50 Ways to be Water Smart
From the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
In Your Home
1. Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. Use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
2. Make sure your home is leak-free. Check your water meter when you are certain that no water is being used. If the meter reading changes, you have a leak!
3. Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year!
4. Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
5. Check for toilet leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If you have a leak, the color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. (Flush immediately to avoid stains.)
6. If the toilet handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
7. Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. (Don’t use a brick! There are devices available at most hardware and home centers.) Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts. Consider low-volume toilets which use less than half the water of older models. NOTE: In many areas, low-volume units are required by law.
8. Take shorter showers. Replace your shower head with an ultra-low-flow version.
9. Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water to water plants.
10. In the shower, turn water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn the water back on to rinse off. Repeat when washing your hair.
11. Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of load you are using.
12. When hand washing dishes, save water by filling two containers – one with soapy water, one with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.
13. Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don’t let the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.
14. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
15. Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste.
16. Do not waste water waiting for it to get hot. Capture it for other uses such as plant watering or heat it on the stove or in a microwave.
17. Consider installing an instant hot water heater on your sink and insulating your water pipes.
18. Think twice about installing a water-toair heat pump or air-conditioning system. Newer air-to-air models are just as efficient and do not waste water.
19. Don’t let water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving.
20. Install water softening systems only when necessary. Turn softeners off while on vacation.
21. If you have a well at home, check your pump periodically. If the pump kicks on and off while water is not being used, you have a leak.
22. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
Saving Water Outdoors
23. Don’t over water your lawn. Lawns only need watering every five to seven days in the summer, and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A heavy rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks. Buy a rain gauge. Most of the year, lawns only need one inch of water per week.
24. Plant it smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and irrigation system. It will save time, money and water.
25. Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste.
26. Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas.
27. Install irrigation devices that are the most water efficient for each use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of efficient devices.
28. Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly to be sure they operate properly. Florida law now requires that “anyone who purchases and installs an automatic lawn sprinkler system MUST install a rain sensor device or switch which will override the irrigation cycle when adequate rainfall has occurred.”
29. Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches, or to its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture.
30. Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Applying fertilizer increases the need for water. Apply fertilizers which contain slowrelease, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
31. Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. (Help preserve native cypress forests by selecting other types of mulch such as treated melaleuca.) Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
32. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. They also require less fertilizer or herbicides. Group plants together based on similar water needs.
33. Use a broom or blower instead of a hose to clean leaves and other debris from your driveway or sidewalk.
34. Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose which can be adjusted down to a fine spray, so that water flows only as needed. When finished, turn it off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle, to avoid leaks. Check hose connectors to make sure plastic or rubber washers are in place. Washers prevent leaks.
35. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours. Use a bell timer to remind yourself to turn sprinklers off.
36. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys which require a constant stream of water.
37. Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass and use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
38. Avoid installing ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless they use recycled water.
39. If you have a swimming pool, consider a new water-saving pool filter. A single backflushing with a traditional filter uses 180 to 250 gallons of water.
General Water Saving Tips
40. Participate in public water conservation meetings conducted by your local government, utility or water management district.
41. Follow water conservation and water shortage rules in effect. Even if your water comes from a private well – you are included in restrictions.
42. Encourage your employer to promote water conservation in the workplace.
43. Patronize businesses which practice water conservation, such as restaurants that only serve water upon request.
44. Report water losses (broken pipes, open hydrants, errant sprinklers, abandoned free-flowing wells, etc.) to the property owner, local authorities or your water management district.
45. Encourage your school system and local government to help develop and promote a water conservation ethic.
46. Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed waste water for irrigation and other uses.
47. Support efforts that create a concern for water conservation among tourists.
48. Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bulletin boards and by example. Encourage your friends, neighbors and co-workers to “be water smart.”
49. Conserve water because it is the right thing to do – even when someone else is footing the bill, such as when you are staying at a hotel.
50. Try to do one thing each day that will result in saving water. Every drop counts!
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