1. Follow your local water use restrictions. The most important thing you can during times of drought is to follow your local water municipalities’ current water restrictions. You can even get ahead of the curve and begin to conserve before restrictions are needed.
2. Fix leaking faucets and toilets. An average of 8 percent of all home water use is wasted through leaks. Test for a leaking toilet by lifting the lid off the toilet tank and putting a few drops of food coloring into the bowl. Wait a few minutes, and then look in the bowl. If the food coloring has made its way there, you have a leak.
3. Refit your plumbing. Determine the water output of your plumbing, such as faucets and showers, and either replace fixtures with newer, low flow models or install water-saving devices.
4. Shorten your shower to 5 minutes. Cut back on your shower time and you will rack up big savings in water and energy. Also, install a water-saving showerhead that uses 2.5 gallons/minute.
5. Save water through energy conservation. Large amounts of water are required to generate electricity. When doing laundry, wash full loads only (but do not overload), wash and rinse in cold water, and clean the lint filter after each load to maximize drying efficiency. In the kitchen, use the dishwasher for full loads whenever possible and only soak or pre-wash dishes if food is cooked or burned on. If you must pre-wash, do so in a sink or basin.
6. Help your plants use less water. Cut back annuals and perennials during dry spells. They’ll bounce back when it rains again.
7. Collect water to keep your valuable plants alive. You’ll be surprised at how much drips from your air conditioner and at how much you catch in a rain barrel under your downspouts.
8. Prioritize plants. When water is scarce, give it to your valuable or irreplaceable trees and shrubs first.
Don’t worry about annuals and turf grasses that are easy to replace.
9. Don’t stress your plants. Don’t fertilize when you can’t water it in. And set your mower blade higher than normal to help keep your lawn alive during a drought.
10. Mulch. Cover the entire area from the trunk to the ends of the branches with pine straw, bark chips or shredded hardwood mulch. Use newspapers underneath to help the soil retain moisture.
Tips provided by the Drought Response Unified Command (DRUC).