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During one of California’s most severe droughts on record, we are all trying to look for ways to conserve water. From simple changes in behavior to large landscape projects, there are many ways to do your part to save water. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind and ways to contribute to the cause.
- Identify problem areas.
If you are not sure where to start, some water districts have water assessments or calculators to see how much water you currently use and ways to reduce your water usage. They review your water usage, provide faucet aerators and high efficiency showerheads if needed, and suggest water efficiency improvements. Santa Clara Valley Water District provides free Water Wise House Calls to identify ways to save water. San Mateo County and San Francisco County also have free water evaluation programs for residential customers. The City of Palo Alto offers a complimentary advisor service called Home Efficiency Genie that allows residents to schedule a no-cost phone consultation with a certified water and energy expert to discuss their efficiency concerns. Schedule your free house call today, or check with your local water company to determine what programs are available.
- Cut time from your morning routine.
An important strategy for conserving water is behavior change. Make sure to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or lathering your hands. Cut five minutes off your shower time and turn the water off while you soap up and shave. Installing faucet aerators and high efficiency showerheads in the kitchen and bathrooms is an inexpensive way to save water. Most local water companies will even provide these items at no charge.
- Wait for full washing loads.
Instead of running the dishwasher every night, wait until you have a full dishwasher to run it. The same goes for laundry. Always wash full loads of laundry even if your machine has an adjustable load size setting. Wash your clothes in cold water to save on energy usage. High efficiency clothes washers can save water and energy usage up to 40%. Rebates are available through PG&E and most Bay Area water agencies for new Energy Star high efficiency clothes washers.
- Check for leaks.
Leaks from water sources can be a silent way to waste gallons of water. If you turn off all of the water fixtures in your home and see a moving dial on your water meter, you have a leak. Check your sprinkler system and toilets for leaks to ensure you are not wasting water. For the toilets, drop a dye tablet in the tank. If you see any color in the bowl after 10 to 15 minutes, you have a silent leak. Change out the rubber flapper to stop the leak. Check with your local water district about rebates for high efficiency toilets. If your water district does not have any rebates, Save Our Water is a rebate program for residents across California and provides up to $100 for qualifying high efficiency toilets.
- Replace your lawn with drought resistant pants.
Drought resistant plants can be a beautiful and smart way to save on outdoor water usage. Several water districts including Solano, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma County provide rebates for replacing your lawn with landscapes that require much less water to maintain. The Bay Area Eco Gardens website has great resources, example photos, and plant lists for draught resistant landscaping.
Looking for other ways to save and be more efficient?
For Palo Alto residents, the Home Efficiency Genie is available to schedule customized energy and water assessments to reveal ways to improve your home’s overall efficiency. Complimentary efficiency advisors are also available to analyze your utility bill and work with you to develop a customized roadmap for reducing your energy and water consumption. For more information about Home Efficiency Genie visit www.efficiencygenie.com or call 650-713-3411 to speak with an advisor today.
For Bay Area homeowners looking to conserve energy and interested in receiving up to $6,500 in rebates, the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) provides complimentary access to Home Upgrade Advisors. Your advisor will work with you to identify ways to make your home more energy efficient and provide assistance throughout your efficiency project. For more information, visit www.bayareaenergyupgrade.org or call 866-878-6008 to talk with an advisor and learn more.
— Jeff Strauss, Program Manager at CLEAResult in San Mateo, California.