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Water Conservation Tips

for Fall & Winter

Now is a great time of year to work on non-outdoor water use conservation and projects. Below are some tips to look into during the fall and winter months before outdoor irrigation begins.

Stay tuned for additional spring and summer tips coming soon!


Perform an Indoor Water Assessment 

Silent water leaks and inefficient appliances can waste hundreds of gallons of water each month. Save money on your water bill by conducting your own water assessment every winter.

For great tips on managing your water use and to learn how to conduct a DIY indoor assessment, check out this Indoor Water Leak Check Guidebook from Aurora Water. Programs mentioned in the Guidebook are specific to Aurora Water customers only. 

Some cities and utilities may have a free assessment program. Reach out to your utility to see if they have such a program available.

Common indoor issues include:

  • Old or worn flappers often fail to create a tight seal in toilet tanks, causing them to leak. We recommend you replace flappers at least every eight years.
  • Older toilets models can use 1.6 gallons-per-flush or more. You can replace these with models that use only 0.8 and we offer $100 rebates for up to two high-efficiency toilets per household.
  • Water near the base or drips at pipe junctions can indicate a leaky heater. Check your water heater monthly for these common signs.
  • In the winter, older residences can have chilly pipes. Protect them by insulating your water heater and water pipes to save energy and cutting down on the amount of water that goes down the drain while waiting for hot water to flow.
  • If you have a faucet with no aerator, install 0.5 gallon-per-minute aerators on hand sinks and 2 gallons-per-minute aerators on kitchen sinks.
  • Instead of hand washing your dishes, which uses approximately two gallons per minute, run full loads in your dishwasher for just seven gallons per cycle.

Take advantage of your smart meter 

Many water utilities in Colorado have begun replacing standard meters, which read usage once per month, with smart meters, which read usage hourly. If your utility has replaced its standard meters with smart meters, you are likely able to sign up for an online portal that will provide you with use data. Additional benefits may include leak alerts, tracking and comparison tools, and more. 

Reach out to your utility to find out if you have a smart meter. 


Fall watering means infrequent watering 

Cooler temps mean you can reduce watering to twice per week in September and then to once per week in October if temperatures are warm enough. We recommend having your system blown out in early October before temperatures hit freezing in order to avoid damage. 

Fall tree wrapping 

Wrap newly planted tree trunks to reduce winter sunscald from Thanksgiving through Easter, then remove so you don’t inadvertently damage the tree. Continue to wrap young trees for the winter until they develop their mature bark. 

Use your fall leaves in several ways...

  1. Leave a thin layer of leaves on your grass and run over it with a lawn mower twice. The leaves will decompose slowly, adding important nutrients to the soil which will make your grass healthier.  
  2. Compost them in your bin. The best ratio for compost is 1/3 “green” ingredients and 2/3 “brown” ingredients. Dried leaves count as a “brown”, so you will end up using all of your leaves by the end of next year. 
  3. Dry leaves are an ideal mulch for your vegetable garden. If you’re growing a fall crop, spread your leaves carefully so as not to cover small seedlings. If you’re putting your garden to bed for the winter, cover with 6 inches of leaves; they’ll compress over the winter months. If you’re in a windy area, cover the leaves with a layer of cardboard. 

Winter watering keeps your trees and large shrubs healthy 

  • If temperatures are above 40 degrees and the soil isn’t frozen, water trees and large shrubs about once per month. A fun way to remember is to water on holidays. 
  • Run your hose on very low or fill a 5-gallon bucket with four holes drilled into the bottom for slow, even watering.  Fill one bucket per caliper inch (diameter) of the trunk. Water at the drip line of the tree. 
  • Use that snow! Shovel it on to your landscape, particularly near shrubs and around trees' drip lines. 
Protect soil over winter 
Cover garden beds with a fresh layer of mulch. Vegetable gardens should have easily broken-down mulches like leaves, straw, or grass clippings. 

Xeriscape Planning and Design 

Winter is a great time to plan for installing a xeriscape in the spring. After you determine your budget and installation timeline, create your design. A design is a must-do because it creates a cohesive landscape and helps to easily divide your installation into phases. 

Contact a landscape designer or a contractor who does design/build. Winter is a great time to reach out because it’s their slow season and you’ll likely secure a place on their summer install schedule. Feel free to request bids from multiple contractors. Choose a contractor who has experience with xeriscape and consider water conservation certifications, such as ALCC’s Sustainable Land Management, G3 Watershed Wise, Irrigation Association, and Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper.  

Learn the Seven Principles of Xeriscape.

Check to see if there are xeriscape design, rebates or resources available where you live from your water utility or municipality. Water Rebates, a non-affiliated website, has a partial list of available rebates; be sure to confirm all information with your provider.

Colorado WaterWise                                  

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Denver, CO 80250

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