Water Conservation Tips
Although Texas has recovered from the severe drought of the past few years, conservation is the easiest way to ensure that the state has enough water for future growth. In fact, water conservation is an essential part of the State Water Plan. We encourage all Texans to cut back on water use.
- 1 Water or irrigate your yard efficiently to save water and maintain a healthy landscape.
- 2 Collecting rainwater for landscape use is great for your plants and can save you water and money.
- 3 Save water by installing water efficient showerheads, toilets, faucets, and faucet aerators.
- 4 For big savings, fix household leaks.
- 5 Use less water every day with a few simple ideas.
- 6 Invest in an ENERGY STAR–qualified clothes washer, which typically uses about 50 percent less water and 25 percent less energy per load.
- 7 Invest in an ENERGY STAR–qualified dishwasher, which typically uses about 15 percent less water.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS: Efficient Yard Watering or Irrigation
Billions of gallons of water are wasted every day from inefficient landscape watering. The key to watering lawns is to apply water infrequently, yet thoroughly.* Watering too heavily or too often can weaken your lawn, waste water, and carry soil, fertilizers, and pesticides into streams. Watering too little can also waste water because it does little to alleviate stress on grass from drought.
- Water before 10 a.m. to save water and maintain plant health. Watering in the afternoon increases water loss due to evaporation. Watering in the evening can make your lawn and plants more prone to disease.
- A general rule is to water 1 inch, once a week, as needed. Observe the grass to know when to water. At the first sign of wilting, you have 24 to 48 hours to water before damage occurs.
- To determine when you have applied enough water, put a 6-ounce tuna can on your lawn and stop watering when it is full. If you notice runoff before the can is full, turn off the water and wait one hour before turning it on again.
- Some plants may have lower water requirements. You may be able to reduce the sprinkler run time for areas of your yard with these plants.
- Replace your standard irrigation clock timer with a newer, more water-efficient controller and save nearly 8,800 gallons of water annually. New technology uses local weather and landscape conditions to determine your yard’s water needs.
- Ensure sprinklers are not watering sidewalks or driveways. Also, sprinklers should spray large drops close to the ground, rather than a fog or mist, which can be blown away by wind.
- Regularly maintain your permanent sprinkler system to make sure water is being properly applied, sprinkler heads are free from debris, water is flowing at the proper pressure, and the system does not have leaks.
- Consider alternatives to spray irrigation when possible. Drip irrigation can minimize evaporation and runoff by 60 percent or more. This system works best with plants such as ornamentals, vines, or vegetables.
Learn more about saving water while maintaining yard health in our guide Landscape Irrigation and from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Earth-Kind Landscaping
*When watering, always comply with your water system’s restrictions.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS: Rainwater
Rainwater harvesting is simply the collecting and storing of rainwater. Before there were public water utilities, many households collected rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is becoming popular again for environmental and economic reasons. Texas is a drought prone state and many people are concerned about water scarcity. Also, many people enjoy the savings on their water bills.
- Lawn and garden watering make up 30 to 50 percent of total household water use. By collecting rainwater from just 10 percent of the residential roof area in Texas, we could conserve over 30 billion gallons of water annually.
- You can easily start collecting rainwater with a rain barrel, or you can install a more complex system.
- Hook a soak hose to your rain barrel to water plants that are close together such as ornamentals in beds, clumped flowers, or ground cover.
- Rainwater is better for plants than chemically treated water.
- Rainwater harvesting can help reduce flow to stormwater drains and reduce stream pollution.
- Maintain your rain barrel to keep it free from clogs and debris. To keep mosquitoes out, ensure your screen is well sealed. Use a mosquito dunk to kill any mosquito larvae that appear.
- You can often find free rain barrels or rebates for rain barrels and water collection systems by checking with your local government agencies or water utility. Texas Tax Code 151.355 exempts rainwater-harvesting equipment from sales tax.
- For more information on rainwater harvesting and instructions on how to build your own rain barrel, check out our video Building a Rain Barrel or download our short guide, Rainwater Harvesting with Rain Barrels. For more detailed information on large and small rainwater systems, download our guide Rainwater Harvesting.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS: Efficient Tools
In Texas, our water needs are continuing to grow at the same time that water supplies from existing sources are decreasing. The average family uses about 200 gallons of water per day indoors. Showers, toilets, and faucets account for nearly 60 percent of that amount, offering an opportunity for major water savings.
- Replace these fixtures with products labeled WaterSense products and you could save over 16,000 gallons of water and about $200 each year. WaterSense is a widely recognized and trusted label that identifies products that save water and money without compromising performance.
- Water-efficient fixtures are available at a wide variety of price points and in many styles to match your needs.
- Replace older toilets with a new, efficient one. Toilets are the biggest consumers of water in the home. Older toilets can use as much as 6 gallons per flush, whereas newer models use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush.
- Using WaterSense fixtures will also save you energy and money by reducing demands on water heaters.
- Faucet aerators and WaterSense faucets can reduce your sink’s water flow by 30 percent without sacrificing performance.
- Aerators are an easy and inexpensive way to save water. They cost just a few dollars and are simple to install.
- Save even more by looking for rebates, vouchers, or free fixtures. Check with your local government agencies or utilities to see if they offer ways to save. Search for rebates in your area with the EPA’s WaterSense Rebate Finder. Also, check with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for sales-tax holidays on WaterSense-labeled products.
- Find out more about water-saving fixtures on the WaterSense website.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS: Fix Leaks.
