Just the facts…
You’ve probably heard plenty of general facts and figures when it comes to the value of water conservation. But, not everyone backs these generalities up with actual numbers, or with the fact that there are two ways to save.
First, and what most people probably are probably most interested in, is the fact that you’ll save money. Utilities go down with water conservation, and depending on the conservation method, these costs can go down significantly.
Second, you can save water itself. Water conservation practices help to save water, which can be more valuable than money in the long term. We don’t often realize just how much water we use on a daily basis, and how conservation can help. So, let’s take a closer look at a few common ways in which we use water, and how we can save in more ways than one.
Saving Water in Subtle Ways
Things like our conservation kits are great ways to improve your water savings. But, you can also make subtle, daily changes that end up making a big difference. On average, every one of us uses about 50 gallons of water a day. There are more obvious ways in which we waste it, such as long showers, washing dishes, washing clothes, etc. But, it also comes from things like frequent toilet flushing, leaky faucets, and outdated plumbing fixtures.
By making a few small changes, you can make a big impact in how much water you save on a daily basis. For example, simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth or shave could save over 10 gallons of water a day!! Additionally, taking shorter showers or only filling up the tub halfway could save 15 gallons a day!!!.
Finally, making sure you don’t have any leaks and installing water-saving appliances can save you hundreds of gallons of water each year. None of these changes have to be overwhelming or take a lot of time.
In reality, it just takes a bit of thought and a few adjustments.
How Much Money Could I Be Saving?
Even though we’re all concerned about the environment, most people want to see savings in their bank account, too.
The good news?
The more water you conserve on a daily basis, the better that bank account will start to look. Most of us rely on a public water source, and for every gallon we use, more money gets tacked onto a monthly bill.
The average cost per gallon of water for a home in the United States is around 15 cents. It may not seem like much, but considering it can take up to six gallons of water just to flush a toilet, the cost starts to add up fairly quickly.
By using some of the tips above, as well as keeping your plumbing up to date, you could be reducing your utility bill as well as your environmental footprint. You can even make a ‘game’ out of your savings by adding up how many gallons you use, figuring out the cost per gallon, and trying to get that number lower and lower each month.
When it comes right down to it…
Water conservation on a grand scale is incredibly important. But, it starts at home. Take comfort in knowing even the smallest changes can have a large impact.
Most people think about treating their lawns with regular watering during the hot summer months. While it’s true that the right watering methods are needed to protect your landscape from the scorching sun, they should also be used to reduce the impact of wasting water during cooler times of year.
So, what is the importance of a smart irrigation timer during the fall? It can have more of an impact than you might think!
As grass prepares itself for cooler temperatures, it pulls in as much moisture and nutrients as possible – think of squirrels storing away nuts for the winter. Your lawn does the same thing, storing nutrients in the roots to keep it strong and healthy year round. Because temperatures in the fall tend to be cooler, and it often rains frequently, it’s a great opportunity for your lawn to hold onto this moisture quickly and easily. Less moisture is being evaporated into the air, too. Less moisture lost, of course, means you don’t need to water as much!
It’s important to calculate the changes that need to be made in order to save water and have a healthy lawn during the autumn season. But, a smart irrigation system can do what a traditional timing system simply can’t – provide a solution that digs deep into the roots, while saving you money and helping to conserve as much water as possible.
Smart Irrigation Timer vs. Traditional System
A smart irrigation timer can make a big difference in how much water you’re using (and potentially wasting) during these cooler months. An irrigation system that is on a traditional timer will go off on a set schedule, no matter what. You could be wasting tons of water in the process! Not only that, but it could quickly lead to overwatering, which will negatively impact the overall health of your lawn.
The idea of a healthy lawn through colder temperatures rests in the fact that the roots should be able to soak up water deep from within the soil. This will allow your lawn to be healthy and strong when Spring rolls around. A smart irrigation timer focuses on deep watering methods, but they are less frequent. Not only does this prevent overwatering, but can conserve water in the process, too. Less waste means more savings for you, and a greener footprint left behind!
Saving Money, Protecting the Environment
Whether you’re just as obsessed with keeping your lawn green in the fall as you are other times of year, or you want to make a change and conserve more water, there is no ‘wrong’ reason to look into a smart irrigation timer. When installed correctly, it can completely change the way you water your landscape.
Taking care of lawns year round may not be at the top of everyone’s radar. But, it’s just as important to pay attention to the health of your landscape in the fall as it is any other time of year. It’s even more important to determine small steps you can take to benefit the environment. If you’re a frequent waterer, making the switch to a smart system can do both.
