The heat and humidity outside skyrocket so it feels like 110 outside. Your yard is turning brown from the excessive heat. You decide to water the yard to get it looking green again. Plus, your kids get to play in the sprinkler to cool off, too! Sounds great, right? But did you know you are essentially wasting water and running up your water bills?
During the hot Texas summers, watering your yard is a big water waster. Most of the water evaporates quickly and does not even make it into the ground. On top of that, most homeowners overwater their yards, wasting even more water. They run their sprinklers every day in hopes of preventing their green yards from turning brown.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), people use between 30 and 70 percent of their household water usage outdoors during the summertime.1 What you may not know is your grass does not need to be watered every day. Grass can survive with as little as one inch of water per week.
So, if it rains during the week, you don’t need to water your lawn. If you do need to water your lawn, do it in the evening when there is less direct sunlight. While the City of Houston does allow you to water your yard twice a week, there really is no need to do so. Once per week is sufficient and helps conserve water.
You can also let your grass grow a little longer and not cut it as often. Longer grass retains more water and will remain greener than grass that is cut short. You can adjust the setting on your lawn mower to raise the blades so your grass is always several inches long.
Outdoor Water Usage Statistics
Most people are surprised when they see these statistics compiled by the EPA and do not even realize how much water they are wasting:1
- S. households use around 29 billion gallons of water daily.
- Almost 9 billion of the 29 billion gallons used each day is for outdoor usage, mostly for watering yards.
- More than 50% of outdoor water usage is wasted due to overwatering.
- S. households average around 320 gallons of water per day, except in the summer.
- In summer, household usage jumps as much to 1,000 gallons, on average, with some households using 3,000 or more gallons each day!
- 3,000 gallons of water is the equivalent of leaving a faucet running continuously for 8 hours!
Ways to Conserve Water Around Your Home
If everyone does their part to conserve water during the summer months, not only can they lower their water bills, they also will help the environment. Aside from not watering your yard, let’s look at some different areas inside and outside your home where you could cut back on water usage.
- Get rid of your grass. Instead of grass, landscape with decorative pebbles, rocks, and plants that need little water to survive. For instance, cacti and pineapple are both plants that have low watering requirements. You could also opt for artificial grass if you must have that grass-like look and feel.
- Use rubber mulch to help retain water. In flower beds and other areas, fill in around plants, bushes, and shrubs with rubber mulch. Rubber mulch is eco-friendly, does not decay, and comes in a variety of colors. Plus it will help trap moisture and reduce evaporation so you won’t need to water your outdoor plants as often.
- Do not use your power washer or hose to clean sidewalks. Sweep away dirt, leaves, and other debris with a broom.
- Put off power washing tasks until fall, winter, or spring. If you need to reseal your deck or get mold or mildew off your siding, do these things at another time of the year.
- Check for leaks and have them repaired. Make sure outdoor faucets aren’t dripping and your sprinkler system or heads aren’t leaking water. If they are, have your plumber fix them right away.
- Limit car washing to once or twice a month or not at all. Keeping your car clean can be a priority. Yet, in the summer to conserve water, you should cut down on how often you do it. If you do wash your car, do it early in the morning or in the evening hours.
- Use a cover over your pool to reduce water evaporation. You should keep a cover over your pool so you do not have to fill it with water as often.
- Collect rainwater in a big barrel. Instead of allowing rainwater to run down your gutters and into the ground, you can collect it and use it for other things, like washing your car, filling your pool, or watering your plants on dry days.
- Shut off the water while brushing your teeth. Many of us have the bad habit of leaving the water running while we brush our teeth. There is no reason to do so. If you need to rinse while brushing, turn the water on, rinse, and shut it back off.
- Avoid washing dishes by hand. People waste more water when they wash dishes by hand than putting them in a dishwasher. For non-dishwasher-safe items, try to avoid using them in the summer months. Otherwise, use as little water as possible to wash them.
- Do not leave the water running while hand-washing dishes. If you don’t have a dishwasher, avoid leaving the water constantly running while you wash dishes. Stack up the washed dishes and, when you are done, then turn on the water to rinse them.
- Collect the dish rinse water into a big plastic tub and reuse it. You can use the rinse water from your dishes for other things around the home, like washing your car, cleaning, mopping the floor, and so on.
- Only run the dishwasher when it is full. There is no reason to run a half-filled dishwasher, as this wastes water and electricity.
- Only run the washing machine when you have a full load of clothes. Just like your dishwasher, there is no reason to do small loads. Make sure to maximize your water usage by only running it when it is full.
- Upgrade your dishwasher and washing machine to water-conserving models. If your dishwasher or washing machine is more than ten years old, you may want to get new ones. New models offer both energy-saving and water-saving features.
- Have your plumber install aerators on faucets and low-flow showerheads. Both of these items will reduce the amount of water you use.
- Take showers instead of baths. Showers use less water than baths. If you must soak in the tub after a stressful day, don’t waste that water. You can use it to water outdoor plants and vegetation or wash your car.
- Upgrade the flush mechanism on your toilets to low-flush handles. If you have an older toilet that uses around six gallons per flush, you can reduce water usage with a low-flush handle.
- Place a plastic bottle filled with sand inside the back of the toilet. Raising the water level inside an old toilet will also help reduce the amount of water used per flush.
- Upgrade to a low-flush toilet. You could also upgrade your toilet to a new model if you are due for one.
- Only flush when necessary. You don’t have to flush the toilet every time you use it unless there is an actual waste to flush away. You can use it two or three times before flushing it.
- Replace a tank-based hot water heater with a tankless hot water heater. Tankless hot water heaters provide hot water on demand and can help reduce water usage.
- Reuse water from cooking when possible. For example, when you cook pasta or boil eggs, don’t dump the water down the sink. Instead, drain it into a plastic tub and use it to water your plants.
- Don’t use your garbage disposal. Rather than putting food waste down the disposal, start a composting pile you can use to fertilize your plants.
- Have any water drips, leaks, or other plumbing problems fixed. Slow drips and leaks can waste a lot of water in a short period of time.
Be Aware of Drought Conditions and Notices
In addition to taking steps to conserve water around your home, it is a good idea to monitor drought conditions and related notices issued by the City of Houston. These updates often contain useful and valuable information regarding outdoor water usage and watering your lawn and other great tips on how to reduce water usage.
To have plumbing improvements made to reduce water usage, or for help finding and repairing leaks and other plumbing problems, please feel free to contact MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning at 281-603-9949 today!
If you have a plumbing emergency, we also offer a 24-hour plumbing service. Don’t forget to ask us about our AC maintenance and repair and installation services to keep your home cool and comfortable throughout the hot Texas summer.