Water Saver Even after El Nino

Dear L’Armoire Readers,

Well, we got some of that precious stuff this winter, but still need to conserve!

Here are some of my wild & crazy tried-and-true ways to save water. I live in a small house in the Berkeley hills with a husband, 17-yr old child, in-and-out adult daughter, cat, and vegetable garden. Our household water usage averages 65 gallons per day for 3+ people. (Check out your own usage on your water bill.) The daily Californian average is over 200 gal/household.

1. Don’t prewash dishes - scrape wastes into compost bin or garbage - and run dishwasher only when full (run during offpeak hours to save electricity too). Use a dishpan for handwashing and use that water to flush a toilet or water potted ornamentals (if you use a natural dish soap sparingly).

2. Hand water at the roots any plants not on a drip system. Do this after 4 pm or before 9am. Mulch over any bare earth - you’ll need to water half as much.

3. RECYCLE your greywater! Plug your tub while showering (install a lowflow showerhead first - it's an easy screw-on installation) and keep a 2 gal bucket by the tub. Use the bath water to flush the toilet, water landscaping, do hand laundry. We bought an inexpensive 1/8 horsepower submersible pump and hose to run our bathwater to our washing machine for the first part of the cycle. (We have a surplus of electricity as we have solar panels, so it’s worth it for us.)

4. Take a shorter shower, or take half as many. Wash up with a spongebath in between showers.

5. Don’t use water pressure to clean anything (sidewalks, cars, sinks).

6.Run full laundry loads during off peak hours (you might as well dry clothes on a rack or clothesline while you’re at it).

7. Don’t run water while sudsing up hair, brushing teeth, etc. If you need to run cold water out of the pipe to get it warm, run it into a bucket or pan and use the water for something else.

8. Don’t feel that you have to do ALL of these things at once. Start with one or two, and add on as they become habits. Remember that ANYTHING you do to save water is better than doing NOTHING!

9. Fix that drippy sink or toilet! If you don’t have the $ right now, then turn off the toilet water using the valve at the base after each flush, and turn it on before flushing (if you’re not flushing with greywater). Put a pan under that faucet drip to catch the drips to add to your flushing water collection or to water houseplants.

10. Remember that water is more precious than gasoline! Use it with respect!
Yours in conservation,