As the temperature rises, so does water use, as Americans head outdoors to embrace time-honored summer rituals from washing the car to watering the lawn. In fact, according to the EPA’s WaterSense program, water usage on a peak day in the average American home spikes to 1,000 gallons per day, compared to 260 gallons off-peak. Illinois American Water, a partner of EPA WaterSense, offers 10 easy tips consumers can follow* to reduce the environmental impact of their water habits both indoors and out.
1. Water your lawn only when it needs it. An easy test to tell if your lawn needs water is to simply walk across the grass. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water. (An added benefit of watering less often is that fewer, deep-soaking waterings encourage deep root growth and stronger turf.)2. Water in the early morning. As much as 30 percent of water can be lost to evaporation by watering during midday.
3. Set your lawn mower one notch higher to make your lawn more drought-tolerant.
4. Use drip irrigation hoses to water plants, and water in the early morning or evening.
5. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalk, driveway, or patio.
6. Forego the hose and wash your car with a bucket and sponge instead. According to EPA WaterSense, a hose left running can waste as much as six gallons per minute while a bucket and sponge uses only a few gallons to do the job.
7. Keep a bottle of cold tap water in the refrigerator. You’ll avoid the cost and environmental impact of bottled water and you’ll have cold water available in the summer without running the faucet.
8. Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are full. If you have a water-saver cycle, use it.
9. Adjust the water level of your clothes washer so it matches your load size.
10. Regularly check your toilet, faucets and pipes for leaks and have them fixed promptly.
An easy test for toilet leaks from EPA WaterSense: Place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If the color tints the water in the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak.
Illinois American Water also recommends checking your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak. Leak detection kits are available by calling the Illinois American Water Customer Service Center at 1-800-422-2782 or by visiting the Learning Center at www.illinoisamwater.com for a downloadable pdf version.