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9 ways to conserve water (and save some money, too)

Image of young woman watering a garden
Water restrictions are likely to hit again in B.C. this summer, and in some communities they're already in place. Hand watering gardens – or using a rain barrel to help supply water – are ways to preserve the resource when it's in shortest supply.

'Tis the season of sunshine and water restrictions in B.C.

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to waste... at least not at this time of the year, as summer settles in and the rain holds off for awhile.

Water restrictions in many areas have become a regular feature of B.C.'s summers. Restrictions were already in effect as early as mid-May, and they're back in areas from North Terrace to the Central Okanagan. Here are some ways to save water, including a few that can cut down on hot water use that can lead to a higher BC Hydro bill.

  1. Make those showers shorter. Even with a low-flow showerhead, showers add up to a lot of water use. Cutting back on your showers by a couple minutes will save water and cut down on your water heating costs.
  2. Fix that leaky tap. Leaks account for an estimated 13% of water use in the average home. A little intimidated by the thought of trying to fix a leaky tap? Learn the basics here.
  3. Wash laundry in cold water. It's easier on your clothes, and it works well with most detergents now on the market. It's another way to cut water heating costs and reduce your electricity bill.
  4. Keep a jug of water in the fridge. You waste water while you wait for that tap to run cold. Bonus tip: Fill plastic water bottles to three-quarters full and keep them in your freezer. Not only will your appliance work less hard with a fuller freezer, you'll have ice-to-go for that picnic, and after awhile, ice cold bottles of water to sip at the beach.
  5. Turn off the tap while brushing teeth or washing the dishes. And wash vegetables in a pan or tub rather than running water out of the tap as you go along.
  6. Be water smart in the garden. Water vegetable gardens slowly, in the morning, by hand, near the roots. Break up hardened dirt to allow water to soak in.
  7. Install low-flow toilets, as toilets account for almost a quarter of all household water usage. Consider not flushing during the night, adhering to the same 'If it's yellow, let it mellow... If it's brown, flush it down' mantra you apply at the cabin.
  8. Consider a rain barrel. If your world-class gardens require lots of water, lean on a rain barrel to supplement what you get out of the tap. Municipalities and cities including Coquitlam and Delta offer rain barrels for local residents, but you can get them at various retailers including The Home Depot.
  9. Check your tap temperature. For safety, water shouldn't be more than 49°C when it comes out of your tap. Adjust the temperature at the mixing valve that's en route to your fixtures if you can. But remember that electric storage-type heaters need to be set at 60°C, per the BC Plumbing Code, at the source.