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Remodeling University: Saving Water

With winter behind us and spring in full bloom summer cannot be far behind.
Southern California summer means an increase in both energy use (for air conditioning) and water use (for maintaining a green lawn and yard).
In case the wet winter dimmed anyone’s memory, the cost of water skyrocketed last year with significant penalties for water use above the allotted quota.
It is therefore time to quickly review what can be done about avoiding water waste and about saving on water use.

Even minute leaks can add up to a LOT of water (and a correspondingly painful water bill).
How to discover water leaks:
1. Check for leaks: after making sure that no water is running, take a look at your water meter. There should be a little (red or blue, typically) dial, that is separate from the main dial. This dial is sensitive to any water use and would rotate even with a little leak. Make sure it is rock solid for a whole minute or so. If it is not, somewhere water is being used or is leaking.
2. Check for leaks: Review all sprinklers and sprinklers’ valves. When not in operation all parts should be dry. If parts seem wet or damp, there is probably a little leak. Replace all needed parts.
3. Check for leaks: Review all toilet flushing mechanisms. Once the tank is re-filled, no more water should ‘run’. It is not uncommon for toilets to ‘run’. That is, for water to continue to fill the tank, only to be discharged into the bowl. This can be in a continuous manner or in short bursts every 30 seconds or so.
4. Check for leaks: Check all faucets in the house to make sure none is dripping when not in use. Replace gaskets, cartridges or entire faucets as needed when leaking.
5. Check for leaks: If you have an automatic pool filler make sure it is operating properly without a constant water loss.

Now that you know no water is leaking you can focus on reducing your water use.
Aside from the obvious (shorter showers, for example) here is what else you can do:
1. Toilets: At worst, you should be using toilets with 1.6 gallons per flush. If you have much older toilets it might be a good time to upgrade. Note that even thriftier toilets are available. Do some research.
2. Washing machine: While I don’t recommend going out and getting a new washing machine just to save on water usage, I do recommend looking into energy and water efficient washing machines when you do need to replace the old one.
3. Yard: in many residences, most of the water usage is for watering the yard. Savings here could be very significant as most sprinklers systems are hugely inefficient. Very significant savings can be had with weather based or moisture based controllers. Many of these systems tie into your existing timer. A much more efficient watering schedule and use results.
4. Yard: If you are redoing your yard or parts of it, try to minimize lawn areas as these are the ‘water hogs’ you want to avoid.

For the most part, saving significantly on your water bill is not too complicated nor expensive to do. When remodeling, Los Angeles residents can easily increase their ROI by paying attention and allocating some resources to saving water. As noted above, these savings are not expensive to realize and would pay for themselves in no time at all.

Happy remodeling!

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