Summer is the peak season for residential water use, which can increase by an average of two to four times the typical winter water use. These big increases are driven by activities like car washing, filling swimming pools and (the real biggie) lawn and landscape irrigation. It makes sense then that July is the annual Smart Irrigation Month.
While hanging out in the yard can be carefree summer fun, saving water is serious business. As one of the most devastating droughts in decades stretches over much of the United States this summer – with one-third of all counties in a state of water emergency – it’s easy to see that no section of the country is immune from drought or water scarcity.
Conserving water doesn’t have to be a drag. Here are some cool outdoor water-saving tips you can use when the temperature heats up.
- Xeriscape! GIn other words, minimize or eliminate your lawn watering by creating a landscape that doesn’t need as much water. That could mean switching to native plants and trees – like succulents and cacti – that can survive entirely on rainwater, or installing rock gardens. Learn more about xeriscaping.
- Have a swimming pool? Use a pool cover! By covering your pool when you're not using it you'll stop thousands of gallons of water from evaporating, and you won’t have to clean it as often. Learn more about covering pools.
- Don’t let the hose run. Whether you're washing your car or watering your plants, don’t let the hose run when not in use. Buy a squeeze (pistol grip) nozzle for your hose so you don’t have to use the tap to start and stop the flow.
- Rainwater collection. If you can, set up a rain barrel under a rain gutter outside your house. You can catch hundreds of gallons to use for watering the lawn, washing the car, etc. Just don’t drink it, and make sure to keep it covered with a fine-mesh screen so it doesn’t breed mosquitoes. Check your local municipal regulations to see if a rain barrel is allowed. Learn more about rain barrels.
- Pack your own bottle. When you're on the go in town or traveling on vacation, avoid bottled water purchases by filling your own bottle with tap water from home. Not only will it you save money, but you'll save water (and energy) because it takes about three liters of water to produce a one-liter bottle of water.
- Be water-smart with your lawn. “Turf painting” is all the rage this year, but if you must water your lawn, to reduce evaporation, water during the cool parts of the day – early morning or late evening. Gusty winds also increase evaporation, so avoid watering on blustery days.
- Water, don’t waste. When setting up your sprinklers, make sure you're not watering the sidewalk or driveway. Not only does that squander already strained water supplies, it can also carry polluting fertilizers and pesticides into streets and sewer systems. Even better, installing a drip irrigation system can save water and knock some dollars off of your water bill and over time, can recoup your upfront investment.
For more ways to save water outside and inside the house, at work, at school and on the road, check out our Water-saving Tips.