Sunday, August 28, 2011

All Dried Up? Ways to Survive the Texas Drought

Lone Star Chapter

We've all heard that Texas is in the grips of a severe drought and that people and wildlife are having a hard time as a result.

While we can't control the weather, there are things that we can do everyday in our homes and businesses to help conserve water and ensure there is enough for people and the environment during these dry times.

We have assembled some of our favorite tips below. Every drop of water saved is important and with no end in sight for this drought, it is necessary. It all comes down to using only what you need!

Top 10 Tips to Conserve Water:

  • Only run the dishwasher or washing machine with a full load. If it is time to replace either of these appliances, check in with your utility about rebates for water-conserving versions and purchase those instead.
  • Water your lawn on the right day. Are you odd or even? Most Texas cities restrict outdoor water use to one or two days a week during times of drought. Save water and avoid fines by learning and following your city's schedule.
  • Catch the condensation from your AC unit and use it in your yard. Depending on how your air conditioner is programmed, it can produce gallons of water per day. Catch that water in a bucket and put it on your garden, shrubs, and trees.
  • Turn the water off when you brush your teeth. This simple step can save up to eight gallons of water per day.
  • Fix leaky faucets. Leaky faucets can waste up to 7 gallons of water per day. To check for leaks at home, read your water meter and avoid using water for 2 hours. Read the meter again after this period.  If the amount is different you have a leak.
  • Fix running toilets. Running toilets can waste a lot of water.  Fix these leaks as soon as you find them. Check with the manufacturer of your toilet for the proper replacement "flapper" to ensure maximum efficiency.
  • Inspect your irrigation system. Have your system inspected by your water utility or a certified irrigator to make sure it is operating correctly, identify any problems, and help you set it to run more efficiently. Many cities offer free inspections.
  • Install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads. These water saving devices are cheap and easy to install. Many utilities give them away to their customers. Check with your utility and pick up a few extras to share with your neighbors!
  • Install a high efficiency toilet. Toilets account for about 25% of water used in the home. Depending on the age of your toilet, you can save up to 5 gallons per flush by replacing older models. Check with your city for possible rebates.
  • Make water conservation a whole-family activity. Challenge your family members to think of new ways to save water and to be part of the solution.

This list is by no means exhaustive; there are plenty more things that you can do to conserve water.  Find out what works for you and go for it!  Check out the links below for more ideas or sign up to receive up to date information about water issues in Texas by clicking here.

Jennifer Walker
Water Resources Specialist
Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club
Please help us spread the word and save even more water by sharing this information with your friends and neighbors. You can also share this message with your social networks, it is easy with these handy links:
Share this page on FacebookShare this page on TwitterShare this page with other services

Want to learn more about water conservation?

Water Saving Tips for our Yard or Garden:

Water IQ:  Know Your Water:

100 Ways to Conserve Water:

Want to learn more about the Drought?

State Drought Monitor:,S

Office of the State Climatologist: 

National Drought Mitigation Center (Drought Basics):

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Low Impact Woodland Home

A Low Impact Woodland Home

When it comes to Architecture, many rely upon traditional construction and design methods, but mother earth is eagerly awaiting a more environmentally friendly way of living, so when I discovered this amazing home, I had to share it.

For more information on this and similar homes, please visit the builder's website here:

From a time long ago, but more and more people are constructing such homes around the world these days.  Perhaps they have something positive to suggest to the rest of society - Protect mother Earth and build respectfully.  Here's the lead-in from the article:

The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

Some key points of the design and construction:
  • Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
  • Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
  • Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
  • Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
  • Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
  • Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof for low impact and ease
  • Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
  • Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
  • Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring...)
  • Woodburner for heating - renewable and locally plentiful
  • Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
  • Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
  • Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
  • Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
  • Water by gravity from nearby spring
  • Compost toilet
  • Roof water collects in pond for garden etc.

What are you doing to protect our environment for future generations?