Water: use it efficiently | Photo: Nemo Equipment

Water is a very precious resource. We drink water, we cook with water, we bathe in water and we clean with water. Learn how to conserve water efficiently in the kitchen, bath, laundry, outdoor and at work.

While one billion people suffer from water scarcity, we keep the water turned on while brushing our teeth. If we change our daily habits, we will change the planet for better.

There are limits to water supplies, and human activities are degrading them. Can we improve our track record without sacrificing the quality of life? For sure? When it comes to saving water, details matter.

"Save Our Water - The California Lifestyle" has compiled a list of simple actions that will have immediate results on the environment and in your wallet, too.

Discover how you can save water and money. Let's see how you can use water efficiently and reduce your water footprint with small adjustments in the daily routine:

Kitchen

1. Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants;
2. Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator;
3. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap;
4. If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead;
5. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time;
6. Install aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce flows to less than 1 gallon per minute;
7. Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more cooking water than necessary;
8. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean;
9. Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain more nutrients;
10. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap;
11. Run the dishwasher only when full to save water and energy. Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand;
12. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water;

Bath and Laundry

1. Install a high-efficiency toilet. Consider buying a dual-flush toilet;
2. Turn water off when brushing teeth or shaving, and save approximately 10 gallons a day;
3. Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor, and save up to 300 gallons a month;
4. When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather;
5. Take five-minute showers instead of 10 minute showers and save 12.5 gallons with a low flow shower head, 25 gallons with a standard 5.0 gallon per minute shower head;
6. Turn off the water while washing your hair, and save up to 150 gallons a month;
7. Install low-flow shower heads and save 2.5 gallons;
8. Fill the bathtub halfway or less, and save 12 gallons;
9. Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy, and helps your clothes retain their color;
10. Use the washing machine for full loads only to save water and energy;

Outdoor

1. Invest in a water broom which attaches to your hose but uses a combination of air and water pressure to aid cleaning. Water brooms can use as little as 2.8 gallons per minute (gpm) to remove dirt, food spills, leaves, and litter from concrete and asphalt while a standard hose typically uses 5 to 20 gpm;
2. Water deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes;
3. Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers, so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street, and save 15-12 gallons each time you water;
4. Water early in the morning or later in the evening, when temperatures are cooler;
5. Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers. Remember to turn it off when it rains;
6. Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios;
7. Wash cars/boats with a bucket, sponge, and hose with self-closing nozzle, and save 8-18 gallons/minute;
8. Plant drought-resistant trees and plants;
9. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds. Save 20-30 gallons each time you water 1,000 square feet;

Work

1. Replace old toilets and urinals with WaterSense(R) labeled models or consider waterless urinals. Plan ahead and budget for replacement of plumbing fixtures;
2. Encourage employees to report leaks and problems with plumbing and irrigation equipment;
3. Keep restroom fixtures in good repair and fix leaks promptly;
4. Request a free landscape audit from your local water supplier;
5. Review your water bill monthly to check for unusually high use. Check water meters at night or on the weekend to detect leaks. There should be no flow when all water using fixtures have been turned off;
6. Monitor your bill and water meter to determine unusually high use and possible leaks;
7. Re-landscape with drought tolerant plants where lawn is not needed. Schedule irrigation to deliver only what plants need based on monitoring the soil moisture and/or evapotranspiration rate;

Learn a few things you didn't know about the water.