A few weeks ago, we posted a list of water-conservation tips for renters. The premise was simple: not everyone has the time, the resources, or the abilities to make major changes to their living situation to save water, but since every drop counts, there were little gestures that could go a big way.
This week, we’re taking the opposite stance. There are plenty of people in California who own their homes (or who have eco-friendly landlords) and can make permanent changes in their house. There are people with money to spare on home improvements and ample time and energy to dedicate to saving the drop. This blog post, then, is for them.
Our favorite water-saving technique for homes is greywater capture. Just imagine: every time you take a bath or shower, run the laundry, wash dishes, or rinse vegetables in the kitchen sink, instead of that still-relatively clean water rushing down the drain, you could instead divert it into your lawn or garden to bypass your sprinkler system. Not only is this possible, but there are many organizations right here in Los Angeles that will assist with the permitting, installation, and maintenance of your greywater system.
For your greywater system to be most effective, though, you need a lawn that’s greywater friendly. Different plants do better or worse with different amounts of water, and frankly, grass is just not going to cut it. So whether you’re looking for a greywater-tolerant landscape or a garden of low-water natives, consider terraforming your yard into something more California-friendly.
Believe it or not, a properly maintained swimming pool uses less water than a comparable square-footage of grass. We bring this up not to undermine our earlier point about drought-tolerant plants and greywater, but if you’ve already got a pool sitting in back and draining it isn’t an option, be sure to use a pool cover to prevent evaporation so you don’t need to refill as often. And frankly, at this time of year, draining it until the summer is probably the better option anyway.
Speaking of the changing seasons, Los Angeles’s rainy season lasts from November to February, meaning you've still got a few good weeks to go. Now is the time to install a rain barrel. Much like greywater systems, rain barrels allow you to keep your thirsty yard quenched without having to tap into drinking water. There are plenty of resources out there to help you get your hands on a low-cost rain barrel.
And finally, change out your fixtures at home for low-flow and low-energy appliances. The water savings from low-flow faucets are obvious, but remember that saving energy saves water in the long run, too, because you’re reducing the total amount of virtual water needed for the energy generating process. Putting on a sweater instead of turning on the heater or making sure your lights are off when you leave the room could add up to big savings down the line.
At the end of the day, water conservation is important for everyone, whether you’re a home-owner, a renter, or something else entirely. Everyone has a role to play, and by making your home just a little more water-friendly, you can shoulder a larger burden of keeping the earth blue for everyone.