There are many different motivations for moving toward a ‘smart irrigation‘ lifestyle. Whether you’re worried about the environment, trying to conserve water, or trying to save money while boasting a beautiful lawn, there is no wrong reason to give a smart irrigation timer a try.
But, like many changing aspects of today’s technology, it’s not uncommon to wonder if these controllers really work. Watering the lawn has always been a fairly rudimentary process. Thankfully, all that is beginning to change.
So, do smart irrigation timers really work? The simple answer is ‘yes.’ You can have an awesome experience with these controllers, and achieve a beautiful landscape in the process. The more complicated answer? The success of your experience will likely depend on the controller you choose. Like any other product, not all timers are created equally.
Let’s take a quick look at some different features you should look for when choosing a smart irrigation timer.
Ease of Use
Obviously, you’re not going to be all that interested in setting up a timer if you can’t figure out how to do it. Or, how to get it to work on a daily basis. Timers that are user-friendly are important, because you’ll use them more frequently. After all, that’s what they’re there for!
Many sprinkler companies have taken note of such things, and have made watering your lawn something you can control in the palm of your hand. One of the best options on the market is the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller. It uses a mobile app to offer you complete control over the system. After an initial setup, you can manipulate how much water your land really needs based on things like temperature, soil conditions, and sun exposure.
Programs like the Rachio system and similar ones use their ‘smart’ technology to make watering determinations for you. All you have to do is answer some questions about your lawn and soil zone, and it goes to work to determine the right amount of watering needed. Of course, you’re still in the driver’s seat and can change the controls manually. But, why not let those ‘smart’ resources come into play, and make life just a little easier for you?
It’s important to still remain in control of your sprinkler system, even when it’s supposed to take care of all the work. Not everyone wants to water their lawn every day (and you probably shouldn’t). Unfortunately, not all sprinkler systems are equipped to handle complex scheduling options. Be sure to do your research and determine if the system(s) you’re looking at can handle schedule changes as needed, depending on your specific irrigation zone.
It’s especially important to make sure your system can respond to water restriction limits. The ‘smartest’ of timers won’t water during prohibited times, and you won’t get fined for a machine’s mistake. It’s a win-win.
Though having controls in the palm of your hand through an app is nice, it’s also a good idea to choose a timer that has controls on the device itself, like the Orbit B-Hyve Wifi Sprinkler Timer. While these controllers can be a bit bulkier, it makes it easy for others to take control of your irrigation system as needed. This could be anyone from a family member to your gardener. Conditions change, and your system needs to reflect that. Sometimes, manual changes are necessary, so make sure the option is available.
Choosing the Right Smart Irrigation System
Again, smart irrigation timers not only work well, but they can completely change the way you look at watering your land. They are safe, effective, and offer a great jumping off point to a more environmentally-conscious way of living.
It may sound a bit cliché to suggest that smart irrigation is the ‘way of the future,’ but with things like changing weather conditions and droughts continuously plaguing different parts of the country, it’s our responsibility to put more effort and research into these innovative options. It all starts with choosing the timer that works best to fit your individual needs.
It may seem odd to talk about water conservation when Hurricane Irma recently dumped more than fifteen inches of rain on some areas[ii] and caused water levels to rise seven feet in just ninety minutes elsewhere[iii]. But the quote above neatly describes the irony of being surrounded by a plentiful supply of water that you cannot drink.
In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the plentiful water is, of course, the ocean. But the floodwater engulfing many parts of the Caribbean, Florida and other southern states is just as undrinkable because it is polluted with sewage, salt water, sediment and debris, posing a threat to the health of people, animals and crops. In some areas, this contaminated water has entered the public water supply, causing drinking water shortages.
Even where the water supply is unaffected, it’s important to remember that heavy rainfall does not always mean that there will be plentiful water to drink. During spells of normal rainfall, water soaks into the ground and gradually seeps deeper into underground aquifers – large areas of porous rock that hold water[iv] . During hurricanes or other heavy storms, the ground can’t soak up the water quickly enough and much of it runs off into rivers and oceans, laden with sediment and pollutants collected along the way. Heavy, infrequent rainfall delivers less water to the aquifers, which are relied upon to supply millions of people with drinking water, than steady, frequent showers.
Add to this the damage to infrastructure, such as storage tanks and water treatment facilities, caused by hurricanes, storm surges and floods and it’s clear that an excess of water can actually lead to a shortage of water!
Water conservation is the new normal
If you’re in an area affected by flooding or storms, it’s important to heed instructions from your local water supplier. Continue to boil water and limit flushing water into the sanitary system until restrictions are lifted.
Whether or not you’ve been directly affected this time, you can help to reduce the impact of future weather events such as floods or droughts by using only the water you need. You can find many online resources to help you save water and lower your bills (try here or here).
