Although we live in arid regions, abundant water resources are often seen as a God-given right. From a yard with thirsty turf to a sprinkler system that waters the pavement as much as the lawn, our actions often give little indication that Lubbock has to pipe the vast majority of water.
In addition to taxing our checkbook, the mismatch between our water supply and consumption poses a challenge to Lubbock’s long-term viability. While there’s nothing we can do about rainwater, there are actions that can help control our water usage and bills. Since many lawns are still dormant at this time of year, this article will focus on reducing water usage in your home.
• Sink: Depending on how you use your faucet, water-efficient faucet aerators can reduce usage by up to 84%. While this can be beneficial in any situation, it can really help if you tend to leave water behind. Since flow rates range from 0.35 to 2.2 gallons per minute, make sure the aerator you choose provides enough volume for your task. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faucet_aerator.
• Shower warm-up: Have you ever left your shower unattended while waiting for it to warm up? If so, what are the odds that you will be in the shower at the exact time the water gets hot? In other words, it’s safe to say that warm water that could be used in the shower is actually being lost. To eliminate this loss, Evolve showerheads offer a product that shuts off the water when your shower reaches operating temperature. The program, called “Ladybugs,” saves an estimated $75 a year. While that number may be a bit optimistic, if it were half, it would be great. For more information, visit https://www.thinkevolve.com/pages/showerstart-tsv3.
• Shower: While a low flow shower head goes without saying, I find the “drip” valve very useful. You can turn off or slow down the water flow when you scrub with soap. Be sure to turn off the trickle flow so the water stays warm when the valve is closed. This product can be purchased at any hardware store. Depending on your habits, this feature can save at least as much water as a low-flow head.
• Toilet: In addition to leaks, toilet water comes from flushing and filling. Although the two appear to be the same thing, they are not. When the toilet is filled, some of the water goes into the tank (for flushing), and additional fluid is sent through the fill line to other areas of the toilet. For flushing, there are a variety of toilet lids designed to precisely adjust the amount of water used. For such products, check online reviews as quality varies. For filling, there are toilet valves that allow you to adjust the amount of water that goes through the filling tube. Since filling wastes a lot of water, I totally recommend that you have to replace this type of valve next time. While this is a relatively new feature, they are now common in home improvement stores.
• Loss of water: While this is an uncommon condition, a broken hose in a washing machine can waste a lot of water and damage your home. In fact, a typical broken hose can spill 500 gallons in an hour. To address this, the company provides shut-off valves that trip when the sensor detects a burst hose. This solution seems overly complicated and expensive to me. As a cheaper and simpler alternative, I recommend a timer shut-off valve. When operating the washing machine, set a timer on the valve and the washing machine will fill with water. With the timer off automatically, no water will flow through and there is no risk of a burst pipe flooding your home. These valves are available at home improvement stores. For example, visit www.aaronco.com/2552702/p/n/keeney-2354.
While there are many ways to save water, I thought I’d highlight the quick, easy, and proven methods at home. Also, I want to avoid obvious advice like fixing leaks and faster showers. In addition to saving money, you’ll help ensure Lubbock’s long-term viability.
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SEAN FIELDS is AJ’s savvy shopper. Read his columns on Sunday and Wednesday. Email him at SavvyShopperLubbock@gmail.com, like his Facebook page at Facebook.com/LubbockSavvyShopper, or check out previous columns and deals at lubbockonline.com/savvy-shopper.