Prolonged drought is one of the hallmarks of a warming climate. Texas has been in the grips of widespread drought since late 2010. California remains in an almost constant state of drought. And diverse places worldwide are experiencing record temperatures and diminishing water reserves. One of the reasons why we’re running out of water? Because we waste a lot of it — not just by taking epic showers and being obsessed with grassy lawns, but by relying on outdated, inefficient water management systems built to move water away rather than keep it where it’s needed.
And it’s understandable. Many of us don’t think about the resources we use and how this use has a longer-term impact on the Earth. But as always, we’ve got you covered. To help upgrade your water efficiency, we’ve put together seven tips to help you and your family save water in the summer.
1. Time your watering
It’s no secret that our lawns can either burn up or go dormant to protect themselves in the summer heat. Some of us allow the property to go brown in the summer, but others enjoy a green lawn year-round. If you are part of the latter faction, paying attention to your watering times is worth it. Because water evaporates quickly when the sun is high, try to water when it’s more likely to stay in the soil. In the summer months, this tends to be in the very early morning hours. Another tip is to ensure you’re watering your yard, not the sidewalk or driveway. A drip irrigation system works better than sprinklers, as it sends targeted amounts of water exactly where you want it.
2. Shorten your showers
Here at SaltyLama, we believe in freshness. We know it’s understandable to take a few extra showers to keep that freshness intact when it's warm. But these additional showers can use much more water than you realize. In the summer months, trimming just two minutes off your shower can save up to 1,750 gallons of water per person in your household each year. While most newer shower heads are flow efficient, it’s worth the trouble to check for the water sustainability rating on your shower heads. Another easy trick is to turn the water off while you soap and shave. You can also capture wasted water while you wait for the shower to warm up by collecting it in a bucket — use it for watering plants. If you plan to reuse soapy water in your garden, make sure your soap is safe for plants.
3. Take advantage of the dishwasher
Handwashing is highly ineffective the way most people do it. Between the sink full of water and the rinse water, handwashing uses more H2O than needed to clean dishes effectively. Handwashing your dishes can use up to twenty-seven gallons of water, compared to just three gallons for a new Energy Star-rated dishwasher. If you prepare at least two meals a day for a family of four, you can save more than seventy-five percent in energy and water costs by running your dishwasher instead of washing your dishes. This can save you money on utility bills just by using your dishwasher. And as they say, “time is money” — and using a dishwasher can save you thirty minutes on average. That means you can save nearly ten days of personal time per year by letting your dishwasher do the work instead of handwashing.
4. Cover the pool
The Earth is hot right now, so it makes sense that animals (including humans) seek ways to stay cool, including heading to the local watering hole. If you are one of the lucky folks to own a pool, ensure it is as water efficient as possible. Cover it when you're not using it, even in the summer, to prevent evaporation. This will save you water and money by maintaining your pool at its optimum level. It will also keep leaves and debris out as a bonus.
5. Collect rainwater
Another great way to save and conserve water? Collect the water that streams off your roof when it rains by setting up a rain barrel underneath your gutter’s downspout. Reuse that water in your garden instead of letting it push motor oil, pet waste, and garbage from the streets into local rivers. Rain barrels are one of several smart strategies that catch or soak up rainwater where it falls. Green roofs, porous pavement, rain gardens, and other water-saving techniques are called green infrastructure. More cities and property owners are investing in this strategy — instead of spending billions on new tanks, tunnels, and traditional water infrastructure — to save water and reduce pollution.
6. Choose the carwash over the driveway
Summertime is the perfect time to hit the strip with a clean car! But a clean car means a car wash for most of us, and a car wash means car wash water. But no worries, we’ve got a tip to help you hit the streets clean and in style. Washing a car at home can easily use 100 gallons of water, not to mention a lot of time and effort. Commercial car washes often use only forty gallons or less of fresh water, saving you time and energy in the summer sun.
7. Wash larger loadsIn the summer months, it’s not out of the question to take mid-day showers and perform a wardrobe change, meaning more laundry and more water. And in addition to water, washing machines also use large amounts of energy and detergents. So, to save water and energy, always run your washing machine on a full load. You will save ten liters of water each wash.
In short, be aware of how much water you are using and attempt to reuse it when possible. Not only does this save you money on your monthly utility bill, but it also helps us all stretch our limited resources further and for longer. Happy watering, friends.