Saving water is good for most people’s budgets. Even if you don’t pay directly for your water use (your utilities are included in your rent, for example), using less water is the environmentally conscious thing to do.
We here in Los Angeles are about to get a crash course in water conservation. The city will impose mandatory conservation and “shortage year water rates” June 1. For our family, that means paying a higher rate for water unless we cut back consumption by 15%. (If you’re in Los Angeles, you can check your account at www.ladwp.com to see how much water you can use before higher rates kick in.)
We’ve already done the easy stuff. We run the clothes washer and (water-saving) dishwasher only when full. We shut off the tap while brushing teeth. We fix leaky faucets promptly.
To drop the water bill even more, we’ve:
Switched to two days of automatic sprinkling a week, instead of three. This will be required as of June 1, but we’re getting an early start. Any plants that start to droop in the heat can be watered via garden hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle.
Closed the driveway car wash. Our daughter loves to help suds the cars, but commercial washes are way more water-thrifty. She’ll be content with just vacuuming the cars, which she also loves to do.
Started using the low-flow switch. When we repiped our house awhile back, the company we used installed a type of shower faucet that allows you to regulate the water pressure–from full throttle to a trickle and back again–with a lever on the faucet handle. This reminds me of the “Army showers” we took growing up on a farm, where the water supply was–shall we say–less than reliable. You hose down, turn the shower off or down while you soap up, then turn it back on to rinse.
Put a bucket in the shower. The water heater’s at the other end of the house, so it takes a minute or two for the water to warm up. Someday we may go tankless, but in the meantime we can collect the cold water and dump it on the plants.
Some other things we’re considering:
Stripping the turf. Not from the whole yard, but from the curb strip at least. Several of our neighbors have torn up the grass and re-landscaped their strips with drought-tolerant plants and bark or decomposed granite.
A rain barrel. A great way to collect runoff, but it has to be aesthetically pleasing (for my artist husband) and relatively cheap (for me). So far, we haven’t found one that fits the bill.