How to Save Water During a Dry Summer

MONEYPITHow to Save Water During a Dry Summer Conserving water is more important than ever. During summer dry spells, this may seem like an impossible task, but with a few tips saving water is easy. Most of us take our water supply for granted. But in dry weather, it pays to think of ways to conserve water. Cutting back on water usage not only helps the environment, but can save you cold, hard cash during a hotter-than-normal summer.

Thanks to new technology, saving water is a breeze. Plumbing parts like low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators are surprisingly easy to install. And, when combined with basic outdoor water reduction techniques, they can save you hundreds of dollars a year in water. Here's what to do to change your water guzzling habits:

Low-Flow Shower Heads: Low-flow shower heads have been around for some time, but brought complaints of poor water pressure. Not any more! New and improved "flow control technology" allows these devices to deliver as little as 1.75 gallons per minute with stimulating force. Since old shower heads pour out at a rate of 4 to 5 gallons per minute, a low-flow shower head can actually cut your water usage in half.

Water Faucet Aerators: New faucet aerators should be installed on kitchen and bathroom sinks, where most household water is drawn. Older faucets typically run at a rate of 4 gallons per minute, when fully opened. However, by simply unscrewing the old aerator (located at the end of the spout) and installing a low-flow aerator, you use only 2.5 gallons per minute, a 40% reduction.

Toilet Tune-Ups: Plumbing codes have mandated an end to old fashioned water guzzling toilets. Nowadays, only low-flow, 1.6 gallon, toilets are available and work amazingly well.

If your home has the old-styled 4 to 5 gallon toilets, you can still save water without replacing it. One of the most common sources of toilet leaks is the flush valve, the rubber flapper inside the toilet. To see if it leaks, place some food coloring inside the toilet tank and leave it overnight. Then check the toilet bowl the next morning. If the dye has leaked into the bowl, the flush valve is bad. Replacement is an easy, do-it-yourself job, which will cost about $5 for the part.

Low Water Landscaping: Outdoor watering puts great demands on city water supplies and can quickly run up water bills. A few basic techniques will help you reduce the amount of water necessary to keep your lawn and garden green:

• Water grass only when necessary and make sure to water accurately. The only thing that will grow when you water sidewalks and streets is the size of your water bill. • Water early in the morning. Midday watering can burn plants and much of the water is lost to evaporation. Nighttime watering result in damaging fungus. • Use low water sprinklers. They don't actually use less water, but they distribute the water by bigger droplets. Mists and fine spray type sprinklers lose lots of water to evaporation. • Use mulch under plants and shrubs. Mulching prevents weed growth and keeps soil moist under plants. As organic matter, mulches also decompose over time and release needed nutrients to the soil. • Use soil conditioners. If you're planting trees and shrubs, take the time to properly prepare the soil so it holds moisture. This is usually done by adding organic matter, like peat moss or compost. One interesting new product that can dramatically increase the soil's ability to hold water is a polymer soil conditioner. This looks like ground-up plastic and swells to a gel-like consistency when wet. The water contained in the polymer is then slowly released to the soil when needed, providing a buffer in periods of limited rainfall.

Conserving water during a dry summer will not only result in savings on your water bill, but saving water will make you a better steward of the environment.

Information from The Money Pit/on KMAS News Radio, Saturdays 10am to 12pm