There are many steps you can take to conserve water. Some you may be familiar with, and others may be new to you. This section presents five major steps to water conservation that are relatively easy to implement.
- Use your water meter to track water use.
- Check for and repair leaks.
- Automate water control using specialized sensors, systems, fixtures and appliances.
- Save water inside.
- Save water outside.
Use your water meter to track water use.
Start conserving water by getting familiar with the location and function of your home or workplace water meter. Your meter is a great tool for monitoring your water usage and for determining when water is being wasted due to a leak. Meters are generally located on a building’s exterior and towards the street-side. A water meter will typically have a register displaying the numbers representing water usage, a sweep arm/hand (one full revolution of the sweep hand represents one cubic foot of water used), and a test hand or flow indicator which is a triangular dial.
Water use is measured in cubic feet (1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons), and you are billed in units of hundred cubic feet (1 HCF = 748 gallons). To calculate your water usage in gallons, multiply the digits (the ones in black with a white background) by 748. You can monitor your daily, weekly or monthly water usage in order to see the effectiveness of changes in your routine.
Your water meter should only be running when water is flowing. So the first way your meter can be useful is in helping you to check for leaks. To run a simple check, try one of these two methods:
- Turn off all water and observe the test hand/flow indicator for at least 15 minutes. The small triangular dial (or test hand, flow indicator) will move counter-clockwise if any water is flowing through the meter. Even just a dripping faucet will make the dial move. A slight back and forth movement may occur if pressure from the main line is fluctuating. This is not significant. OR...
- Conduct this test during a two hour period when no water is being used, such as very late at night. Read your water meter, and write down the number on the register (that is the numbers in black on the white background). Wait two hours and look at the number again. If no water was used, the numbers should be almost identical. If the readings are different, you probably have a leak.
Your meter can also help you to see water conservation in action. For example, you can see the impact of taking a shorter shower. To do it, try this experiment. Step 1: Make sure no other water is running in the house. Check the register on your meter and write down that number. Check the time and write that down too. Now, go take a shower as you normally would. Right after your shower, write down the time, and check your meter again and write down the new number. Then, calculate the difference. Step 2: The next time you need to shower, again make sure no other water is running in the house. Repeat Step 1 exactly, with the exception that you should purposefully cut your shower time in half. It may not be your best shower, but it serves to prove the point. Remember to write down the times and calculate the difference between the beginning and ending register numbers. Step 3: Using our conversion equation above (1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons), calculate your water usage in gallons for both showers. How much more water did you use the first time? How much water do you think you could save in a year if you just made your normal shower time even a minute or so shorter each day? Think about all of the ways you use water? How fast would the water savings add up if you shortened each one by just a bit?
Check for and repair leaks.
Leaks are a significant source of water waste. Water can leak indoors from pipes, fixtures, appliances, your water heater and HVAC. Outside leaks can be in irrigation systems, swimming pools, fountains, decorative ponds, or again the HVAC system. Sometimes you can see a leak. Often, you can hear a sound as if water is running even when it is not. That’s a good indicator of a leak too. Running one of our water meter tests above every now and then is a good practice, especially if you see your water bill climbing steadily without reason. you can also use your water meter to determine if water is being lost from
To determine where the leak is:
- Check your toilets. When you open the lid, does water appear to be dripping into the bowl? Do you hear a periodic flushing sound?
- Check your sink and tub faucets. Do you see water slowly dripping? Is there water in the bowl even when the faucet has been off for hours?
- Check under appliances like your dishwasher, clothes washer and hot water heater. Is there water on the floor after use?
- Check your refrigerator and ice maker. Is there water on the floor? Does the ice maker shut off when the ice bin is full?
- Look for indicators of moisture behind walls and under floors. Do you see bubbles in the paint? Is the floor covering lifting?
If everything inside seems to be okay, check outside.
- Look around your yard and land for pooling water. That could be a sign of broken piping or leaking valves or pumps.
- Check the outskirts of swimming pools, fountains and ponds. If you see water dripping outside the pool catch basins, you have a leak. Do you have to refill your pool or fountain more often than is usual, especially during the rainy season? Is your pool turning green within a shorter time after treatment (indicating a potential loss of chemicals via a leak)?
- Check your irrigation system. Run a very short “test program” of just a few minutes. Look for valves that gush water instead of gently sprinkle it or dripping.
- Check your hose to look for rips and tears that could be gushing water. Check its connection to the spigot to be sure it does not leak when your hose is running. Remove and re-connect the hose to be sure it was threaded properly. Replace the washer if necessary, and reinforce the connection with pipe tape.
Contact a professional if you are unable to permanently repair a leak yourself.
Automate water control using specialized sensors, systems, fixtures and appliances
Certain systems, fixtures and appliances (like sprinklers, dishwashers, washing machines and even refrigerators) have automation or timer features that can be used to reduce the amount of water that you use. For new purchases, look for the EPA Water Sense label to be sure that these control features are available. For older models, inquire about whether timers are available, or choose settings which naturally have a shorter run.
Change the way that you use water inside.
Once the machines have done their jobs, it's up to you! This is what we mean by green your routine! Follow our inside water conservation tips, and also.....
Change the way that you use water outside.
We've got outside water conservation tips too, and can show you how to set your irrigation properly and even how to make a rain barrel.