If you are really serious about water conservation, you might even follow the example of South African politician Helen Zille, who has recently revealed that she showers only every third day[v]. Although some people have expressed shock at the revelation, others have praised her response to the serious water shortages in the Western Cape Province.
However you do it, conserving water is an increasingly important way of life not only in the US but across the globe.
[i] Lines from “ The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The mariner, on board a becalmed ship, is surrounded by salt water that he cannot drink.
We tend to celebrate a lot of things in the fall – it’s the kickoff of the holiday season, there are a ton of activities to take part in, and even if we claim to love summer, there is something to be said about the slight ‘chill’ in the air that can really make you feel comfortable. One thing that doesn’t often cross our minds during this colorful season, however, is the energy we’re using, and how we could be doing ‘better’ with it.
October is actually National Energy Awareness Month. So, what does that really mean? For starters, it means just as much as we want it to because the ‘awareness’ level really starts with you!
Each year, the Department of Energy chooses a different theme or topic for awareness month, and this year they are focusing on both energy, and water conservation. With droughts plaguing so many parts of the country, it seems to be a fitting theme to bring recognition to, especially when it comes to helpful tips for what we can do.
What Can You Do To Help Save Energy This Fall
For starters, conserving energy begins at home. The easiest place to start when you think about the cooler weather? Heating units. Not only will furnaces and heaters kick on almost full-time in the fall, causing electric bills to skyrocket, but you may be pumping out more heat than you actually need. A few tips can help to make your home more efficient, even if you don’t have the budget to buy a completely energy-efficient heater.
First of all, before the cold weather kicks in, be sure to have your furnace looked at by a professional. If possible, ask them to clean it for you. If you have dirty air filters, it can slow the airflow, which will make your unit have to work even harder. The harder it works, the more energy it burns. Next, make sure your home is properly insulated, including windows and doors. This will keep heat from escaping, and can give your furnace a break from time to time.
However, the best thing you can do to make sure your bills stay down, and energy stays up, is to equip yourself with energy-efficient appliances. Buying a new heating unit might seem like a big investment at first – but it’s just that. It won’t take long before your heating bills reflect the savings, and the unit will pay for itself. On top of that, energy-efficient appliances are making a major mark on energy consumption throughout the world. If everyone switched to them, we could reduce electricity consumption across the globe by over 10% – such a small change, but such a big impact.
So, be sure to ‘energize’ your home this autumn as much as possible, by keeping the cool air out, and the comfortable air inside. Don’t be afraid to do what you can to bring awareness to the energy crisis we’re currently facing, and do your part in educating others to take the same steps throughout these cooler seasons.
More often than not, people tend to think taking steps toward energy conservation, and living a ‘greener’ lifestyle have to be huge, grand gestures and acts. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While yes, taking larger initiatives toward a greener tomorrow is always a great idea, sometimes the small things add up just as much, and they tend to be habits you can get into every single day. Over time, that’s a lot of energy conservation to be proud of. The best part? When you make small changes in your day-to-day life, they become habits you can live with forever. Making these smarter choices and changes can make more of an impact than you may realize.
So, what can you actually do today to help conserve energy? The options are honestly pretty endless. With hundreds of small choices and changes in mind, let’s take a look at some simple ones that can get you started down a positive path toward a brighter, and more energy-efficient future.
In The Home
- Wash your clothes in cold water, not hot. If you do this just twice a week, you can save over 500 pounds of CO2 each year.
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances, such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators. Always make sure your fridge is on the lowest possible setting for coldness, without getting to the freezing mark.
- Get as much as you can out of every load of laundry, and every load of dishes in the dishwasher. Fill both to a suitable amount each time, instead of just washing a few things at a time.
- Try to find alternative methods of transportation each day – from biking, walking, or taking public transit, to simply carpooling with others. With every gallon of gasoline saved, you’re also saving 22 pounds of CO2 emissions.
- Be conscious of the products you’re buying on a daily basis, including food, and how it’s packaged. Try to choose packaging that’s able to be reused, instead of thrown out right away. Plastics are a great option that can get recycled again and again.
- One of the most responsible things you can do, no matter where you live, is keep track of your local government. Is there an election coming up? Do some research on your local candidates when it comes to their stance on environmental protection. Or, contact your local congressman about steps they can take to bring awareness to the issue.
- You can also work to start different organizations or outreach programs in your community, or even through your place of employment. Plant trees, organize a trash clean-up day, etc.
These simple steps are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conserving energy, and ensuring a better, cleaner future for the next generation. The best part is that most of these, and hundreds of additional ideas, can save you money, time, and require very little effort. A few smart decisions today, can create a world of difference tomorrow.