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Be Water-Wise

Save Water Indoors

How often do we take clean flowing tap water for granted? A seemingly unlimited supply is piped directly into our homes for less than a penny per gallon. Even Florida, the land of liquid sunshine, is facing a thirsty future with population growth doubling water use by 2070. Using water wisely begins at home, with simple actions like repairing plumbing leaks, upgrading to water-saving fixtures and appliances, and adopting everyday conservation and disposal practices that become lifelong habits. Minimal up-front investments will pay immediate dividends in lower water bills.

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low flow faucets save water

Get Started

We’ve sifted through all sorts of water saving tips to find the ones that are easiest and most effective. In many cases, the solutions are free—you just make a small tweak to the way you do things. There are also many low-cost solutions that only require a quick trip to the home improvement store. We’ve made shopping for water-saving gadgets easy by creating this Amazon Idea List showing examples of the product types recommended below.

Step 1

Lose the Leaks

Cost: $0-20

detect water leaks to conserve water

Drip, drip, drip. That sound is annoying and it’s costing you money. Leaks add about 10% more to your water bills.

 

Get the Facts on Leaks

 

detect water leaks to save water

 

Learn to spot more than just the visible drips.

Locating a Water Leak

  • Listen for sounds such as hissing, splashing, or clicking when your faucets are off.
  • Look for cracks, stains, sinking, peeling or damp areas in ceilings, walls, floors, and cabinets.
  • Smell under sinks and in cabinets for musty, earthy odors.
  • Drop food coloring in your toilet tank, wait 10 minutes, and look for color in the bowl.
  • Check your water meter. Turn off all your water, then check to see if it’s still running. Step-by-step

Drip Cost Calculator

Fixing a Water Leak

Fixing leaks is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to save water. You won’t even need a plumber to find and fix many common household drips—just a quick trip to the hardware store!

Check out this round-up of DIY video tutorials collected by the EPA Water Sense program that show you how to fix toilet, faucet, showerhead, and outdoor irrigation leaks yourself!

Watch DIY Tutorials

DIY Home Water Use Evaluation

get tools and tips for making your home more energy efficientHandy homeowners can check out Sarasota County’s free Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Assessment Kits, available at Sarasota County Libraries. The Kit provides tools and a step-by-step Home Water Evaluation Guide for analyzing your household water use and identifying ways to save. Visit the library catalogue to reserve your kit for pickup at a library near you.

WATCH: How To Use the DIY Home Water Evaluation Kit

Don’t have a library card number? Sign up to get instant access to reserve items and check-out digital resources. When you pick up the Kit, you will need to show identification with proof of residence.  Reciprocal and visitor library cards are also available.

Step 2

Geek Out on Gadgets

Cost: $5-500

turn off the tap to save water

It’s good to be a gadget geek when it comes to conserving water. Using water saving fixtures can reduce indoor water usage by 20%.

 

Water saving gadgets

Installing faucet aerators, low-flow shower heads, dual-flush toilet tanks, and motion-sensor faucets is a smart move. Look for products with the WaterSense label indicating they meet or exceed the performance of standard models and save at least 20% more water. Or try this DIY hack for creating a low-flow toilet.

 

low flow faucets conserve water

 

Local governments, including Manatee County and the City of Venice, often offer rebates of up $100 to replace water-wasting toilets in older homes.

 

Water saving appliances

Step it up by investing in water-stingy washing machines and dishwashers. Certified Energy Star appliances conserve both water and energy. An Energy Star washing machine can reduce your energy costs by 33% and cut your water costs by more than 50%. Efficient hot water delivery systems that reduce the wait for water to get hot are another smart investment that recoups installation costs over time. Check out gently used appliances at Habitat ReStore.

Step 3

Make Conservation a Habit

Cost: Free

Mindfulness matters when it comes to water conservation. Changing your own behavior, even in small ways, delivers big results. Modern plumbing fixtures and appliances definitely reduce water use but turning off the tap is just as important.

 

 

In The Kitchen

  • Run the dishwasher only when it’s full to save nearly 320 gallons of water annually for the average family.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge so you don’t have to run the faucet while you wait for cold water to reach the tap.
  • Skip the dish rinsing! Scrape food scraps into a compost bin instead of rinsing them down the drain. Garbage disposals require a lot of water to work properly (and compost is like “Black Gold” for your garden). Plus, today’s dishwashers are designed to remove stuck-on food with less water.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the fridge or microwave instead of using running water.

 

In The Bathroom

  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth to save 8 gallons of water per day.
  • Take shorter showers—each minute you reduce saves 2.5 gallons of water. Aim for 5 minutes or less by making a 5-minute shower playlist on your favorite music app. Here are a few suggested playlists. Claim extra Water Warrior credits for turning off the shower while you soap up and shampoo.

 

In The Laundry

  • Only wash full loads of laundry and use the cold-water setting (which is better for your clothes anyway).

Outdoors

Watering the average-sized lawn 20 minutes every day for a week is like taking 800 showers. Cut out the grass to cut your water use outdoors and tune-up your irrigation system with timely repairs, drip irrigation, and rain sensors.

