by Christina Mountanos, Water Conservation Specialist
Sorting through all the conservation tips out there isn’t always easy. If you’re an apartment dweller like myself, you’ve likely noticed that many of the typical suggestions just aren’t relevant. With little to no landscaping and lacking the freedom to make upgrades to water-using fixtures and appliances, customers living in apartments (or even as part of a homeowners' association) may wonder what their most efficient options may be. The following list can help! Read on for some specially targeted tips on how to save.
1. Test your toilet for leaks. As you may have heard, most toilet leaks are silent and can waste up to 200 gallons per day! Fortunately, testing your toilet is quick and easy. Simply place a few drops of food coloring (or free MMWD dye tablets) in the tank and wait 20 minutes. If there’s blue in the bowl, you may have a leak.
2. Take shorter showers. Even with an efficient showerhead, shaving just a couple of minutes off of each shower still saves water. Bonus points for also turning off the water while you lather and shampoo!
3. Turn off the tap. Turn of the tap whenever possible. This includes when shaving, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and even lathering your hands!
4. Settle the dishwasher debate. Using your dishwasher is typically more efficient than washing dishes by hand (most dishwashers use only 5-7 gallons per load). Be sure to always wash full loads, scrape food into the trash instead of relying on the disposal (which requires water), and pre-soak dishes beforehand in a small basin rather than rinsing under a running tap.
5. Report any leaks to your building manager. Dripping fixtures here and there may not seem like a big deal but, according to the EPA, a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That's enough for more than 180 showers!
6. Push yourself to try new things. With much of California in crisis, now is the perfect opportunity to try things you haven’t done before. Use a small bucket to collect water from your shower as you’re waiting for it to heat up, then use it to water indoor plants or flush toilets.
7. Wash only full loads of laundry. It may not be convenient to lug a full basket to an inconvenient location, but the water savings can be well worth the sweat! Since older machines can use up to 30-40 gallons per load, you’ll want to make sure each load is as full as possible.
8. Don’t ignore community landscaping. Keep an eye out for leaks and excessive overspray. Sprinklers should be watering plants, not sidewalks or streets. Though many apartment residents don’t have personal landscapes, everyone can keep an eye on community areas.
9. Look for shut-off nozzles. While you’re keeping an eye on community landscaping, also ensure all hoses are equipped with a shut-off nozzle.
10. Schedule a free consultation with an MMWD water conservation specialist. Your apartment manager can also sign up for our free conservation service to help check for leaks and evaluate the efficiency of toilets, showerheads, and faucets. Have him or her give us a call at 415-945-1523.
Though these actions may seem small, keep in mind that in apartment complexes and HOAs you aren’t alone. Many small steps taken by each resident in your community multiplied together can equal big savings!