With heat indexes reaching 105 Friday and Saturday, Kane County’s Environmental and Water Resources Division offers common-sense advice that can save you money while protecting the county’s water resources.
The truth is, an average household can consume two to four times more water during the summer than what is used the rest of the year. And the rising temperatures expected this weekend often coincide with rising outdoor water use for lawn and landscape watering.
During the month of July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promotes “Using Water Wisely Outdoors” through its WaterSense program. As a WaterSense partner, Kane County wants to share these facts about overwatering in the summer and encourage all residents to follow some simple tips to reduce water usage outdoors.
Facts About Summertime Overwatering
- Homeowners use between 30 percent and 60 percent of their total water outdoors, depending on what region they live in.
- The average American family uses about 320 gallons of water per day. During the hotter months, homes can use about 1,000 gallons of water a day. Some use as much as 3,000 gallons per day, or the equivalent of leaving a garden hose running for nearly eight hours!
- An estimated 50 percent of the water we use outdoors goes to waste from evaporation, wind, or runoff due to overwatering.
Simple Tips for Saving Water Outdoors
Homes with automatic irrigation systems can use about 50 percent more water outdoors than those without them. Here are some tips for keeping water use under control:
- Timing is everything. Know how much water your landscape actually needs before you set your sprinkler. It’s best to water lawns and landscapes in the early morning and late evening because significant amounts of water can be lost due to evaporation during the heat of the day. Be sure to check on the specific watering restrictions for your municipality.
- Look for the label. If your irrigation system uses a clock timer, consider upgrading to a WaterSense labeled controller. WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers act like a thermostat for your lawn, using local weather data to determine when and how much to water, reducing waste and improving plant health. Learn more at www.epa.gov/watersense/products/controltech.html.
- Go with a pro. Contractors certified through a WaterSense labeled program can audit, install, or maintain home irrigation systems to ensure water isn’t wasted. Ask for credentials when hiring a pro.
- Tune up your system. Inspect irrigation systems and check for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Fix sprinkler heads that are broken or spraying on the sidewalk, street, or driveway.
- Play zone defense. When planting, assign areas of your landscape different hydrozones depending on sun/shade exposure, soil and plant types, and type of sprinklers, then adjust your irrigation system or watering schedule based on those zones’ specific needs. This helps you avoid overwatering some areas or underwatering others.
- Fall back. People with timed outdoor watering systems often forget to monitor the weather or set their irrigation controllers back in the fall, leading to more overwatering during the cooler months.
Even if your home doesn’t have an irrigation system, there are a number of simple steps you can take to promote a healthier lawn and garden with less water this summer:
- Step on it. Grass doesn’t always need water just because it’s hot out. Step on the lawn, and if the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water. An inexpensive soil moisture sensor can also show the amount of moisture at the plant’s roots and discourage overwatering.
- Leave it long. Raise your lawn mower blade. Longer grass of 2-4” promotes deeper root growth, resulting in a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation, and fewer weeds.
- Give your hose a break. Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off. And don’t forget to check for leaks at your spigot connection and tighten as necessary.
For more tips on reducing outdoor water use, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor.