My 19 month-old grandson finds true joy in the simplest pleasures in life. On Sunday afternoon I was marveling as he entertained himself for hours with a bucket of water in the backyard. As I watched him play, I was struck by how many children, including some in our own country, don’t have access to as much clean water in an entire day as my grandson was playing with in that single bucket.
Even in our homes in New Mexico where it is dry, it is easy to take for granted the precious resource of water. Water conservation is one of the most important green building steps we need to take in New Mexico.
According to the EPA, only 1 percent of the earth’s water is suitable for drinking. It may seem hard to believe but the average U.S. family uses 100 gallons of water each day. At that rate, it is estimated that by 2013 at least 36 states in the U.S. may be facing water shortages.
We need to conserve water to ensure an ample supply for our children and grandchildren. However, saving water also has the immediate benefit of saving money on your water utility bill.
Some of the biggest steps you can take in water conservation are in your home. Here are ten simple strategies you can use to conserve water in New Mexico or anywhere:
1. Replace grass and other high water-use landscaping with xeriscape landscaping. Xeriscape landscaping uses water-efficient, native plants. Just because you select xeriscape doesn’t mean your yard has to be barren and covered in gravel. There are thousands of native New Mexico plants you can select from to create a lush, green desert landscape in your yard.
2. Install a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation systems use significantly less water than traditional sprinklers or watering with a hose, while still delivering the water your plants need. The EPA estimates water-efficient irrigation systems could save more than 11 billion gallons of water per year across the U.S. There are also irrigation systems with rain shutoff devices and moisture sensors. These ensure that your landscaping gets the proper moisture and prevent wasted water on rainy days.
3. Select faucets with water-saving aerators for your sinks. Installing water-saving faucets in your new home can save more than 14,700 gallons of water per year. With the advances in design and technology you can save water without sacrificing style or water pressure.
4. Install a rainwater harvesting and collection system to water your landscaping and garden. Collections systems can be purchase or built affordable and can dramatically reduce your overall water usage. When building a home at Picacho Mountain, one of our residents installed a collection system. He has reported to us that he couldn’t be happier with the system. It provides water for all of his landscaping needs.
5. Replace older evaporative coolers with high-efficiency refrigerated air-conditioning.
6. Replace your old washing machine with a front-loading washing machine. Front loading washers use less than 27 gallons per load. That means you can save 35% or more water compared to top-loading washers.
7. Choose water-conserving shower heads and save over 7,700 gallons of water each year.
8. If your toilet is from 1992 or prior, replace it with a new high-efficiency toilet (HET). This is an improved version of the old brick in the toilet tank trick. High-efficiency toilets can use 60 to 80 percent less water than conventional toilets.
9. Replace your conventional hot water heater with a tankless, or demand water heater, and circulating pumps. Tankless water heaters eliminate the need to let the water run while waiting for hot water to travel from your tank to your sink or shower. In addition to saving water, tankless water heaters can save energy anywhere from 8% all the way up to 50% over a conventional water heater.
10. Fix the fixtures you have. The EPA estimates that leaky faucets can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water each year. To check for leaks, read your water meter before and after a two-hour period during which you don’t use the water. If the meter read changes, then you have a leak.
You may not be able to employ all ten of these strategies in your home today, but using even one or two is a start toward water conservation and preserving our water supply for our children and grandchildren.
For more information on water conservation visit www.epa.gov/watersense.
There are many other Green Building techniques you can use to conserve water. What are you doing to conserve water? Please post your thoughts and tips.
Contact Picacho Mountain today at 575-523-2500 for more information on building your energy-efficient, green home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.