Water Conservation Tips: 8 Ways to Save Water in Winter
When there is no rain in sight and the weather is dry and hot, most Californians are painfully aware of our ongoing drought. During the warmer months, we talk a lot about conserving water, we make more of an effort to keep our water consumption in check, and we can get pretty judgy about our neighbors watering plants on the wrong day of the week. However, once the rainy season hits and we start to see some showers, we tend to slack off a bit.
Although the amount of rain we get during the wetter months is not enough to relieve our drought conditions, it is enough to make many of us think that we do not have to worry quite as much about whether or not we use a little extra water here and there. However, we cannot afford to take a lax attitude towards water conservation when winter rolls around. We must continue our water-saving efforts throughout the year and remember that once our relatively short rainy season ends, we will be back to worrying about whether we might run out of water someday.
To help you maintain your efforts to conserve water all through the year, here are eight winter water-saving tips to get you started.
8 Ways to Conserve Water in Winter
1. Stop or reduce watering your natural grass lawn.
One place where Southern California differs from most other areas in the country is that natural grass lawns can keep right on growing through the winter. If you are not quite ready to remove your natural grass lawn and replace it with drought-tolerant natives or artificial turf, you can still save water by adjusting your irrigation system to account for any rain we receive. You can water your lawn less frequently once the weather cools off, turn off your irrigation system during and after rain, or install a rain sensor that will automatically shut off your irrigation system when it rains to help you save water.
2. Remove your natural grass lawn.
If you are having a hard time letting go of your natural grass lawn but know how much it could help your water conservation efforts, winter may be the ideal time to take the plunge. Lawns often do not look quite as nice during the winter months, particularly if you stop watering it or live in an area that freezes, so it might hurt a bit less to remove it while it is dormant. Keep an eye out for lawn removal rebates that may help offset the cost of removing your lawn, or consider a HERO loan to make this water-saving project easier to afford.
3. Install a rain barrel.
Winter is the perfect time to install a rain barrel and start easily and affordably collecting rainwater from your gutter system. A single storm on an average Southern California roof can fill multiple 50-gallon barrels, which makes this an easy way to harvest water that can be used for irrigation and other purposes. Collecting and using rainwater from rain barrels is an excellent way to conserve water during winter and throughout the year.
4. Have your plumbing checked and make repairs.
Regularly checking your plumbing is particularly important if you live in the mountains or inland areas where the temperature drops below freezing. A plumber can look for leaks, find older pipes that are at risk of bursting and need replacing, and make recommendations to help you winterize your plumbing system. This might include insulating hot water pipes or wrapping all pipes to help prevent freezing.
5. Install a tankless water heater.
One easy way to save water is to run it for a shorter period of time before getting in the shower. Of course, most of us are running it before we get in so that it will reach a comfortable temperature, particularly during winter. Unfortunately, this practice wastes gallons of water every time we take a shower. With a tankless water heater, you will get hot water much faster and, therefore, will not have to run it as long before starting your shower.
6. Take your car to the car wash.
The holidays are coming, which often means more guests staying at your house, picking up family members at the airport and driving to relative’s houses for holiday meals. For some, this means washing your car more often during this highly-social time of year. You can wash your car at home using harvested rain water or you can conserve water this winter by taking your car to a car wash with a water reclamation system.
7. Keep Your Pool Covered.
You will likely use your pool less once the temperature begins to drop. Because of this, it should not be too much of an inconvenience to keep your pool covered except for when in use. Evaporation is a bigger issue during hotter months, but happens year-round in Southern California. By keeping your pool covered, you can save hundreds of gallons of water each month and thousands of gallons throughout the year.
8. Let your faucets drip.
Okay, this winter water-saving tip is going to sound counterintuitive and most Southern Californians should not do this. However, if you live in an area that freezes and you have not wrapped your pipes, allowing your faucets to drip during below-freezing weather can help you avoid a pipe bursting, which would waste a lot more water. By placing buckets under the faucets to catch the drips, you can collect that water for later use for irrigation, flushing toilets or washing your car.
Winter Water-Saving Tips: Further Reading
- How to Conserve Water Inside and Outside the Home in Southern California
- How to Use Water from Rain Barrels: Tips + Ideas
- California Water Restrictions are Now Permanent: What It Means for San Diego + Southern California
- 10 Easy Things Anyone Can Do Now to Save Water
- 35 Easy Ways to Save Water Around the House
- 20 Water-Saving New Year’s Resolutions
Photo Credits (in order of appearance): morgueFile, ardelfin; morgueFile, gracey; morgueFile, alexfrance; morgueFile, kakisky; morgueFile, ttronslien