Indoor Water Usage
Check for hidden leaks in your water system. Turn off all faucets in and around your house, then check the reading on your water meter. Wait 15 minutes without turning any water on, then check the meter again. If the reading has changed, you have a leak.
Check every faucet in your home for leaks. Just a slow leak can waste 15 to 20 gallons a day. Fix it and you will save about 6,000 gallons a year.
Put timers in your family bathrooms to encourage shorter showers. Reducing your time in the shower by one minute will save hundreds of gallons per household each month.
Think at the Sink
Limit water waste at the sink by running water just to wet and rinse the toothbrush instead of allowing the water to run while brushing your teeth. Apply the same idea when washing your hands.
Men should turn off the water while they shave. Running water faucets use 1.5 to 7 gallons per minute (depending on the age of the faucet).
In the kitchen, fill a basin or the sink with soapy water instead of letting the water run continuously when washing dishes by hand. Soak pans rather than scrubbing them while the water is running.
Wash only full loads of clothes and use the coldest setting possible. This approach saves water and energy.
Match the load setting with the amount of laundry to be washed if you must wash partial loads.
Only run the dishwasher when it's full. Use the shortest wash cycle for lightly soiled loads.
Dry scrape dishes instead of rinsing them and limit the pre-rinsing of dishes if you are using the dishwasher.
Avoid using the garbage disposal; compost food scraps or toss them in the garbage bin instead.
Check your toilets for leaks and repair any that you find. Replace the older toilets in your home with low flow toilets.
Replace water wasting appliances with energy efficient ones. Energy Star approved laundry machines and dishwashers save a significant amount of water and energy.
Save the Leftovers
Rinse fruit and vegetables in a bowl of water rather than running the faucet. Use the leftover water to water household plants.
Place a bucket in the shower to collect water while it heats up. Use the water on plants or to flush the toilet.
Outdoor Water Usage
Water your lawn in the early morning or in the evening, when the temperatures are cooler and water isn't lost to evaporation.
Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.
Adjust sprinklers so you don't water the house, sidewalk or street.
Use a timer to keep track of watering time and avoid overwatering.
Adjust your mower to a higher setting. Taller grass cools the soil and encourages deep roots. If you mow your grass too short, root growth slows down making the grass more susceptible to heat and drought. Or try a mulching mower.
Fertilize once a year in October after the rainy season to allow fertilizer to be absorbed by the roots. Always use zero phosphate fertilizer.
Be creative - wash your dog or your car on the lawn in an area that needs water.
Use a rain gauge and make weekly changes to your irrigation controller to account for weather changes. A hearty rain can eliminate the need for watering for up to two weeks. Check the soil below the surface before watering because even though the surface is dry, there may be moisture below the surface.
Kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and garbage waste are great for homemade compost, which your soil will love. Compost also helps retain water, reduces erosion and limits weed growth, which otherwise competes for water and nutrients.
Wash your car at a car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, use a hose nozzle and turn off the water while you soap up your car. Use phosphorus-free soap, which is better for the environment. Or consider washing your car on your lawn so any water used will benefit the turf as well.
Mulch around trees, shrubs and flowers to help retain soil moisture and prevent weeds. Mulch slows evaporation, keeps plant roots cooler and controls weeds.
Direct downspouts towards shrubs or trees or connect downspouts to a rain barrel.
Use extra water captured from indoor uses (heating up the shower, rinsing produce, etc.) as part of your watering procedure. Extra coffee and tea as well as water drained from pasta or boiling potatoes are all suitable for watering evergreens and other acidic-soils plants.
Install covers on pools and spas to reduce evaporation. A pool cover is a great way to reduce evaporation and the need to regularly top off your pool's water level. Without a cover, more than half of the water in your pool can evaporate over a year, with more than 1/4 evaporating between April and September.
Aerate your lawn once a year, particularly if your soil is compacted. This will improve the lawn's health and ability to absorb water.
If you have a standard green, red or other colored garden hose, the pigment used to color the hose likely contains lead that could leach into water passing through it. Therefore, it is recommended that you not drink the water from colored hoses. The only hoses that are safe to drink from or use for vegetable gardening will be labeled as lead-free and include statements that say "safe for drinking", "for potable water" or "meets NSF drinking water standards". Be a smart water user and check the label before purchase.