By Amy Levin-Epstein
Watering the lawn, running in the sprinkler, lazy days by the pool -- each of these summer activities proves that water is a central part of warm-weather fun. So how do you cut back on water use -- without cutting back on the fun?
"In the U.S., the average person uses between 100 to 175 gallons of water daily," says Caroline Howell, founder of GreenBeanie, a green home and lifestyle consultant. "To put this in perspective, the average person in Africa uses a mere 5 gallons a day." Clearly, people aren't doing all they can to conserve water, a limited resource that -- if used improperly -- can result in sky-high summer bills.
Fortunately, hope is not lost! Howell has many easy tips to conserve water -- and save some cash -- this summer.
Wake up and Water
If you douse your lawn and garden under the midafternoon sun, a good chunk of that precious liquid will evaporate before it reaches root level. "Watering the lawn and garden should be done in the early morning hours before the sun comes up," says Howell.
Sprinkle Your Lawn Smartly
Inefficiency equals major waste, so look for products that fix leaks and help water get to your parched plants and lawn. A noodle sprinkler can help improve your aim and keep your garden truly green. And if you have an automatic sprinkler -- which is already eco-friendly! -- make sure to override the system and shut it off whenever rain is on the way.
Conserve During Playtime
Kids are going to want to run through the sprinkler, so look for a low-flow option that reduces the amount of water used. And if they're turning into prunes trying to stay cool with the sprinkler, give them water pistols. They will not only get some exercise while running around, but also use much less water.
Reuse Rain and Shower Water
"You can capture rainwater with barrels connected to your gutters, and then use this for watering your lawn," says Howell. It's not as hard as you may think -- there are many preconfigured kits available online, and you can also build your own system.
Rain isn't the only water you can collect and reuse. "I have a bucket in the shower that captures a gallon of water while it's getting hot," says Howell. "I use this water on the plants on my patio."
Protect Your Pool From Evaporation
"Put a cover on your pool to stop evaporation, which saves significant water in warmer months," says Howell. There are even solar covers that will heat the pool naturally, so you'll save water and energy!
Lead by Example
Kids learn from watching you, so show them easy, everyday ways to save water. Turn off faucets while brushing your teeth and shut down the hose while soaping up the car. They'll follow your lead and you'll see some big savings!
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who's been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and Details.com and in newspapers like the New York Post and the Boston Globe. You can read more of her writing at AmyLevinEpstein.com.
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