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conserving water house

1. Tips for outside:

  • Most lawns require only one inch of water each week once established. Use a rain gauge or clean tuna can to measure one inch. Increase watering during times of extended high temperatures (above 90 degrees). Decrease irrigation after rainfall.
  • Water deeply but infrequently. Water less often but for longer periods of time. Watering every day for just a few minutes actually reduces the health of your lawn. Deep soaks encourage deep roots which makes your plants more drought tolerant.
  • Don't water unless your lawn needs it! Use a screwdriver to test the moisture of your soil. Push the blade of the screwdriver into the ground; it will become difficult to push when the soil is dry. If this happens less than six inches into the ground, then it's time to water!
  • Water early in the morning (4-8 AM) or in the evening (6-8 PM). Watering in the morning offers some advantages over watering in the evening: air temperatures are usually cooler, thus you lose less water to evaporation; and you are less likely to encourage harmful fungus growth.
  • Don't water when it is very windy or when it has just recently rained.
  • Water, rest, water, save. The time until your soil becomes saturated and the water runs off will vary with soil composition. Clay soils are more likely to be harder for water to penetrate. If water begins to run off your lawn, try the cycle-soak method: irrigate until the water runs off, wait 30 minutes for it to soak in, and repeat until you have applied the desired amount for that day.
  • It is easy to tell if you are under-watering your lawn. Watch for brown spots, or wilting, or do the trample test. Walk on your lawn -if your footprints remain, increase your watering time.
  • Use sprinklers that release large droplets close to the ground rather than those that spray a fine mist in the air. Finer sprays lose more water to evaporation before it ever reaches the ground.
  • Install drip or soaker hoses in flower and vegetable beds. These hoses deliver water right to the base of the plant, where it is most needed.
  • Check your irrigation system regularly. Look for broken nozzles or sprinkler heads and make sure you are not watering hard surfaces like your driveway or sidewalk.
  • Consider using native or low-water-use plants in your landscaping.
  • Mulch around your plants to reduce water evaporation. 3 inches of mulch also helps protect against weeds and still allows water to penetrate to the roots.
  • Visit the Albany Water Efficient (AWE) Garden located at the Main Library, northwest corner of the front parking lot.
    Brochure | Plant List
  • OSU: Practical lawn Care for Western Oregon (pdf)

2. Tips for the bathroom:

  • Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket. Many people dispose of cigarettes and small pieces of trash in the toilet. Each flush wastes 2 to 6 gallons of water.
  • Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving. Older faucets use between 2 and 5 gallons per minute. Swishing the razor in a partially filled sink is as effective as letting water run over the blade, and can save 300 gallons a month!
  • Take short showers or turn the water off when soaping up.
  • Install low flow aerators on your sink and a low flow showerhead.
  • Repair dripping faucets or leaking toilets. Leaks are one of the largest water wasters in the home. A toilet that runs occasionally through the day may be wasting hundreds of gallons of water each month.
  • If your toilet was installed prior to 1993, use a milk jug or tank bank to deflect some water. Fill a plastic milk jug with water and place it in your tank away from the mechanism. This will reduce the amount of water with each flush. However, if you find the flushes are less effective, remove the jug. Flushing twice with the tank bank will waste more water than flushing once without it. Do not use a brick - the brick will dissolve and damage your toilet mechanism.
  • If you take baths, plug the drain before turning on the water. When the water does become hot, it will quickly warm up the cool water that came out first.
  • Know What Not to Flush

3. Tips for the laundry:

  • Wash only full loads of laundry or use the load size selector on your machine. Even when using the load size selector, it is more efficient to wash a full large load than several full small loads.
  • If your laundry has a sink, install a low flow aerator on the faucet. These inexpensive devices are easy to install and may save 2 gallons per minute or more.
  • Pretreat stains to prevent having to wash more than once.
  • Consider replacing an older washing machine. Some new models use as little as 12 gallons per load (compared to 40 for standard top loading machines) and offer faster spins that reduce drying time.

4. Tips for the kitchen:

  • Only run the dishwasher when it is full. It will use the same amount of water regardless of how many dishes are inside, so get the most bang for your water buck.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, don't let the rinse water run. Fill the second basin with rinse water, or turn the water off between rinsing.
  • Don't run water to wait for it to get cool. Fill a pitcher with water and store it in the refrigerator.
  • Check and repair leaks often. Leaks are one of the largest wasters of water in the home.
  • Save the "waiting to get hot" water and use it to water plants, or put it in a pitcher in the fridge to drink later.
  • Don't let the faucet run while you scrub vegetables. Put a stopper in the sink and partially fill it instead.
  • Don't use warm water to thaw out food, put it in the microwave, or in the refrigerator the night before.