Water & Drought

How can I save the water that runs while I’m waiting for hot water?

Q: How can I save the water that runs while I’m waiting for hot water? – Patty Baker, Sacramento

A: The answer is very low-tech. Get a bucket.

The Regional Water Authority recommends using a 5-gallon bucket to catch water while the shower flow warms. A typical shower uses 2 to 2.5 gallons per minute. If it takes the water two minutes to warm up, that’s four to five gallons. Since it’s straight from the tap, that water is purified and can be used anywhere in the home and garden (as long as you use a clean bucket).

Also have a bucket or two handy for the kitchen sink, another cold spot on many water circulation systems. The farther a faucet is from the water heater, the longer it takes the flow to travel to that tap. Due to the size of kitchen sinks and faucet configurations, you may need two smaller buckets instead of one 5-gallon tote.

Several local water agencies offer free buckets to residents who request a “Water Wise House Call.” Offered to residents at no charge, this service checks your home and garden for ways to save water as well as catch leaks, faulty sprinkler heads and other potential water wasters. A trained conservation expert tests your home’s faucets and showerheads for proper flow as well as toilets. The expert also tests your irrigation system and will show you how to set your timer for best efficiency.

In Sacramento, schedule a Water Wise House Call via the city utilities department by calling 311 or by sending an email request to 311@cityofsacramento.org (put “Water Wise House Call” in the subject line).

In other water districts, the service may be called “water use survey.” Go to the RWA’s BeWaterSmart.info website and click on Water Wise House Calls. Then, follow the links to your provider.