Unfortunately, droughts have been a frequent topic of conversation over the last several years. They’ve been an especially hot topic in the state of California. While it’s easy to ‘forget’ about the dangers of a drought when we’re not in one, they can be pretty scary when you’re in the middle of one! Thankfully, there are things you can do during a drought that will help conserve water.
The good news?
These quick tips hardly take any extra effort. It’s all about making small changes to how you use water every single day. During a drought, everyone has to do their part to save as much water as possible. Use these suggestions to step up and make sure you’re doing what you need to in order to keep the water supply at a safe level.
Run Full Loads of Laundry and Dishes
It’s easy to toss in a few pieces of laundry to make sure you have something to wear the next day. Or, to load up a few after-dinner dishes in the dishwasher and run a cycle. Instead of doing this, wait until you have a full load for each of these appliances. You’ll run them less frequently, and subsequently get more items clean at once!
Install Water-Friendly Devices
Things like low-flow showerheads and toilets should be standard fare in states like California, where droughts have become more frequent. You can also install an aerator on things like kitchen faucets. It can help to reduce the amount of water that comes out of the faucet to one gallon per minute. That’s a significant savings when you’re washing your dishes by hand!
Adjust Your Sprinklers
Setting up your irrigation system the right way can save a lot of water and can put it to better use. First, water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening, when temperatures are cooler. This will lower the amount of water evaporation. You should also adjust your sprinklers to make sure they’re only watering your lawn/plants. Some sprinklers are faced in such a way that they’re essentially watering sidewalks. That’s a huge waste of water and something that can be easily remedied.
Fix Your Leaks
You might not think a leaking faucet or showerhead is that big of a deal. But, even a few drips here and there can add up to hundreds (even thousands!) of gallons of water each year. Not only are you throwing money down the drain, but those are valuable gallons that could be used more effectively elsewhere.
There are several ways to conserve water while you’re taking a shower. It starts with jumping in right away instead of waiting a few minutes for the water to warm up. Yes, it might be uncomfortable for a minute or two but, some studies have shown that cool or cold showers actually have certain health benefits! If you really don’t want to step into cold water while it heats up, you can use it to brush your teeth. Stand outside the shower and utilize the cooler water to brush your teeth while it warms.
Once you’re actually in the shower, reduce your time! If you typically take 10-minute showers, lower it to 5, etc. You can even make a game out of it with your whole family, seeing how ‘low’ you can get your shower time.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to make a big difference during a drought. If everyone in the state of California (and beyond) followed these simple tips, water levels may not be such a huge concern all the time. Don’t wait for someone else to start the trend – you can make these changes today!
Spring has finally sprung, and for a lot of people, that means planting beautiful gardens. Whether you’re more of a ‘stop and smell the flowers’ kind of person, or you like the gratification of a rich vegetable garden, you know how important it is to care for your plants on a daily basis. Of course, that involves regularly watering them.
Gardens probably aren’t the first thing we think about when it comes to saving water. But, there are a lot of little things you can do to conserve water, and keep your garden growing and thriving all Spring and Summer long. Let’s take a look at some of the easiest ways to get started, so you can put these tips into place as soon as you start your Spring planting.
Add a Layer of Mulch
Mulch can add a decorative look to your garden, but it actually works to slow the evaporation of water. Just 2-3 inches of mulch on top of your soil will help the soil itself retain moisture longer, meaning you’ll need to water less often. As a bonus, mulching over your soil will also reduce the number of weeds that poke through!
Water at the Right Time
Most people water their gardens when it’s most convenient. Maybe you have a certain time of day you like to turn on the hose or sprinkler. Or, maybe you just water everything when you get a bit of extra time. If you’re able to, try watering your in-ground plants in the morning, and potted plants in the afternoon. Not only will this lead to healthier plants, but you’ll reduce the amount of water evaporation, meaning you won’t need to water as often.
Choose the Right Plants
It can be tempting to buy flowers that will look great, even if they aren’t native to your area. Unfortunately, those flowers require a lot more attention and care. As a result, you’ll probably be watering them more. Native plants require less care and can hold up well to the natural environment you live in. You won’t likely have to water them as much in order for them to thrive. If you’re unsure about which native plants would look the best, ask an employee at your local garden center! Not only will you use less water, but it won’t take as much work to have a beautiful, colorful garden.
Implementing a rain barrel is a great way to make the most out of what Mother Nature gives you. You can choose to install a complex rain collection system if you plan on using the water for other things. But, a simple rain barrel and a filter to get rid of any debris is suitable for watering your garden plants, flowers, and veggies. Even a few extra gallons here and there can save you money and reduce water waste from a hose.
