Water conservation tips for a hot summer

Fix those leaks! Leaks allow water — and your money — to go down the drain. To help detect hidden leaks, turn off anything that uses water and see if your water meter is still moving. If it is, there could be a leak somewhere.

But beyond those hard-to-detect leaks, making smart choices about water can help conserve our limited resources. Here are some more tips:

n Install water-efficient devices such as high-efficiency toilets and high-efficiency clothes washers.

n Only run your washing machine or dishwasher with full loads.

n Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth and shaving.

n Take shorter showers. Taking a five-minute shower with a low-flow shower head can save 10 percent, or about 50 gallons, for a typical family of four. Make sure toilet flappers have proper seating; flappers that do not seat properly waste a lot of water.

n Water your lawn according to the mandated county schedule.

n Check sprinkler heads, valves and drip emitters once a month. Make sure heads are aimed correctly (no matter how much you water it, concrete will not grow).

n Water in the early morning. Many irrigation experts feel the best time to water is between midnight and 6 a.m. because evaporation is kept to a minimum.

n Apply a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce moisture loss and keep weeds down.

n Ask your local nursery for the types of plants that will save you water. These plants can be beautiful as well as practical.

n Can’t bear to lose the look of a green lawn? There are synthetics made from recycled materials that look surprisingly real and never need water.

n When planting, group plants together according to their water and sun needs.

n Use a broom to sweep off pavement. Using the hose to wash down sidewalks, driveways, and patios wastes a lot of water and money.

n Use a spray nozzle with a shut-off handle on your hose so water doesn’t flow continuously.