Utilizing indigenous plants for landscaping can save more than 50% of water normally applied to landscape purposes.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Water Conservation Tips
Here are some practical household guidelines for conserving water:
- Turn off the faucet when brushing teeth, lathering face, or shaving.
- Replace old faucet aerators with newer, more efficient models. Aerators can release 1 gallon per minute (gpm) or less compared to the average 3 – 5 gpm. The typical aerator is priced between $2 and $5. Many aerators have switches that turn off water flow without changing the temperature.
- Do not throw garbage or hazardous waste into the toilet.
- Replace old toilets with newer models that use less water per flush. Older toilets use from about 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush (gpf) depending upon the year of manufacturing. Toilets with an average of 1.6 gpf, price from about $75 – > $150, depending upon the flush technique. Also available are dual flush toilets that use one flush for liquid and another for solids. This way the minimum amount of water is used. These toilets run from $240 – $ 520, depending upon the model.
- Replace old showerheads with new, more efficient models. Try to find a showerhead that uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) compared to the average 4.5 gpm. These can cost as little as $2.
- Keep a bucket in the shower to collect excess water; this can be used for watering purposes.
- If buying a new dishwasher, choose one that provides several different wash cycle selections. This will enable you to use as little water as is necessary. Also look for machines that are labeled with Energy Star. These are energy efficient and will not only conserve water but also electricity, which will lower the electric bill.
Only run the dishwasher when it is completely full.
Scrape plates before putting them in the dishwasher rather than rinsing.
Dispose of scraps in the garbage rather than garbage disposals. Garbage disposals require several gallons of water to operate.
Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin. Use a vegetable brush.
Replace old faucet aerators with newer, more efficient models.
If there is no dishwasher, fill the sink with water then turn off the faucet and use the water in the sink to wash the dishes.
Don’t pour remaining water down the drain, if it can instead be used for watering certain plants and grasses.
Keep drinking water in the refrigerator to refrain from having to wait for the water from the faucet to turn cold.
Refrain from using water to “defrost frozen food”; instead allow them to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Check for leaks on a regular basis.
- If in the market for a new washing machine, buy one that is a front loader with a horizontal axis, these tend to conserve the most water. In addition, find a machine that is Energy Star rated so as to conserve water and electricity. Machines with several options of water levels, and wash and rinse cycles are also best because they allow the user to set the water level accurately and refrain from using hot water, preventing waste.
- Use cold water in the washing machine. It is not necessary to use hot water for most loads.
- Operate for full loads only and check for leaks regularly.
- When designing a landscape use native grasses and plants, these will require less watering and will survive best in the environment. Information on indigenous species can be found at: the Native Plant Center’s website. It is best to spread out each watering. When waterings are spread out plants and grasses are able to develop “deeper roots”, and can thus survive longer without water.
- It is best to water when the sun is down in order to prevent fast evaporation and early morning is best in order to prevent disease.
- Pay attention to seasons when setting watering schedule. For example, more water is required in August than in May.
- Mow once a week, only cut approximately 1/3 of the height off the grass, and leave the cut grass to act as a fertilizer.
- Do not mow to the edge of streams, wetlands, or other water bodies.
- Test soils before applying fertilizer and use low phosphorus products when fertilizing is necessary. More information on soil testing is available for Westchester County or for Putnam County.
- Use alternatives to chemical pesticides whenever possible.
- Use a bucket of water to clean cars, or utilize a commercial washer that practices good ‘gray water’ disposal methods.
- Avoid washing cars near storm drains or waterways, use low-phosphorus car cleaning products.
- Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing off.
- Channel roof drains to discharge onto pervious surfaces rather than onto pavement.
- When planning for a new house or driveway avoid impervious materials. Instead use “gravel, crushed stone, open paving blocks, or pervious paving blocks”.
- Sweep up yard waste and dispose of properly, do not rake or blow into streets.
- Dispose of car batteries properly.
- Service vehicles regularly.
- Reduce sand and salt use on driveways and sidewalks and/or use alternatives.
- When using a hose, control the flow with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
- Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
- For homes with pools, utilize a pool cover, this will prevent evaporation and heat loss. Also, manually clean filter, this not only saves water but is also a more effective way to clean the filter.