(Excerpt from the Newsletter by Carson Dunlop. For full version, please click on the picture)
Wet, Hot, Canadian Summer
Few images scream "summertime fun" as much as children playing in an open fire hydrant. In fact, most classic summer activities are built on water usage - whether it's for ammo in a water gun or balloon fight, or for cooling off by running through a sprinkler or taking a dip in the pool. To fund these and other summertime endeavours like gardening and car washing, households typically consume considerable amounts of water from June until September.
Conscious of water waste and bills, many people often start out hard on water consumption, but summer's heat has a way of melting resolves. Is there a way to continue enjoying these wet summer pastimes without breaking the bank? We've compiled a list of tips and tricks to help limit your water usage- while ensuring you still have a fun and refreshing summer! Consider the following to help save the planet and your wallet.
- Keep a jug of drinking water in the fridge
This simple idea can make a substantial difference to you and your family's water intake. Nothing satisfies like a cool glass of water when you've been out in the hot sun, but to get your tap water as cold as you'd like it you often have to run your tap for several seconds. The water lost as you wait for it to cool down may seem inconsequential, but when you think about the amount of water you and your family consume, it starts to seem more relevant. Having a jug of water ready in your refrigerator lessens the water you waste- and means you've got cold water when you want it - win, win. Try it out today and see what a difference it makes!
- Fix leaks
Dripping faucets and running toilets sometimes seem more frustrating in terms of noise pollution rather than water consumption. The "plunk...plunk...plunk" will keep you awake at night, not with worry about your water bill, but simply because it's annoying. However, these little leaks can make a big difference when it comes to water waste. To see the approximate extent of your leak place a bowl or bucket in your sink overnight, measure the water in it and extrapolate. Determining the severity of a toilet leak is more complex. Try putting dye in your toilet tank - use a prominent colour, like red or purple. The saturation levels in your toilet bowl the next morning should give you a clear visual of the issue.
Tip: If you don't feel confident enough to fix the leak yourself, finding someone to do it for you can be overwhelming. We recommend looking to referral services like HomeStars and Angie's List, where users rate the individuals and companies that performed work on their home. These can go a long way in finding a contractor or handyperson you can trust.
- Be smart about hygiene
After an afternoon of gardening in the hot sun, what could be better than a cold glass of water and a nice, long shower? Very little, that's what, but it's important to be smart about your shower usage. When going about your daily hygiene routine, note that baths use a lot more water than the average 20 minute shower. We encourage homeowners to be aware of the time they and their family spend showering. Although it may feel satisfying lingering under the showerhead so you can win that imaginary argument or hit that solo, quick showers make for happy wallets.
Tip: Some families use an egg timer to ensure that no one exceeds the 20 minute mark.
- Upgrade your appliances
This is a more extreme solution to the issue of water waste. Yes, inefficient washers and dryers, dishwashers, and toilets use more water than their energy-efficient counterparts, but replacing them is expensive. High-end, energy efficiency appliances will save you money in the long run, but are a costly investment. We advise pursuing this option only if your appliances are end-of-life.
- Water your lawn the smart way
Is there really a good time to water your lawn? Short answer: yes. Watering your lawn early in the morning limits the amount of water lost to evaporation. A healthy lawn typically requires watering about once a week - not every day, as popular opinion would have you believe. It's also important that you do not drown your lawn. You should soak down to the roots, but do not douse your lawn to the point that runoff occurs. Again, a healthy lawn usually needs about 2.5 cm of water.
Tip: Remember, during times of extreme heat and low rainfall, a brown lawn is normal; it does not mean that your lawn is dead. Lush, green lawns are arguably more aesthetically pleasing, but it's important to be savvy with your water usage.
- Be aware of the weather
If there is a forecast for rain, put off watering your lawn or washing your car. When possible, let Mother Nature be your sprinkler. This approach will help in limiting water usage and over-watering of your lawn. It also means one less chore to worry about! You can also collect rainwater in a barrel and use it to water your lawn and garden. If you decide to do this, it's important to keep your barrel covered when it's not raining to make sure not to attract insects or other pests.
- Fix leaks (again!)
Leaking garden hoses and hose connections are a major contributor to water loss outside the home. This is an issue that often gets overlooked as you only encounter it when you use your sprinkler or hose, which is usually on a weekly basis. However, we encourage homeowners to address this problem as soon as they can to curb their water loss. Typical fixes usually involve replacing the hose or sprinkler. Check to see where exactly the leak is coming from to determine your best course of action.
- Use a broom not the hose
When cleaning off your patio or driveway, a broom can be just as effective as the hose. Instead of using a lot of water to rinse off the dirt and debris, save the water and sweep everything away. This may seem like common sense, but it can make a significant difference when it comes to the amount of water you use.