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Water Conservation

A few months ago someone asked me whether it was more economic to wash dishes by hand or to use the dishwasher.  The best answer I can come up with is…it depends on your family and how many dishes you have and what kind of dishwasher you use.

A typical dishwasher uses between 25 – 50 gallons of water for each load.  For my family I the dishwasher works best because with all of us in the kitchen at different times during the day if I hand washed every time I had dirty dishes I’d be standing there all day.  We have a fairly new dishwasher with options that save us water and electricity and we never run it if it isn’t full.  We also do not fill the detergent cups all the way to the top.

For a small family that uses only a few dishes it’s better to hand wash because you don’t really want dirty dishes sitting in your dishwasher waiting to fill a load.

A typical household sink uses 5-6 gallons per sinkful.  If you use this method make sure you rinse your dishes all together and don’t leave the water running while you are washing.

I live in San Antonio and we are currently on volunteer water conservation. Last year we were restricted as to when we could water our lawns and wash our cars.  I have listened to a missionary talk about what the people in his small village in Africa had to do to get water.  The literally walked several miles and used every drop.  They would start with using it to cook food and would finish with bathing or flushing an outside toilet.  Not a drop was ever wasted.  I think about them a lot when I’m standing outside on my one acre of land with water flowing out of a hose.  I no longer take that clear stuff for granted.

Below are a few tips for conservation.

1. Don’t let it run while brushing your teeth or shaving.  Use a glass of water to rinse your mouth or rinse off your razor.
2. A shower uses only 7 gallons of water.  A bathtub can use up to 70 depending on the size of the tub.  You can take it a step further and install a low flow shower head.
3. Do not use your toilet as a trash can.  A regular toilet uses 5-7 gallons per flush. If you install a low flow toilet your family can save up to 55,500 gallons annually.
4. Insulate your hot water heater.
5. Don’t use your dishwasher or washing machine unless they are full.

1. Only water your landscape before 10:00 AM
2. Use 4" of mulch around your plants.
3. Check your sprinkler system weekly.
4. Keep the blade on your lawn mower sharpened.  If you mow with a dull blade you damage your grass which calls for more water.
5. Use only native plants when landscaping.  The plants that are grown in your area typically use less water.


Removing Water Deposits

Q. I’m looking for advice on removing soft-water deposits from faucets and fixtures.  Vinegar works great for hard water, but I recently moved to a home with a water softener, and found that vinegar does nothing for soft water deposits.  Thanks.  Deborah A.  Try a product called CLR — it is wonderful!  Anita O. A.  I just read about this last night in Good Housekeeping- Sept 2000 issue. It told about the difference in the type of faucet you have. For example- they recommended vinegar for silver faucets and baking soda for brass colored faucets. One tip was to make a mixture and soak a cotton ball in it and leave it on the faucet that way so it has time to work. Try that. Anita E