Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Saving winter water at home

Saving water may not be your top priority in winter, but colder months are still a great time to check your house outside and inside for leaks and ways to save water for your desert home.

“The first thing to check would be the automatic irrigation system to make sure it is set up for the changing season of the year,” said Rhonda Diaz, Las Cruces Utilities water conservation program coordinator. “Once you’ve set up an automatic irrigation system, it’s time to put it on maintenance mode instead of summer watering.”

Diaz stated that most of Las Cruces residents have grass, trees, and shrubs that are dormant during the winter months.

“But that doesn’t mean dead,” she said.

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She recommends that you water trees and shrubs thoroughly once a month, and briefly spraying the grass should be enough to keep down the hay that gets on your shoes and is tracked by your pets.

When you see your weed turning yellow, it’s time to double check the sounds around your home.

“People get used to the sound of water in their house, say, a toilet that automatically refills every hour, or the gentle dripping of a faucet in a back room,” said Diaz. She explained that toilets are the number one cause of water waste, especially when older toilets use 7 gallons per flush and new toilets called low-flush toilets use only 1.2 gallons per flush.

An easy way to check your toilet for leaks is to drip non-toxic dyes or food coloring into your toilet’s tank. If you see paint in the bowl, it’s time to fix the leak (usually the baffle plate) or consider upgrading. Diaz said water-saving faucets around the house should also be on the list.

“Sometimes people worry about the pressure loss when they upgrade their faucet aerators or shower heads to one that uses less water,” she said. “Technology has come a long way, however, and the newer shower heads use air to increase the feeling of pressure.”

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If you’re not sure which devices and furnishings are the most efficient upgrades, there is a program like EnergyStar for energy efficient devices. For water efficiency, check the WaterSense logo. WaterSense is an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) program that provides consumers with an easy way to identify water efficient products both indoors and outdoors.

LCU has another tool for monitoring water usage (along with gas) called UtilityHawk, which can be found on LCU’s UtilityHawk website: www.lcutilityhawk.com.

Customers can monitor regular and unusual water usage, an important way to identify a water leak, especially if it is undetectable or underground and seeps into the ground.

“The best time to watch usage is from midnight to 5am, when most are asleep,” said Diaz. UtilityHawk allows users to limit their water usage and if the water exceeds that limit the system will automatically send you an alert. To set these limits, click the My Thresholds button on the UtilityHawk site.

The LCU Customer Central can be reached Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 575-541-2111. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities. In an emergency, call Dispatch at 575-526-0500.

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