Vail Landscape Logic column: Three ways to fix your summer water bill
July 24, 2016
If you have a typical Colorado household, then you expect your water bill to go up in the summer. With much of Colorado still hovering around 90 degrees, the heat wave drives up water used for showers, washing clothes and keeping our plants alive.
Because July brings the biggest drain on our water resources and highest water bills for us, it is a good month to think seriously about ways to save water with our sprinkler systems.
Three components to consider
How water reaches your plants — whether it's the lawn or the petunias — is the most basic element of a sprinkler system. The efficiency of that delivery process will either save or waste water. Efficiencies lie in the sprinkler heads themselves, the small components called nozzles and the use of drip irrigation.
No. 1 — Address sprinkler heads that spray water too high or are misting, as they are wasting water and money. When water seeps out of the heads after the watering cycle stops, those heads are also wasting water. Newer technology has given us better sprinklers that control water pressure — and even the size of the water droplets — so the water lands where it needs to fall without misting and floating away in the breeze. Consider upgrading to newer sprinkler heads. The key term when you shop is "pressure regulating."
No. 2 — Upgrade to newer nozzles. These are the tiny plastic parts at the top of the sprinkler heads. Depending on the nozzles you have, you will either use or save a lot of water. By retrofitting existing heads with more efficient nozzles, you can cut water use by 50 percent or more. Prices vary, but for around $6 per nozzle, you can save a lot of water. New nozzles can pay for themselves in little time.
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No. 3 — Save water one drip at a time. With drip irrigation, water never floats away in the breeze or runs down the gutter. It goes right to the root zone of the plant where it is needed most, and that makes drip the most efficient way to water every plant in the yard — except the lawn. Converting less water-efficient spray heads to drip irrigation is a smart way to cut your water bill.
Remember the maintenance
Even with newer, better technology, sprinkler systems are still mostly made of mechanical parts. Sprinkler heads get out of adjustment, underground sprinkler lines can crack and leak, and electrical valves that direct water throughout the system can break. Periodically turn on the system to see how it is operating, and then make the adjustments and repairs to keep the system operating efficiently. You'll save water and money in the process.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.