Thousands of gallons–and lots of dollars–are likely wasted in your home each day. Help preserve planet Earth’s resources, and cut your water bill at the same time.
Flush a toilet, brush your teeth, heat a kettle for tea, and it’s easy to understand why the average Denver household uses about 85 gallons of water per day, according to Denver Water. Leave the water running or forget to repair a leaky hose, and that number could soar.
Of course, using water-efficient appliances and fixtures, and changing your habits, can greatly reduce the amount of water you use. And, with the region entering the second year of a serious drought, there are imminent concerns driving more people in semi-arid Denver to do just that.
In late March, Denver Water declared a Stage 2 drought for the first time since 2002. That means the 1.3 million residents in its service area can no longer leisurely water flower beds or deep-soak their lawns. As of April 1, there will be a mandatory watering schedule—only twice a week on assigned days. The water utility is also enacting a drought pricing structure to encourage less water use during this period.
Denver Water says it will need to save 16,000 gallons of water by next spring, or it will move forward to a Stage 3 drought declaration, which would ban outdoor lawn watering altogether.
Here are some ways to save water, potentially reduce your bills, and do your part to help conserve the region’s water supplies:
Minimize water use indoors. If you’re buying new appliances, select water-efficient models marked with a WaterSense label, an EPA-backed program identifying products that are 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance. Denver Water offers incentives and rebates to purchase some models. Some other tips:
- Swap out toilets: The biggest water hogs, toilets account for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water use. Consider replacing an existing toilet with a WaterSense model, which is reported to help a family of four save $2,000 in water bills over a toilet’s life. Regardless of the model, try flushing less often.
- Enjoy showers: Take showers instead of baths. The EPA says that a full bathtub can require up to 70 gallons of water, while a five-minute shower might only use 10 to 25. Replacing an existing shower head with a water-efficient design (a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute) can also help.
- Check for leaks: Leaks can account for up to 10,000 gallons of wasted water in your home each year, according to the EPA. Fixing easily corrected leaks, like constantly running toilets and dripping faucets and shower heads, can save more than 10 percent on your water bill, the EPA says.
- Insulate pipes: Insulating the pipes that deliver hot water from your water heater can increase the delivered water temperature to your faucets, reducing the need to run them until the hot water “comes in”.
Outdoor water use during drought conditions. More than half of residential water used daily in Denver occurs outdoors—more than in many other areas; here’s how to cut the amount:
- Xeriscape: Xeriscaping is a type of landscape design that minimizes the need for irrigation. Consider Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association’s xeriscape principles, which include proper soil preparation, efficient irrigation, practical turf areas, and good maintenance.
- Select drought-tolerant and native materials. Look for plant types that require less water and fertilizer. Some smart choices include: snapdragon, lobelia, heliotrope, coral bells, hungwort, clematis.
- Reduce water-guzzling lawn: If you enjoy grass, keep it restricted to essential areas like a play area for kids, and consider seeding with new, more drought-tolerant fescue varieties.
- Pick permeable paving: Many attractive yards now feature a lot of hardscape. Consider crushed and pea gravel, bricks, and interlocking pavers, which allow water to filter into the ground, over a nonporous material like asphalt.
- Water manually: While tedious, it’s more efficient. You get the water closer to the plants’ roots, minimize the potential of evaporation, and, according to the EPA, you use 33 percent less water than with automatic irrigation systems.
- Use a drip sprinkler: If you don’t go manual, be sure the spray head delivers water directly to roots; add a weather-based control that shuts off when it rains. Also, consider whether existing drip systems need to continue watering mature, established plants or trees; you might consider relocating or adjusting your existing setup.
Water’s precious. Let’s all do our part to use less, and preserve it.
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