The Ultimate Guide to Saving Water In The Summer
Summer is on its way, and with it comes a spike in residential water use! In contrast to some parts of the country, we in the Chicago area are fortunate to have a plentiful supply of fresh water in the form of Lake Michigan, the world’s fifth-largest lake by area and seventh largest by volume. Because of this, we also enjoy relatively low water rates for a major U.S. city.
That said, water is by no means free, and when you tally up a gallon here and a gallon there, unnecessary water use can add up to a significant punch in the wallet, especially in the summertime. That’s why we thought we’d take a moment to share some of our favorite ways to save water at home when the outside temperature rises.
6 Easy Ways to Save Water Outdoors in the Summer
Far and away, the lion’s share of summer water consumption occurs in the yard and garden. Car washing, lawn sprinkling, garden watering and pools of any size all require lots of water. The heat of the sun also results in water loss through evaporation. Use the following tips to conserve water outside this summer and we bet your water bill will show it!
- Set your lawnmower to its maximum height. Letting your grass stay just a little taller shades the soil to minimize evaporation. It also allows the plants to develop a deeper root system, which means your lawn will require less frequent watering.
- Water low. Sprinklers and hoses throw a lot of water into the air, where much of it evaporates before it even hits the soil. If you use sprinklers, set them low. Or, invest in drip irrigation.
- Install automatic timers on your irrigation system. This is one of the easiest ways to conserve water. Just set and forget! The automatic controller will deliver the optimal amount of water to your lawn, so you can sit back, enjoy the summer, and save money.
- Avoid watering in the heat of the day. The heat of the sun makes water evaporate much faster, especially in windy conditions. Instead, water in the early morning or later in the evening when the sun is low. This will also prevent the droplets of water from concentrating the sunlight like a magnifying glass and damaging your plant’s leaves.
- Install a rain barrel. Rainwater is great for plants, and it’s free for collecting! Installing a rain barrel can save you many gallons over the summer months. If you live in one of the over 60 Chicago-area communities that participates in the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s Rain Barrel Program, you can even pick one up for free!
- Fix your outdoor plumbing leaks. Many people don’t get concerned about outdoor water leaks, but letting them slide can cost a bundle. When watering outdoors, make sure hoses are connected securely, and if you have an irrigation system, be sure to inspect it for leaks weekly. Outdoor faucet leaks are just as wasteful as any other plumbing issue, and should be fixed immediately.
3 Ways to Save Water Through Efficient Plumbing
Next, let’s venture indoors. While many interior plumbing problems occur irrespective of season, others show up more often in summer. Here are a few ways to save water at home this summer:
- Inspect your washing machine hose. Summer days spent outdoors add up to more laundry in the warm months. Those extra loads can increase the strain on your washer hose, potentially causing it to leak. Make sure your hose is free of kinks and securely attached with no drips or leaks. If it shows signs of wear, replace it without delay.
- Keep an eye on the toilet. Summertime, when kids spend more time home from school or day care, is prime time for recreational toilet flushing. Not only will this pastime rack up your water bill, but it also makes you a prime candidate for emergency toilet repair. Better to watch your kids the best you can and gently but firmly redirect their interest when necessary.
- Check for leaks. While burst and leaking pipes are often associated with freezing weather, they can happen in the summer, too. So can leaking bathroom and kitchen faucets. (Did you know that a faucet dripping once every two seconds equates to over 1,500 gallons of wasted water in a year?) It’s a good idea to check all your pipes and faucets for leaks monthly, and if you find a leak, repair it promptly. By the same token, if you ever notice moisture where it’s not supposed to be, inspect for leaks without delay. Left unchecked, plumbing leaks can lead to incredible amounts of damage to your home and property.
(While we’re on the topic of indoor summer plumbing problems, tree roots are also worth a mention. They may not waste water, but roots can wreak havoc on your pipes — especially in the dry summer months when roots seek moisture. If you notice water backing up in any of your plumbing fixtures this summer, suspect tree roots, and have it checked right away.)
The Water-Energy Connection
Most people aren’t aware of it, but by following these water conservation tips, you are also saving a lot of energy, which helps both you and the planet. Treating, pumping and heating water all require energy, so every gallon you save shaves kilowatt hours from your energy bill as well. To maximize this effect, consider installing WaterSense labeled plumbing products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for water conservation.
Water Conservation: A Rewarding Habit
Saving water doesn’t mean you have to give up summer water fun or let your lawn go brown. It does mean being smart with your water use and making every drop count. In fact, it can be kind of fun to see just how many ways you can save water — and money — in and around your home. Why not challenge yourself to some real savings this summer?