Saving Water

I was planning to write about roofing this week, but our drought deserves a little more attention. While this lovely rainstorm should help, it can lull people into a false sense of security. We are way behind on rainfall, so we need to keep conserving water. Here are a few ideas on how to do so.

Probably the most effective way to conserve water is to make sure your water isn’t running all the time. If you have leaks in your faucets or toilets, you may be wasting hundreds of gallons every month. In fact, according to, a constant drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day.

One way to check for leaks is to read your home’s water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you’ve got a leak.

Big leaks are often obvious: you can hear them or see them. But slow leaks can be harder to detect, especially in your toilet. To test for toilet water leaks, place several drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Leave the toilet alone for at least 30 minutes. When you return, look to see if the water in the toilet bowl has taken on some of the color from food dye you put in the tank. If it has, you’ve got a leak between the tank and the bowl.

If you really want to go big, consider replacing a standard 18-liter per flush toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6-liter flush model. This will lead to a 70 percent savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30 percent.

If you can’t afford to be quite so extreme, just purchase low-flow showerheads, take shorter showers, put a little water in the sink and rinse your razor there instead of leaving the faucet running, and turn off the faucet after you wet your toothbrush. You can also save your shower water and use it to water household plants or to flush the toilet. Every little bit helps.

Here we are with many water-saving ideas, and we haven’t even gotten out of the bathroom yet. In the kitchen and laundry room, a good way to save water is to wait until you have full loads to run the dishwasher or washing machine. Another way to save water is to reduce the time you wait for water to heat up in winter or cool down in summer: add insulation to your water pipes (to decrease the time you wait for hot water) and put a bottle of water in the fridge, so it’s cold and ready when you want it.

Outside, save water by planting drought-resistant landscaping, and lay down a layer of mulch around trees and plants to slow evaporation. If you have a sprinkler system, be sure you’re not watering paved walkways or roadways. Adjust sprinklers to focus all the water on your landscaping. The other issue to check is for a leak in the sprinkler system. This won’t show if the sprinklers are off, so look for a muddy spot or excessive growth or moisture in one area. Most lawns only need about an inch of water a week, so don’t overwater. Even better than a sprinkler system for saving water is drip irrigation, though that’s tough to use for a lawn. If you have an active aerobic septic system, you can use the effluent for watering your flower garden.

For additional ideas on saving water, go to

The story is basically this: change the things you can because small, consistent water-saving measures can really add up. I am not in agriculture (above or below the legal radar), so I cannot easily save thousands of gallons of water, but I can save hundreds of gallons a month. We all can.

Next time I’ll write about roofing (really, I mean it this time). If there’s something you would like me to write about or if you have questions about real estate or property management, feel free to contact me at or visit our website at If you make a suggestion I use, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery & Café. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.

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