As you can see, these are simple tips that don’t take a lot of time or effort to put into place. The time to get started is now, before your Spring garden is in full bloom. Once you start using helpful practices like these, you won’t have to think twice about saving water through your garden every season.
Spring is finally here! Along with warmer weather and blooming blossoms, it’s time to freshen things up. Many people do a little ‘Spring cleaning’ this time of year in order to make their home feel more open and comfortable for the warmer months. It’s easy to get motivated when the sun is out and the weather is nice.
Did you know some of your Spring cleaning chores can also help you to save energy (and money)? If you’re already cleaning up around the house, be sure to add these four energy-saving tips to your list. Once you check them off, you’ll feel better about doing something good for the environment, and you’ll see the savings through the entire year.
Change the Direction of Ceiling Fans
You’ll probably be running your ceiling fans quite a bit as the weather warms up. Many people give the fan blades a good dusting this time of year. While you’re up there, you should also change the direction they rotate. Ceiling fans should spin counter-clockwise in Spring and Summer to help circulate cool air throughout each room.
Clean Your Vents
Does winter ever leave you feeling plugged up and congested? Imagine how your air ducts must feel. Cleaning out air ducts and vents may not be at the top of everyone’s Spring cleaning list. But, if you clean out the dust and dirt that collected in them over the winter, you’ll be able to breathe better the rest of the year. This will also help your cooling system so it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump colder air through the house. As a result, your cooling unit should last longer.
Switch Your Light bulbs
If you’ve been neglecting those burnt out bulbs all winter but you’re going around the house putting new ones in now, make sure they are energy-efficient bulbs! While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to change all the light bulbs in your house to LED bulbs. You’ll get the same amount of light and use a lot less energy. You’ll also immediately start to see savings in your electric bill.
LED bulbs can be a bit expensive up front. But, they tend to last longer, and pay for themselves with the money you’ll save on utilities.
Have Your HVAC Serviced
Your heating and cooling system worked overtime for you all winter, so now is the time to make sure everything is running properly and will continue to do so. This might not necessarily be a ‘Spring cleaning’ item for you, but having an HVAC specialist come to your home to check on your heating and cooling unit might mean they have to do some cleaning. If you have an outdoor air conditioner, things like leaves, sticks, and other debris can build up around the unit and cause it not to work as efficiently. You can also do your part by regularly changing out the filter on your system.
We hope these tips give you a few more ideas when it comes to tidying up this season. They don’t take long to do, and will benefit you, your family, and your utility bills!
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, water management refers to ‘the control and movement of water resources to minimize damage to life and property, and to maximize efficient beneficial use.’
So, what does that actually mean, and why is water management so important? Water management uses the water resources we already have to think about the future. It requires a lot of planning, but an equal amount of action. Because water isn’t as abundant of a natural resource as it once was, water policies have been put into place to help us manage it in the best ways possible. By doing this, we’re creating a more sustainable future and a less-threatening present for our environment.
How Can I Manage Water at Home?
Though water management is typically done on an industrial scale and is cleared through rules and regulations by the government, starting small in your own home is a great way to make an impact. You might not think you’re doing much, but if everyone kept a few of these water management tips in mind for their own home, it would leave a huge mark in conserving our water resources.
So, what can you do immediately to start a water management system of your own? Let’s look at a few easy tips:
- One of the best ways to manage water at home is to determine where you might be losing or wasting it. For example, did you know your toilet could be leaking? Most people don’t. A good way to test this is to add a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank water. If it goes into the bowl before you’ve flushed, it’s leaking and wasting water. Leaky toilets, faucets, and any irrigation systems should all be tested regularly and replaced as needed. It’s a quick fix that will save you money and manage your water better instantly.
- Try to avoid using water when other means can work just as well. For example, instead of spraying away dirt and debris from your sidewalk with a hose, use a broom. There are many places – especially when cleaning – where water is used unnecessarily.
- Turn water management into a game when it comes to your daily routine. That way, you can get the entire family involved. Create a water management plan for the family that includes things like turning off the water when you brush your teeth or taking showers instead of baths. You can designate ‘winners’ based on who comes up with new ideas for water management, or by how much the water bill gets lowered, etc. The more you can get your children involved in the process, the easier it will be for them to carry on water management practices in their own lives.
As you can see, water management doesn’t have to stick to a huge corporate scale. While it’s important that the government and huge industries develop water management plans, it starts at home and can be just as effective in the long run. These are tips that you can put to good use right away, and start making a difference immediately.
