Home Improvements to Save the Environment and Your Wallet – Part 2

By November 12, 2019Blog

Reducing Your Outdoor Water Use

 

Last week we discussed the best methods for heating your water, but what about reducing our water usage all together? Water is one of those resources we often take for granted. With 71% of earth being made up of water, it’s easy to assume we have tons of it. It’s a little more difficult to recognize that water is a finite resource, only 3% of water on earth is fresh-water, and only 0.5% is available for drinking. 

Aside from the demand of our growing population’s need for fresh-water, one of the top reasons to conserve water is to prepare for future droughts. With climate change in full-swing, we need to be prepared for anything. Reducing our water usage also reduces the energy required to process and deliver it to homes, businesses, farms, and communities. Reducing water goes a long way towards reducing pollution and fossil fuels. 

If you live in a detached home in Central Toronto there’s a good chance your property sits on a sizeable piece of land.  This means lots of opportunity to showcase a well-maintained lawn, flower beds, or even a garden in the backyard. 

Outdoor water use is a major contributor to our overall water usage, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s look at two ways to reduce your impact: 

First up, the humble rain barrel. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like, a barrel full of rain – specifically, a barrel to collect rainwater and keep it for a dryer day (or month). 

In 2017, only 16% of all households reported having a rain barrel or cistern. This number seems low considering how easy it is to reap the benefits. Simply place a barrel at the bottom of your gutters and watch the savings roll in, or rather, pour down. Use your bounty to water your lawn or garden. Just be sure to follow the regulations on rain-water harvesting during the winter months! 

Want a rain barrel? DIY with this tutorial, or, if you’d like something a little less unsightly, you can buy rain barrels in a faux-stone finish or terra cotta style from Home Depot. Pro Tip: If you’re planning to use your rain barrel to water your garden, try raising it a little. The added height will use gravity to give your hose a little extra pressure.

The other option is to simply reduce the amount of greenery you need to keep watered. The easiest (and most affordable) way to grow a more eco-friendly lawn is to swap your grass for native plants. Native plants are adapted to our local climate and soils, which means they are naturally drought-tolerant. They’re also resistant to disease, which means you’ll reduce your pesticide use and lawn bill. Not to mention the money (and fossil fuels) you’ll save by eliminating your regular lawn maintenance. 

If you’re really smart about it, you can use your landscaping to reduce your home’s energy use too. A strategically placed tree can go a long way towards blocking the sun’s rays that heat your home during the summer months. Using less air conditioning is never a bad thing!

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