Another rainy season has passed us by and the hype for el Nino has fallen short of our hopes and expectations. Experts at the National Weather Service confirmed that the last five years have been the driest ever documented in California since official record keeping began almost 140 years ago. Despite near average rainfall in much of Northern California this last winter, 60% of the state remains in severe or extreme drought, the board said.
I have to say at this point I really miss having a green lawn, taking baths, and watching the kids play in the sprinklers. In fact, most Californians probably react this way when it rains.
With water restrictions being strictly enforced, there are a few simple steps that you can take to lower your water bill and still enjoy your home.
1. Mulch, Compost, and Shredded Leaves…oh my!
- A layer of mulch around trees and plants will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. .
- Compost not only adds beneficial nutrients and microbes to the soil, it helps retain moisture.
- Shredded leaves make excellent mulch, and they’re free! Spread them in fall to insulate the soil and prevent frost heaving of perennials. The shreds will eventually break down and feed the soil, just like the compost.
2. High Stakes Mowing
- Cut back on fertilizer, mow high, and leave mulched clippings on the lawn to shade the soil and reduce evaporation.
- Wondering if you need to water the lawn? Walk on the grass. If the blades spring back, hold off on watering. If you see your footprints, switch on the sprinklers.
3. Check the Pipes
- That constant drip drip sound annoying? It can be wasteful and expensive too. A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons. Change out those old faucets and you can save a bundle in the long run.
4. Power Down that Shower
- Consider swapping out high flow shower heads for a water-saving low-flow shower heads. They are easy for the homeowner to install. Long showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Low flow shower heads use less than 2.5 gallons per minute which means you can relax during your peaceful shower time.
5. Proper Dishwasher Loading
- There are right ways and wrong ways to load your dishwasher… just ask my husband. If you do it incorrectly, then you have to wash the dishes again by hand. Save time and money and do it right the first time. For more, see: 7 common dishwasher-loading mistakes that may surprise you.
6. Workin’ at the car wash, yeah
- Use the car wash to wash your vehicle. A lot of water is wasted doing it at home. A professional car wash uses 9-15 gallons of water per car. Washing your car at home can use 40-140 gallons depending on who is “helping”. Most newer car wash facilities have fairly sophisticated water reclamation systems that enable the car wash to re-use water many times over.
Making a couple of small changes can make a big difference on your water bill. You can still have a beautiful home during a drought, it just takes proper planning.
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