Ways To Save Water and Cut Costs

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Ways to Save Water Indoors


  1. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  2. Run the dishwasher only when full.
  3. Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand. Now, Energy Star dishwashers save even more water and energy – saves 3-8 gallons/load.
  4. Install aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce flows to less than 1 gallon/minute.
  5. If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
  6. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day, or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
  7. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  8. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
  9. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
  10. Don’t use running water to thaw food. For water efficiency and food safety, defrost food in the refrigerator.
  11. Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs.
  12. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
  13. Reuse leftover water from cooked or steamed foods to start a nutritious soup, it’s one more way to get eight glasses of water a day.
  14. Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain more nutrients.

  15. Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more cooking water than necessary

  16. If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.

  17. Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.


  1. If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a low-flow shower head – save up to 2.5 gallons/shower.
  2. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.        
  3. Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. You’ll save up to 1,000 gallons per month.
  4. Toilet leaks can be silent! Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year.
  5. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
  6. When running a bath, plug the bathtub before turning on the water. Adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
  7. Fill the bathtub halfway or less – save 12 gallons/bath.
  8. Install a high-efficiency toilet – Save 19 gallons/person/day.
  9. If your toilet flapper doesn’t close properly after flushing, replace it.
  10. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or shave and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.        
  11. Consider buying a dual-flush toilet. It has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste.
  12. Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor and save up to 300 gallons a month.
  13. Turn off the water while washing your hair and save up to 150 gallons a month.
  14. When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
  15. Take 5-minute showers instead of baths. A full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
  16. Install water-saving aerators on all of your faucets – save 1.2 gallons/person/day.
  17. Drop tissues in the trash instead of flushing them and save water every time. Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket.
  18. One drip every second adds up to five gallons per day! Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks.
  19. While you wait for hot water, collect the running water and use it to water plants.


  1. When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
  2. Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy, and helps your clothes retain their color.
  3. When shopping for a new washing machine, compare resource savings among Energy Star models. Some can save up to 20 gallons of water per load.


  1. Teach children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.        
  2. Use the Home Water Audit Calculator to see where you can save water.
  3. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it most.
  4. Encourage your school system and local government to develop and promote water conservation among children and adults.
  5. Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.                     

  6. Avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.        

  7. At home or while staying in a hotel, reuse your towels.

Ways to Save Water Outdoors


    1. Reduce outdoor irrigation to 2 days or less per week (on assigned days) for only 10 minutes per sprinkler station. Try to reduce each irrigation cycle by 1-3 minutes or eliminate one irrigation cycle per week.
    2. Use a trowel, shovel, or soil probe to examine soil moisture depth. If the top two to three inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water.
    3. Use a hose equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle to water landscaped areas not irrigated by a landscape irrigation system.
    4. Set a kitchen timer when using the hose as a reminder to turn it off. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons per minute.
    5. Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street – save 12-15 gallons/each time you water.
    6. Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning (before 10:00 am) or later evening hours (after 6:00 pm) when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter. This reduces evaporation and interface from wind- save 25 gallons/each time you water.
    7. Timing is everything when it comes to irrigation. Learn how to set your controller properly.
    8. Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case of malfunctions or rain.
    9. Remember not to water during or 48 hours following a measurable storm.
    10. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.
    11. Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.

      Signs of overwatering: Leaves turn lighter shades of green or yellow, young shoots wilt, and sometimes algae or fungi grow.

    12. Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won’t run when it’s raining.

    1. Water dry spot by hand instead of running the whole irrigation system longer. 
    2. Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
    3. Use drip irrigation for shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots, where it’s needed – save 15 gallons/each time you water.
    4. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.
    5. Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops and mist often evaporate before hitting the ground.
    6. Use a rain barrel to harvest rainwater from gutters for watering gardens and landscapes.
    7. For hanging baskets, planters and pots, put ice cubes on top of the soil to give your plants a cool drink of water without overflow.
    8. Remember to periodically check your sprinkler system valves for leaks, and to keep sprinkler heads in good shape.
    9. Remember to reset irrigation controllers and replace batteries in the spring and fall.
    10. Pruning properly can help your plants use water more efficiently.


    Lawn Care:

    1. Hire a qualified pro to install your irrigation system and keep it working properly and efficiently.
    2. Hire a professional landscaper who has received landscape training specific to California chaparral environments.
    3. Adjust your lawn mower to the height of 1.5 to 2 inches. Taller grass shades roots and holds soil moisture better than short grass.
    4. Leave lawn clippings on your grass, this cools the ground and holds in moisture.
    5. If installing a lawn, select a lawn mix or blend that matches your climate and site conditions.
    6. Aerate your lawn periodically. Holes every six inches will allow water to reach the roots, rather than run off the surface.
    7. Let your lawn go dormant (brown) during the winter. Dormant grass only needs to be watered every three to four weeks, less if it rains.
    8. Avoid overseeding your lawn with winter grass. Ryegrass needs water every few days, whereas Dormant Bermuda grass needs water monthly.
    9. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light and water.
    10. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
    11. Water your summer lawns once every three days and your winter lawn once every five days.
    12. Catch water in an empty tuna can to measure sprinkler output. 3/4 to 1 inch of water is enough to apply each time you irrigate.


