There are many wonderful things about living in Southern California, San Diego in particular. There’s the rich culture; diverse neighborhoods like Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Hillcrest, and North Park; and of course, the amazing sunny weather. But just as there can be a fire season, droughts and water usage can also be a huge issue in the region. Water can become quite costly for homeowners, which makes it even more important to conserve whenever possible.

There have been times when San Diego homeowners have seen their water bill increase from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Although the city offers the H20 San Diego program, for qualifying homeowners, there are other ways to help lower your water bill.

Here are some tips that can help San Diego homeowners conserve water and lower their water bill.

Check for Household Water Leaks

Check your water meter, and record the reading on the display. Next, make sure that no water is being used—this includes not running the dishwasher, washing machines, or sprinklers. Once you shut it all off, wait two hours and check the meter again. If the numbers haven’t changed, then you have no water leaks. But if they’ve moved, you have a leak. You can call the local water department to have a professional come correct the problem and run a “controversy test” to check if the water meter is malfunctioning. Some common leaks include faucets, toilets, flush handles, flapper valves, overflow tubes, or something underground that you can’t find or see. At which case, you’ll need to call your local plumber to get your issue resolved properly. 

Soak Your Dishes

A common practice that wastes water is leaving the water faucet running while washing dishes. Instead, it’s better to fill the basin with soapy water to let the dishes soak for a few minutes and then scrub them all at once. It’s also more eco-friendly to rinse all of the dishes together rather than cleaning each individual dish. You won’t have to scrub as hard, and it saves water. 

Soak Your Produce

Instead of rinsing each individual piece of produce you bought at the farmers market or store, get a bowl full of water and soak your produce. This way you can rub off any grit or dirt without wasting any running water. Soaking is much better than rinsing produce, and it simultaneously saves you from running water (and dollars) down the drain. 

Run Your Kitchen Appliances Only When Full

Too often do people wash only a few bowls and a handful of utensils, or two t-shirts and a pair of jeans, which is not only wasting water but also increasing your utility bill. Instead, make sure that dishwasher or washing machine has a full load before turning on the cycle. It’s an efficient way to use water and can definitely help lower your water bill. 

Save That Cold Water for Something Else

No one enjoys a cold shower, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste the water as you wait for it to warm up for your shower. Instead of letting that cold water go down the drain, grab a bucket to catch that cold water, which you can save and use later for something else like rinsing dishes, cleaning, watering plants, or for your garbage disposal.

“If hot water is used 10 times per day, 31 gallons of water is wasted running the faucets/shower to get the hot water,” according to Watts Premier H20 website.   

Invest in a Low Flush Toilet

How long have you had that old toilet? Before 1980, toilets used about five to seven gallons of water per flush. But in 1994, the federal government made all manufacturers design toilets to flush with less than 1.6 gallons of water. That’s a big change when it comes to water usage in toilets—imagine how many flushes you and your family use in a day. You may want to consider investing in a low flush toilet, which uses only 1.28 gallons per flush.