ROSIE ON THE HOUSE

Stay aware of how much water you’re wasting in your Arizona home

Apr 18, 2024, 3:00 PM

(Shuttershock Photo)...

(Shuttershock Photo)

(Shuttershock Photo)

April in Arizona is Water Awareness Month. Have you ever wondered if you are doing everything you can to minimize water use at your home? Here are some practical tips to achieve low water usage.

Here are some tips that are easy to apply in our everyday lives.

Rainwater

Collecting rainwater is a timeless and simple way to conserve water. Whether on a municipal or commercial system or a domestic well, collecting the free water from the sky and using it will reduce your water consumption.

  • Rainwater harvesting can be as simple as emptying your gutters and downspouts into a bucket or barrel. The collection system can be quite elaborate as well. Some of the larger barrels can store thousands of gallons.
  • Make sure your gutters direct the water at least 3 feet from the house. Water close to the house can cause foundation issues.

Rainwater can be directed onto your property into a holding tank or even a surface water feature.

Collected rainwater is typically used for outdoor landscaping. We don’t recommend rainwater as potable or drinking water. However, it can water your garden or lawn, wash patio furniture, or even wash your car.

  • It is not recommended to store water in an open container as it will be a breeding ground for mosquitos- even here in the desert!

Xeriscape

Xeriscape is the practice of planting native plants that tolerate low water use. Some ways to achieve Xeriscape landscaping include:

  • Replace grass with crushed and colored gravel.
  • Use plants native to where you live.
  • Install irrigation systems with timers.
  • Use a landscape specialist to determine the type of planting zones that exist in your yard and the plants that will thrive there.
  • Because our wonderful state of Arizona is so climatically diverse, consult your local nursery or garden clubs to determine which plants are best and how to plant and care for them.

Plumbing

By examining our plumbing systems and fixtures, we can find very effective ways to control our water use.

  • Use Grey Water Plumbing. Grey water is water from our tubs, showers, bathroom sinks, and laundry that can be redirected to our landscaping. The ‘blackwater’ from our toilets and kitchen sinks still goes into the sewer or septic system and should not be reused. Rules governing greywater differ between the building departments of our various jurisdictions, so checking in with your local building department is necessary before making any changes.
  • Plumbing fixtures such as faucets and shower heads can be replaced with faucets that restrict water quantity but not pressure.
  • Upgrade to low-flow toilets. Replacing a 3-gallon per flush toilet with a 1.5-gallon flush or a dual flush toilet can also significantly reduce our overall water consumption.

Appliances

As your water using appliances get ready to be upgraded, consider using a replacement that does the job using less water.

  • Older model washing machines can typically use 20 to 22 gallons of water per load. Newer, more efficient models can use between 10 to 14 gallons of water per load. The water savings can amount up to 2000 to 3000 gallons annually.
  • Older dishwashers use between 9 to 14 gallons per cycle. Newer models can use as little as 4 gallons per cycle. Similar to washing machines, the water savings can be up to 2000 to 3000 gallons per year.

We all use these appliances differently, so the water consumption numbers and savings will clearly vary. If everyone upgrades their dishwashers and washing machines, savings for a city of 100,000 folks could be upwards of 100 million gallons a year. These numbers give us pause and help us to realize that our individual choices can add up to big savings.

Daily Habits

Kick out your wasteful water habits! Let’s look at some of the more common practices that might be considered bad water usage habits.

  • Washing and rinsing dishes by hand. We can be tempted to wash our dishes by hand when we don’t have a full load for the dishwasher. A better option is to rinse dirty dishes quickly and load them into the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher when full to save lots of gallons over time.
  • Using a broom to clean the patio or driveway in lieu of the hose is wasteful; kinda of a no-brainer here.
  • Don’t let the water run while you are performing another task. This is a common practice when we are cooking or brushing our teeth.
  • Consider installing a hot water recirculating system. This may require supply piping and may or may not be practical. Having a licensed plumber come in to take a look doesn’t cost you. But it may be able to save lots of water by not having to run water for a minute or so till the hot water arrives on the other side of the house.

Incentives

In Arizona, many water providers offer monetary incentives for us to change our habits. Some towns have incentives to replace older appliances and plumbing fixtures, to add xeriscaping or to remove grass lawn. The amount of the incentives varies from provider to provider. Also, the amount offered typically will not cover the entire cost of the change out, but every little bit helps.

Call your local provider to find out what is offered and how you can apply for some of these rebates, and as all Arizonans know, water is precious use it wisely!

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email info@rosieonthehouse.com. Follow us on X and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.

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Stay aware of how much water you’re wasting in your Arizona home