Household leaks in Texas alone could waste more than 90 billion gallons of water each year. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 homes are wasting 90 gallons a day because of leaks. The good news is that many household leaks are easy and inexpensive to fix. Repairing them could save 10,000 gallons of water each year per household and 10 percent on water bills. So check your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems regularly.
- You can discover whether your home has leaks by checking your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is used. If the meter changes at all, you may have a leak.
- Another method of checking for leaks is to look at your water bill during the colder months. If a family if four is exceeding 12,000 gallons a month, there may be serious leaks.
- Check your toilet by putting 10 drops of food coloring in the tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after ten to 15 minutes, you have a leak. Be sure to flush so you do not stain your tank.
- Toilet leaks can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day and are often due to a worn or faulty flapper. This is easy to repair.
- Faucet leaks can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water a year. The culprit is often old and worn washers and gaskets. Check the outside of pipes and fixtures for water. Also, periodically look under your sink for signs of water leaks.
- Showerheads often leak because of a loose connection between the showerhead and pipe stem. This is easy to repair by tightening the connection or using Teflon pipe tape.
- If your shower drips when not in use, it may require professional repair.
- Check out our blog post Finding and Fixing Three Common Leaks for more information about finding and repairing household leaks
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS: Use less water.
From showering to cooking to cleaning, water is an important part of our daily lives. The average family in America uses more than 300 gallons of water per day for indoor and outdoor water needs. You don’t have to replace appliances or fixtures to save water and money. There are simple actions everyone can take. Some of these tips are also easy to for kids to learn.
- Keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator, rather than letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
- Hand-washing dishes takes more time than using a dishwasher. Let your dishwasher do the work and you’ll save almost 10 days a year! You’ll also save money and water! If washing dishes by hand, use a basin of soapy water or plug the sink.
- Use the dishwasher efficiently. Only run it when you have a full load. Scrape dirty dishes and cookware, rather than rinsing them. Use the “light wash” feature when possible.
- Showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of indoor water use. Reduce this by taking shorter showers. Get a shower timer for your kids and make it into a game.
- Turn off the tap when shaving or brushing your teeth and save up to 2,400 gallons of water a year. This is an easy one for both kids and adults to try. Order our free mirror cling to remind your family to turn off the tap.
- Washing only full loads of laundry can save an average household more than 3,400 gallons of water each year. As a bonus, you can also save energy by using cold water when possible.
- Sweep driveways and sidewalks, as opposed to hosing them off.
- If you have a pool, use a cover to reduce evaporation.
- Wash your car with water from a bucket or use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS: ENERGY STAR Clothes Washer
The ENERGY STAR label indicates a product that meets strict energy-efficiency requirements. Certain ENERGY STAR products, such as clothes washers, are also more water efficient. The average family washes about 300 loads of laundry a year and ENERGY STAR washers can help families save. Washers built before 2003 are significantly less efficient than newer models, costing consumers $180 a year on average in energy and water usage.
- ENERGY STAR models have greater tub capacity so families can wash fewer loads.
- They save water by not filling the tub to wash or rinse clothes.
- A full-sized ENERGY STAR clothes washer uses 10 gallons less per load than a standard model, saving more than 3,000 gallons a year!
- By choosing the right sized model for your home and washing needs, you will get even more savings.
- Models with a higher integrated modified energy factor (IMEF) are more energy efficient. Models with a lower integrated water factor (IWF) are more water efficient.
- If your old machine is still in good condition, you can donate it to a secondhand store, such as Goodwill Industries.
- If your washing machine is no longer working or you choose not to donate it, many retailers will haul away your old appliance. Some retailers participate in the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal Program, which ensures that chemicals are recovered and metal, plastic, and glass are recycled. Find out which retailers participate in the Responsible Appliance Disposal Program.
- Save even more money with rebates, vouchers, and sales tax holidays on ENERGY STAR products. Use the ENERGY STAR rebate finder. Check with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for announcements about sales tax holidays.
WATER CONSERVATION TIPS: ENERGY STAR Dishwasher
The ENERGY STAR label indicates a product that meets strict energy efficiency requirements. Certain ENERGY STAR products, such as dishwashers, are also more water efficient. ENERGY STAR dishwashers use advanced technology to get your dishes clean while using less water and energy. By upgrading to an ENERGY STAR model, you could save 1,600 gallons of water over the lifetime of the appliance.
- In addition to saving water, ENERGY STAR dishwashers are about 5 percent more energy efficient.
- Dishwashers made before 1994 waste more than 10 gallons of water per cycle and could be costing you an extra $35 a year on your utility bills.
- Using an ENERGY STAR dishwasher, rather than hand washing, will save water, energy, money, and time!
- You can use a “light wash” or energy-saving cycle for dishes that are lightly soiled.
- Soil sensors in ENERGY STAR dishwashers test how dirty your dishes are and adjust the cycle to get them clean using the least water.
- By choosing the right-sized model for your home and washing needs, you will get even more savings.
- If your old machine is still in good condition, you can donate it to a secondhand store, such as Goodwill Industries.
- If your dishwasher is no longer working or you choose not to donate it, many retailers will haul away your old appliance. Some retailers participate in the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal Program. This program ensures that chemicals are recovered and the metal, plastic, and glass are recycled. Find out which retailers participate in the Responsible Appliance Disposal Program.
- Save even more money with rebates, vouchers, and sales-tax holidays on ENERGY STAR products. Use the ENERGY STAR rebate finder. Check with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for announcements about sales tax holidays.