    California-Friendly Landscaping:

    1. Use porous material for walkways and patios to prevent wasteful runoff and keep water in your yard.
    2. Group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid overwatering some while underwatering others.
    3. Choose the right California-friendly plants and watch them thrive in our chaparral environment – save 30-60 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft.
    4. Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard by planting shrubs and ground covers appropriate to your site and region. (Rebates may be available)
    5. Plant in the spring and fall, when the watering requirements are lower.
    6. Consider attending a California-Friendly landscape class hosted by a San Diego County Water Agency.
    7. Avoid planting grass in areas that are hard to water, such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
    8. Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
    9. Start a compost pile. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
    10. Use a layer of organic mulch on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water, reduce evaporation, and keep soil cool – save 20-30 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft..
    11. Visit your local water efficient demonstration garden to view plants that thrive in our hot desert environment.
    12. Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low-water-use plant and save up to 550 gallons each year.
    13. Call your local conservation office for more information about landscaping with water-thrifty trees, plants, and ground covers.
    14. Collect water from your roof by installing gutters and downspouts. Direct the runoff to plants and trees.



    1. Use a pool cover to help keep your pool clean, reduce chemical use and prevent water loss through evaporation.
    2. Make sure your swimming pools and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.
    3. If you have an automatic refilling device, check your pool periodically for leaks.
    4. When back-washing your pool, consider using the water on salt-tolerant plants in the landscape. 
    5. Minimize or eliminate the use of waterfalls and sprays in your pool. Aeration increases evaporation.
    6. Don’t overfill the pool. Lower water levels will reduce water loss due to splashing.
    7. Instead of building a private pool, join a community pool.
    8. Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation than those that spray water into the air.
    9. Use a grease pencil to conduct a bucket test to check for pool leaks. An unnatural water level drop may indicate a leak.

    General Outdoor:

    1. For more immediate hot water and energy savings, insulate hot water pipes.
    2. Use recirculating water when operating an ornamental fountains or decorative water features.
    3. Use a commercial car wash that recycles or recirculates water. Or, wash your car on the lawn, and you’ll water your grass at the same time.
    4. Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you wash your car. You’ll save up to 100 gallons every time.
    5. Wash your pets outdoors, in an area of your lawn that needs water.
    6. When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your non-edible plants.
    7. When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
    8. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks and driveways, and save water every time.
    9. Evaporative coolers require a seasonal maintenance check. For more efficient cooling, check your evaporative cooler annually.
    10. If you have an evaporative cooler, direct the water drain to plants in your landscape.
    11. Set water softeners for a minimum number of refills to save both water and chemicals, plus energy, too.
    12. If you have an evaporative cooler, install a recirculating pump to keep water from bleeding off with one pass.
    13. Report broken pipes, leaky hydrants and errant sprinklers to property owners or your local water provider.
    14. Know where your master water shut-off valve is located. Were a pipe to burst, this could save gallons of water and prevent damage.
    15. Install a thermostat and timer on your evaporative cooler so it only operates when necessary.

Office, Restaurants, Hotels:

  1. Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs.
  2. Upgrade older toilets, sink faucets, urinals, and showerheads with newer, water-efficient models.
  3. Install water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.
  4. Some commercial refrigerators and ice-makers are cooled with water. Upgrade to air-cooled appliances for significant water savings.
  5. Post a hotline in bathrooms and kitchens to report leaks or water waste to facility managers or maintenance personnel.
  6. Create a suggestion and incentives system at your organization to recognize water-saving ideas.
  7. Include a water-saving tip in your employee newsletter.
  8. Implement a water management plan for your facility, then educate employees on good water habits through newsletters and posters.
  9. Publish your organization’s monthly water use to show progress toward water-saving goals.
  10. Invite your water utility conservation staff to your organization for Earth Day and other environmental events to help promote water savings.
  11. Water audit your facility to find out your recommended water use, then monitor your utility bills to gauge your monthly consumption.
  12. Have maintenance personnel regularly check your facilities for leaks, drips and other water waste.
  13. If you use processed water in your business or facility, look into water recycling.
  14. Contact your water utility to see if rebates are available for purchasing water-efficient fixtures, equipment or for facility audits.
  15. Consider and compare water use when purchasing ice makers, dishwashers, reverse osmosis units, coolers and cleaning equipment.
  16. As part of the Fix-A-Leak Week in March, plan an employee campaign to look for leaks.
  17. Determine how your on-site water is being used by installing sub-meters where feasible, then monitoring for savings.
  18. Conduct a facility water use inventory and identify water management goals.
  19. Don’t forget hidden water use costs, like energy for pumping, heating and cooling, chemical treatment, and damage and sewer expenses.
  20. Show your company’s dedication to water conservation through a policy statement. Commit management, staff and resources to the effort.
  21. Shut off water to unused areas of your facility to eliminate waste from leaks or unmonitored use.
  22. Saving water on your landscape adds up quickly. Send the person in charge of your landscape to an irrigation workshop.
  23. Marry the weather with your landscape water use. Water use should decrease during rainy periods and increase during hot, dry periods.
  24. Scrape dishes rather than rinsing them before washing.
  25. A recent study showed that 99% of business managers surveyed ranked water conservation as a “top five” priority over the next decade.
  26. If your facility relies on cooling towers, have maintenance maximize cycles of concentration by providing efficient water treatment.
  27. While cleaning sidewalks, a hose and nozzle use 8-12 gallons of water per minute. A broom uses 0 gallons.
  28. Limit turf areas at your facility. Instead, landscape using water efficient principles to cut water use in half.
  29. Use recirculated water when operating ornamental fountains or decorative water features. 
  30. Wash company vehicles at commercial car washers that recycle water.
  31. Wash company vehicles as needed rather than on a schedule. Stretch out the time in between washes.
  32. Consider turning your high-maintenance water feature/fountain into a low-maintenance art feature or planter.
  33. Support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and industrial uses.

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