 

Food Choices

Food has a huge water footprint. In the U.S., 80 percent of all water consumed is used in agriculture, which means the largest portion of your water footprint comes from your diet. To save water, eat lower on the food chain, eat less processed foods, and minimize food waste.

Energy Use

It takes water to make electricity and fuel, and it takes energy to move, heat, and treat water, so saving energy saves water.

 

Consumer Purchases

Everything you buy, use, and throw away takes water to process and transport. Use less by making thoughtful purchases and reusing and recycling more.

 

Cultivate Water-Wise Habits

What’s My Water Footprint?

From showers to shopping and flushes to food, it can really add up. Use this calculator to itemize your family’s direct and indirect water use habits and see which account for the most water use. You’ll be surprised! Compare your daily water footprint to the national average.

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Sorry, One More Thing

We need to talk about your sewage

The fresh water that’s piped into your house for drinking and washing is also used to flush your sewage out. But it’s not all smooth sailing once you flush.  Backups, leaking pipes, and failing septic tanks can connect our plumbing through groundwater and stormwater to our bays and beaches, contaminating them with raw or partially treated sewage. Protecting water also means curbing water pollution—because it’s all the same drops.

Here’s what you can do to keep sewage out of our waters.

 

Your toilet is not a trash can

Many municipal sewage overflows are caused by blockages and backups due to consumer trash in the pipes. They may seem harmless and the package may even say “flushable,” but things like cotton swabs, cigarette butts, tampons, condoms, and wipes are not flushable! Fats, oils, and grease down the kitchen sink also cause backups. The only things that should ever be flushed down the loo are pee, poo and toilet paper!

If you have a Septic System:

Regular septic maintenance and care saves costly repairs and helps curb pollution. Find a licensed septic system contractor and follow these steps:

  • Schedule pump outs and inspections every 3−5 years.
  • Compost kitchen scraps, rather than using your garbage disposal, to extend time between pump outs.
  • Avoid dumping harmful chemicals in sinks and toilets; they can kill the biological treatment in your system.
  • Avoid washing clothes or running dishwashers during rainstorms to keep from overloading the drain field.
  • Avoid driving or parking vehicles over your drain field to prevent compacting soils or damaging pipes.
  • Avoid planting trees or shrubs over or near your drain field to prevent damage from roots.
  • If your septic system needs major repairs, consider upgrading to Advanced Septic Treatment.

If you are connected to Central Sewer:

 

Make sure your lateral sewer line is in good shape; this is the sewer pipe that runs from your home to the street and connects to the central sewer system. Your lateral line is your responsibility. Contact a plumber if you notice any of these symptoms of cracks, tree roots, or separated pipe joints:

  • Regular sewage backups or slow drains
  • Sewer gas odor in or around your home
  • Unexplained patches of extra-green grass, depressions, or damp spots in your landscaping

Houses built before 1975 are more likely to have sewer lines made of outdated materials that are prone to leaks and cracks. Consider having a plumber or home inspector perform a camera scope inspection. A minimal investment of a few hundred dollars could save you major repairs costing thousands.

Get Involved

Visit the Florida House

The Florida House is a water-and-energy conserving demonstration house in Sarasota, Florida that showcases water efficient technologies. Location: 4454 South Beneva Road.

Take a Class, Volunteer, Attend an Event, Speak Up

Find out what’s happening and join in with our comprehensive community events listing.

Look for these classes

  • Looking for Leaks – Learn how you can detect leaks fast, so you can conserve water and save big on your bill.
  • Save the Drops Water Conservation – Learn where your water comes from, how it is regulated by the state and county, and what steps we, as individuals, can take to conserve it. Look for dates for the live webinar, or enroll in the self-paced course.

Get Involved

Resources and More

Want to Talk to Someone?

Toilet Replacement Rebate

FAQ

What are the biggest water wasters in a home?

The #1 water waster in your home is the toilet. A leaking toilet can waste 15,000 gallons of water a month. To check if your toilet has a leak, place several drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color seeps into the toilet bowl within 30 minutes without flushing, your toilet has a leak. Water efficient toilets use 1.5 to 2 gallons per flush; older models can use up to 8 gallons per flush. Newer toilets cut total indoor water usage by 30%. Leaks in your home can also squander lots of water and leave your wallet lighter. A leak the size of a pinhead can waste 360,000 gallons of water a year. That is enough water to fill 20 average sized backyard pools.

Learn More

How can I help prevent sewer overflows into Sarasota and Tampa Bays?

You can help prevent overflows of raw or partially treated wastewater by being careful about what you flush down the toilet (only pee, poo and paper!); reducing your water use during heavy rains (avoid running dishwashers and washing machines); and keeping kitchen greases and oils out of your drains. If you have an older home, consider having a camera scope inspection to make sure the pipe from your home to the street (your sewer lateral) isn’t cracked or damaged by tree roots.

Learn More

Ask the Expert

Submit your water-related question to local experts. If selected, they will answer and feature your question on our FAQ. Not all questions will be answered. Please note that customer service questions should be directed to your utility provider.

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