California continues to be in a state of drought, and if you have driven out by Lake Casitas lately, you know just how close to home this drought is hitting. Most of us have taken steps to reduce our water consumption, and nearly all Californians are living under mandatory water restrictions.
For example, as of July 1, 2016, Casitas Municipal Water District customers can only water outdoors on Saturdays before 10:00am or after 6:00pm, and customer allocations were reduced by 10%.
It is imperative that we continue our water conservation efforts and that we all look for more ways we can reduce the amount of water we use inside and outside of our homes.
To help you determine how you can save more water in your everyday life, here are 10 things you can do to conserve water:
1. Save Your Cooking Water
Water used for cooking vegetables or grains can be saved, allowed to cool, and then used for other purposes. Two of the best ways to reuse cooking water is to fill your toilet tank or water trees or a vegetable garden.
2. Replace Your Shower Head
If you haven't changed out your shower head since the early 1990s, it is definitely time for a new one. Older shower heads use about three times as much water as newer versions, so this is an easy way to immediately reduce the amount of water you use. Even if your shower head is post-1992, the newest models are likely more efficient than what you are currently using. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends choosing a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
If you are a Casitas Municipal Water District customer, contact them to see about getting a free low-flow shower head as part of their water conservation project.
3. Invest in Rain Barrels
Rain barrels come in a variety of styles and are widely available locally and online. While you may shell out a bit more for the perfect barrel to match your home's architectural style, you can easily find basic rain barrels for less than $100. Plus, you may be eligible for a rebate through the Ventura County Rain Barrel Program.
You can opt for just one rain barrel, but you might be surprised at just how quickly they fill up. This means that you will probably want more than one, so you may want to purchase them at the same time to make sure they match.
You can use your harvested rain water to irrigate ornamental landscaping to conserve water and lower your water bill.
4. Stop Brushing Your Teeth in the Shower
Several years ago, we somehow got on the trend of brushing our teeth in the shower as a way to save water. Since you need no water to brush your teeth until it's time to rinse your tooth brush and rinse out your mouth, it is actually better to brush your teeth outside of the shower. Brushing them in the shower just prolongs your time in there, which means using more water.
5. Shorten Your Shower
While we are on the topic of bathing, we might as well mention an oldie but goodie. Shortening your shower by just a few minutes is one of the easiest steps you can take to conserve water in your home. You might be able to do this by shaving your legs every other day instead of every day or by washing your hair fewer times per week.
6. Install a Gray Water System
Gray water systems allow us to reclaim water we use in our homes to reuse for irrigation purposes. They are most often used to reclaim water used in washing machines. Water recaptured in this manner is best used for ornamental landscaping and should not be used to irrigate plants grown for food.
Depending on the type of gray water system you choose to install, you may need a permit. If you are working with a contractor, they can handle this process for you. If you are thinking about making this a do-it-yourself project, contact Building & Safety at the County of Ventura to see if a permit is necessary.
You can see a gray water system model at the Ojai Valley Green Coalition's resource center, which is located at 206 N. Signal Street, Suite S and is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5:00pm.
7. Reclaim Water Without a Gray Water System
You don't have to install a gray water system to reclaim some of the water you and your family use. With a few buckets and bowls, you can capture water used while showering, washing your hands or cleaning produce.
Again, it is best to use reclaimed water to irrigate ornamental landscaping. If you want to use this water on plants grown for food, be sure to only use non-toxic, all-natural or organic shampoos, conditioners and soaps.
8. Fix Leaks Quickly
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a one-drip-per-second leak can waste 1,661 gallons of water in one year. Check your sinks, bath tubs, shower heads, toilets and outdoor faucets for leaks, and fix them right away to conserve water and save money.
9. Go Meatless Once a Week
You can save hundreds of gallons of water every year just by refraining from eating meat one day each week. If you also skip dairy once a week, you can save even more water.
10. Use Your Dishwasher Wisely
You can save more than 10 gallons of water per load if you wash a full load of dishes in your dishwasher, rather than by hand. If you have an Energy Star dishwasher (which you should), you can expect to save even more water. Large items, such as pots and pans should be washed by hand so that you do not take up space in your dishwasher that could be better filled with several small items.
What is your favorite way to save water in your everyday life? Let us know in the comments below!
AimeeJo Davis-Varela is the marketing director for The Davis Group and a freelance writer specializing in real estate, sustainable home improvement, eco-friendly landscaping, green living and travel writing.
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