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Tips for being Water Wise

Posted By Karen Young On June 28, 2009 @ 10:38 pm In News,Real Estate | No Comments

rick_burns80BY RICK BURNS

We have all heard that California is in a severe drought and has a critical water shortage. We now have been mandated by the LADWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) to cut back our water usage by 15% or pay up. I have friends who think this is daunting. Actually this is relatively easy and I say, “Why stop at 15%”?

Did you know that statistically the average house wastes 14% of all water usage due to water leaks in their own home?

A single faucet leak can add up:

30 drips/minute =4.32 gallons/Day =129.6 gallon/Month =1,576.8 gallons/Year

Water leaks can be relatively easy to solve. To check for water leaks, turn off all the water in your home from the water main.

Did you know that statistically the average house wastes 14% of all water usage due to water leaks in their own home?  A single faucet leak can add up:  30 drips/minute =4.32 gallons/Day =129.6 gallon/Month =1,576.8 gallons/Year

Did you know that statistically the average house wastes 14% of all water usage due to water leaks in their own home? A single faucet leak can add up: 30 drips/minute =4.32 gallons/Day =129.6 gallon/Month =1,576.8 gallons/Year

Then find the water meter outside of your house. If the red dial on your water meter is still moving, you have a leak. If you don’t have a red dial, and the white numbers are sill moving, you also have a leak. It doesn’t cost anything to check for leaks and the total cost could also be zero if you can fix the leaks yourself.

Here is another little trick to detect water leaks in the toilet. Put a dye, provided by your water company, (red or blue is recommend) in the toilet tank and wait a few minutes. If you see any of the dye in the toilet bowl itself, you have a constant leak that needs to be repaired. Powdered grape fruit drink or food coloring also work well for this.

Replace all your showerheads with the new 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute) low flow showerheads. This alone will save about 50% of the water normally used while taking a shower. Try taking shorter showers. It’s not that big of a sacrifice.

Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. When shaving with a blade, fill the sink with a little water and turn off the tap. If washing dishes by hand, use a minimum amount of soap to reduce water needed when rinsing. An automatic dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Just make sure the dishwasher is full before running it.

Replace your toilets with the new two button, dual flush, low flow toilets. Low flow toilets have made significant progress in reduced water use over the last few years. The old toilets, pre 1992, used 4.8 gallons of water for each flush! Around 2002, the then new low flush toilets used 2.8 gallons per flush. Now the new dual button toilets use .8 gallons per flush for liquids and only 1.6 gallons per flush for solids! There are also dual flush mechanisms that can be retrofitted to existing toilets.

This is a huge water savings! The average family flushes their toilets about 22 times a day! New toilets cost around $150 – $1,000. (I paid $350 for mine). If cost is an issue, and it was for me, replace one toilet at a time or just replace the mechanism.

What I have talked about so far will easily save you over 15% and maybe up to 20% of your water usage. Let’s go for more!

Change your old inefficient washing machine. The new ones use up to 56% less water and are up to 83% more energy efficient. New front-loading washing machines cost between $850 and $1,700. (I paid about $1,200 for mine).

Outside:

LADWP has mandated that lawns be watered before 9:00 am or after 4:00 pm on Mondays and Thursdays only. Don’t water when it rains and to avoid evaporation, don’t water on windy days. Cover your pool or spa to reduce evaporation.

The new trend in gardening (at least in Southern California) is Xeriscape landscaping (combining xeros from Greek for dry, and landscape) which is a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates. The practice utilizes water-conservation techniques such as planting drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and using efficient irrigation systems with a minimal amount of water.

The largest use of water for most homeowners is from landscaping and lawn watering. By replacing your lawn (or some of your lawn) with Xeriscape landscaping, significant amounts of water can be saved.

There is so much more that can be done to reduce your water consumption; I haven’t even covered capturing rain from your roof with cisterns or using greywater, two very effective water conservation techniques.

But even if you do only some of the things I have talked about in this article, getting your water usage down by 15% will be a snap! But why stop there?  Good luck in reducing your water usage.

Richard Burns CEO/Chairman of the Board/Founder of American Green Standard. He is a licensed Real Estate Broker in California and in Arizona. He is a third generation developer/builder has been researching ‘Green Development’ for over six years and currently has four green projects in development in Arizona .He is currently on the board of Path Ventures which is dedicated to providing housing for the homeless and JVS, a charity organization giving grants to needy students for college.  www.americangreenstandard.com

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