In a previous blog, we talked about the importance and benefits of collecting rainwater. Unfortunately, far too many people aren’t taking advantage of these great benefits because they think rainwater harvesting has to be a big, complicated operation. On a small scale, it can be as simple as gathering rainwater in a barrel and filtering it.
But, it’s also not difficult to create an incredible rainwater collection system at home. You can use the water for everything from irrigation and watering your garden, to washing your car or even cleaning around the house! Plus, collecting your own water can help you save hundreds of dollars, and is a great way to help the environment. So, if you’re interested in creating your own simple rainwater collection system, keep reading for a step-by-step guide.
- Gather Your Supplies
You can buy rain barrels online, but if you’re on a budget, you can even use a clean plastic trash bin as a perfectly acceptable barrel. For this particular harvesting system, you’ll also need two downspout extenders, a bulkhead fitting, a drain valve and a tube of gutter sealant.
Thankfully, all of these supplies can be found at just about any hardware store, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting started right away!
- Use the Downspout Extenders
The downspout extenders you choose should almost have an accordion-style look to them. This makes it easy to attach them to your downspouts and directly into a hole you’ll cut into the top of the rain barrel. The hole should be just big enough for the extender to fit in snugly.
- Secure the Spout
Use the bulkhead fitting, the drain valve and the gutter sealant to make sure the valve at the bottom of your barrel stays in place. Again, you’ll want to create a hole near the bottom part of the barrel that’s big enough for the valve, but not so big that it will fall out over time. The gutter sealant will really help to keep it in place, so make sure you’re generous with how much you use surrounding the valve.
- Easy Storage
Keep in mind that this is one of the simpler solutions for collecting rain water. You should always have some sort of screen or filtration device attached to your rain barrel if you plan on using it for things like washing dishes or other uses within the home. If you’re collecting water from your gutters, things like leaves and other debris can create problems if you’re not cleaning them regularly.
The best part about this system is that it’s easy to use and easy to store. In the winter months, you can remove the downspout extenders and store the rain barrel away. There are no complicated systems or pipes to worry about. It’s a great way to get started collecting rainwater that would otherwise literally be sliding down your gutters.
We hope this simple plan for rainwater collection will help you to get started on doing your part for the environment right away. Spring is in the air, and it’s the perfect time to create a simple collection system of your own. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may even find that you’re excited to build an even bigger and better system!
Why is It Important?
On a global scale, our world is running low on water. It’s hard to believe or even fathom, but projections have suggested that by the year 2030, our demand for water will be greater than the supply. It can be a scary thought, but it’s also a strong motivational tool to make everyone more aware of their water footprint.
If you’ve never heard of a water footprint, now is the time to jump on board and understand what it means. The great thing about water footprints is that they are effective for everyone; individuals, small businesses, huge corporations, and even entire countries! The more in tune we are with our overall water footprints, the more we can strategize on how to conserve water and be more efficient with our water use.
What Are the Types of Water Footprints?
The Water Footprint Network has broken down water footprints into three different categories. These categories make it a little easier to determine how water can be used and reused, affecting the overall impact on the environment. The three types of water footprints are:
- Blue: Water that is either sourced from the ground or the surface. It’s either evaporated, used to create a new product, or is taken from one body of water and used in another. It can be used right away in a different body of water or saved for another time.
- Green: A green water footprint focuses on rainwater. It’s stored in the root systems of soil and is particularly useful for agricultural purposes.
- Grey: A grey water footprint deals with wastewater and pollution. It focuses on how much fresh water is needed in order to ‘flush out’ pollutants, on local and state levels.
Why Are Water Footprints Important?
Billions of people go without fresh drinking water every single day. Unfortunately, if current trends continue that number will grow. What we don’t often think about is how a shortage in water might affect other things. It goes far beyond an individual level.
For example, consider how much water it might take to create a product, or to grow crops to feed everyone in the United States alone. The less water that’s available, the harder it will be for those products to be made or those crops to grow. That means the prices for those things will skyrocket. Less people will be able to afford them.
A shortage of water, as you can see, affects the entire economy. It also affects our energy storage, since it takes energy to pump out clean water and filter away pollutants. Time, money, and resources all come into play when it comes to water conservation. Understanding more about a water footprint on every level can help to ensure things like this don’t happen. If they do, it could eventually be catastrophic for the whole world.
Water footprints affect all of us on both an indirect and eventually a direct level. The more we can strategize on how to conserve water and be more efficient with our water use. Before you, as an individual, have a chance to see the negative direct effects, it’s important to get a firm grasp on how you can monitor your own water footprint.