Let's face it, we've been hearing about the drought and how important it is to cut back our water use for months. Some of us are tired of the talk about conserving water and out of ideas on what more to do.
But with no rain in sight, which translates into drier days ahead, water cutbacks are a fact of life. Good conservation practices don't have to mean deprivation.
Here are five water-saving tips you may never have considered -- and they don't hurt a bit. In fact, they're so easy, you might wonder why you didn't think of them sooner.
1. Use a carwash. You can use as much as 100 gallons of water doing it by hand. But the most efficient carwashes use only about half that much. And the carwash will probably do a better job because it uses high-intensity nozzles to get the grunge off. What's more, carwashes are required to either recycle and reuse water in the initial rinse or channel it to treatment plants. If you still feel the urge to do-it-yourself, try a self-serve coin operated wash. Those spray guns top out at about 12 to 18 gallons.
Another good reason to use a carwash: When you wash at home, you could be sending brake fluid, oil, transmission fluid and other car fluids down the storm drains and into our waterways. That leads to polluted water and problems for wildlife.
2. Use a dishwasher instead of hand washing your dishes. Yes, dishwashers (with a full load, that is) can actually use less water. It can take as much as 27 gallons of water to do a sink full of dirties. An older model dishwasher uses up to 15 gallons, while a new Energy Star-rated dishwasher can do the job with as little as three gallons. But it is better for you to hand-scrape the dishes. Pre-rinsing in the dishwasher can use an additional five gallons.
3. Shower with a bucket. Yes, it does sound strange, but consider this. The average shower lasts 8.2 minutes and can use 17.2 gallons. If you can capture a gallon or two from your shower, you can use it to rinse out a few dainties without running the washing machine or water a few house plants. You can do the bucket catch whenever you're running water, especially if you’re rinsing vegetables or waiting for the water to get hot.
4. Let your pots and pans sit awhile. Instead of running water while you scrape the gunk out, let them soak. You might not get the dinner dishes cleaned up quite as fast, but you will save water. And a little relaxation after dinner never hurt anyone.
5. Skip the groomer and wash your dog outdoors. Pick a spot on your lawn that needs water and give Fido a spa treatment right there. You can wash the dog and water the lawn without wasting water.