Aug 312010

As fresh water supplies become increasingly scarce in parts of the world, – and as part of a growing commitment to live greener lifestyles – conscientious Americans are proactively cutting back on the amount of water they use. And while many expected – and have already experienced – the many psychological and emotional benefits of doing their parts to reduce their carbon footprints, they might not have anticipated how much money they’re saving as well.

You see, conserving water is not only great for the environment, it’s also a big money saver and one where relatively small (and painless) changes can have huge impacts on your wallet!

Perhaps this sounds like a great idea to you (after all, why wouldn’t it?) but you may be less sure how to make it happen. In order to avoid overwhelm, I suggest you begin your conservation efforts outside, since many experts agree that landscaping accounts for more than 50% of a typical homeowner’s water usage.

Next, use the following six tips to help guide you; while there are many more, these are among my favorites because they’re all trouble-free, very affordable (or free) and they’ll save you loads of money.

1. Use gutters, grates, and channel drains to collect storm water. Then redirect it to capture apparatus like rain barrels, catch basins, and cisterns. This is a great way to have plenty of clean, fresh water for your plants, flowers, and grass. And you can also use it to wash off your deck or patio and give your auto a good cleaning.

2. Avoid watering your plants, flower, and grass during the hottest part of the day (10 am – 4 pm). Rather, water them in the early morning or wait until evening. This will cut back on the amount of water wasted due to evaporation.

3. Fix leaking hoses, sprinkler heads, and outside faucets fast. This is one of the easiest ways to save lots and lots of water 24/7, so take the time (5-10 minutes) to continually – and regularly – check to make sure nothing’s dripping.

4. Stop spraying and start sweeping. Trade in your hose for a broom and sweep away dead leaves, sticks, dirt, and other outdoorsy “stuff.” It does a perfectly acceptable job and it’s a “kinder” way to treat your wooden furniture. And if you need a little more “elbow grease” use household cleaners like Windex to help you get up those tougher spots.

5. Purchase a smart water controller. Water controllers are one of the most valuable outdoor gadgets around (what’s more they’re inexpensive little gems and you can buy them at places like Home Depot). They’re similar to traditional automatic “set-it-and-forget-it” sprinkler systems – only better. Why? Because they have internal sensors that collect soil and atmospheric information (real time) and virtual (web-based) weather data, which are used to automate and optimize watering schedules. These calculations are performed daily and also ensure that the exact right amount of water needed is delivered to your plants. And that means your plants won’t die of thirst or drown.

6. Rain sensors = Good Sense. Rain sensors often work hand-in-hand with water controllers (they’re sold separately or along with the controllers) in that they can add another “dimension” to your water-saving efforts (and they’re also very inexpensive and can even be wired to existing irrigation systems).

Here’s why… Rain sensors contain disks that enlarge when they come contact with moisture. When this happens a negative wire is tripped, and this stops the pump relay’s operation, and prevents the system from functioning; that is, until the disk dries out (which is close to the same drying rate as soil.) These are also readily available at places like Home Depot or you can order them on the Internet. If possible, however, I suggest that you check them out in person. This way you can discuss options with someone knowledgeable and get the one that best suits your needs (it’s also easier to exchange them if needed).

As I said earlier, these are just a few of the many ways you can help lessen the demand for fresh water (it starts one person at a time) and thereby, help yourself, your community, and the world. As a result, you’ll feel better, save money, and still enjoy a beautiful yard. So, why wait another minute, when there’s never been a better day to start? I promise, it will be one of the best decisions you ever made.

Tiffany Guerra, BA, MS, is an environmentalist, strategic marketing manager, and a freelance writer. Tiffany is passionate about helping people reduce their carbon footprints using practical, affordable, and uncomplicated methods. As such, she regularly contributes articles on topics such as the benefits of green spaces, the conservation of water, and more, to her company’s website ( ) and other online publications. If you’d like to learn more about ways to use landscaping to conserve water, add value to your home, and save money visit:

Author: Tiffany Guerra
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