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Experts offer tips to save water — and money — this summer

Published: Saturday, June 8 2013 9:00 a.m. MDT

The N.J. Division of Water says people will "use 30-50 percent less water with drip irrigation and micro-sprays compared to sprinklers."

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Water consumption goes up during the summer months — and so do the bills. Luckily, there are plenty of tips online on how to save water — and money — when the months get hot.

Charlie at the ThreeThriftyGuys blog says to use the "Speed Cycle" on your dishwasher, which uses less water. "Most 'Heavy Load' cycles run anywhere from 1 1/2 hours up to 3 1/2 hours. By pre-scrubbing your dishes and using the speed cycle, then you'll greatly reduce your water consumption and energy usage as well."

Try switching out a shower head as well, Charlie says: "Amazon has a few options of low-flow shower heads that range from $8-30 a piece."

Jakob Barry on the Mom it Forward blog says to try a faucet regulator. "Install a faucet regulator on your kitchen sink so water will never shoot out at full strength when initially turned on. If needed it could be adjusted for a steadier stream but in general will prevent a lot from flowing down the drain and being wasted."

Washington state's Department of Ecology says to look for the WaterSense label from the EPA. "These products are approximately 20 percent more efficient than their standard counterparts. When shopping for new fixtures, remodeling, or replacing that leaky toilet choose a WaterSense product."

New Jersey's Division of Water Supply and Geoscience says: "Some New Jersey residents use in excess of 200 gallons of water per day! But we can all reduce our water use by as much as 30 percent by taking a few simple steps, such as installing high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and using water more efficiently in our yards."

The N.J. Division of Water also says people will "use 30-50 percent less water with drip irrigation and micro-sprays compared to sprinklers."

It recommends that if you have an irrigation system, "get a system audit done by an irrigation specialist who is certified as a USEPA WaterSense Partner."

M. Diane McCormick wrote an article for PennLive.com about watering lawns. She spoke with Terry Maenza, director of communications for Pennsylvania American Water, who recommends watering early in the morning or after sunset because most of the water will soak into the ground at those times. "Watering mid-day makes about 30 percent of the water evaporate," McCormick writes. "Also, never water on windy days."

McCormick says: "Grass is resilient and doesn't need as much water as many believe. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission advises that only newly seeded lawns need water. Even if it goes brown during a drought, it's just dormant, not dead." Maenza says if you walk across the lawn and leave footprints that means it is time to water.

ISustainableEarth.com says to not overwater the lawn: "Your yard only needs about an inch of water per week to stay healthy, established gardens require a little less. Watering infrequently but deeply will inhibit a deep root growth, keeping your lawn viable for years to come. Overwatering has been linked to pesticide and fertilizers being introduced into streams and rivers so avoidance is the best practice all around."

Bayer Advanced (a brand that covers everything from aspirin to bug spray) recommends mowing the lawn at the right height. If you mow the lawn too short, "grass plants won't have enough foliage to sustain growth. The resulting lawn will be thin, weak and sparse, as well as have a poor root system. … Grass that's too tall is also tough to mow."

But if you mow the grass at the right height, "you'll create a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant lawn that's not easily infested by weeds."

"It's best to maintain grass at its tallest recommended height," Bayer says, "especially during drought conditions."

Different grasses require different heights. Information on the subject can be found at local university extension offices or sod and seed suppliers.

Popular Mechanics says, "For most Americans, a good rule of thumb is that a lawn needs 1 inch of water a week and perennial plants and shrubs will need from 1 inch to 2 inches a week. … Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering; it leads to root rot and soil compaction that robs the roots of air."

EnergyBiz says water and energy are connected: "Electricity, in particular, has a significant impact on our water supply. Fossil fuel generation, nuclear power and hydroelectricity all consume large amounts of freshwater. It is estimated that fossil fuel generation alone comprises about 39 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the U.S., which equals about 136 billion gallons of water per day. When you do the math, it turns out that every single kWh of electricity uses about 40 gallons of freshwater."

In other words, using less energy also conserves water.

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com, Twitter: @degroote, Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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