02:50 PM by funnyguy funnyguy is offline

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