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Around the House, At Home

Save water, save money

Even if we are fortunate to have robust rains in March, the lack of rain and snow that dominated our winter months will leave us playing catch up to reach average rainfall totals. Although it is important to conserve water all the time, the threat of drought conditions emphasizes the need for water saving.

Simple behavioral modifications and fixture upgrades and improvements are an easy place to start around the house to make sure your home is efficient in saving water.

Here are some changes you can make to significantly reduce your water bill:

Toilets: A leaking toilet can cost you thousands of dollars in water and sewer charges each year. Installing a high-efficiency toilet, or one that uses 1.28 gallons of water per flush, is one of the simplest ways to save water. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) offers rebates to eligible homeowners for upgrading older models that use more water. Another way to make your toilet more efficient is to install a dual flush system, which offers two options on the amount of water used when flushing.

Faucet aerators: An aerator restricts water flow, making the faucet more efficient. These are inexpensive and very simple to install. Also, repair any leaking faucets.

Showers: Besides taking shorter showers, installing a low-flow showerhead will save gallons of water each time your shower.

Gardening: Water during the morning or evening only. Doing so reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation. Watering early in the day is preferable because wet foliage from evening watering makes plants susceptible to fungal diseases. Don’t over irrigate – use a soil probe to determine if watering is actually needed (probe twice, water once). Place mulch around trees, shrubs and plants. Mulch slows evaporation, reducing plants’ water needs. Use a nozzle hose faucet, a water timer, and the proper sprinkler, and water only what needs to be watered by controlling the coverage area.

Sweep: Instead of using a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways from leaves and debris, use a broom.

Laundry: Purchase a high-efficiency clothes washer, which use 40 percent less water and energy, is much gentler on your clothing, and uses less detergent than older models. Wash only full loads of laundry too.

The SFPUC currently offers free Water Wise Evaluations. Trained specialists will visit your home or business and provide you with an assessment tailored to meet your specific needs. They offer guidance on how to read your water meter as a tool for detecting silent leaks and assessing your water usage, and make recommendations about rebates and other incentive programs you may be eligible for through SFPUC. For more information visit or phone (415) 551-4730.

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