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How to save water - and your wallet - during water restrictions

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I'm typing this as it is raining. Raining, but not pouring. Badly needed rain that has come too late and will probably not be enough to permeate the soil.

With many parts of Australia experiencing the worst drought in memory, many places are on water restrictions.

Beyond the inconvenience, the restrictions will mean that water use will become more expensive or unavailable.  And morally, it feels wrong to waste water when animals are thirsty and farmers are praying for water.

My husband spent years living on acreage, and I'm a frugalista. Between us, we came up with some tips to help preserve precious water.

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In the bathroom

If it's mellow, let it yellow. I always have visions of Dustin Hoffman on the loo in the movie Meet the Fockers when I hear this line.  While it may sound crass, this will indeed save big on water.

Plant a lemon tree. Parents of young boys will understand.

Lower the water setting on your toilet cistern. If this doesn't work, put a water bottle (filled with water) into the holding compartment to reduce the water used in each flush.

Install three-minute timers in your shower or record a favourite three-minute song and play that while showering.

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Install a 6, 9 or 12 l/min water disc flow restrictor before the existing showerhead. Ours cost a couple of dollars and saved over $1,000 a year - without changing the feel.

Shower with someone else. But make it a quickie.

Place a bucket in the shower to catch cold water before it has warmed up, and use it to flush the toilet, water house plants, or boil it to use for shaving or to wash the dishes.

Fill a cup of water and use that to brush your teeth.  This can save up to six litres a minute.

In the kitchen

Only run your dishwasher when full; a typical wash uses 14 litres.

Wash your vegetables by soaking them in a bowl of water rather than in running water.

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Pour leftover water onto pot plants or the garden.

Fix that leaking tap.  Yep, fix it sooner rather than later.

In the laundry

Do a full load of washing.

Rub stains with a bar of soap before washing, and use a shorter wash cycle , ideally a water saving setting.

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Capture the machine waste water into a wheelie bin. Pump or bucket the water out to water the lawn or trees.  (Note: many laundry detergents act as clay breakers and are good for some soils.)

Saving water can seem daunting. But there are many small ways that you can tweak your habits to amass a pool of savings.

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Serina Bird is a proud frugalista who has amassed a million dollars through frugal living. Serina's first book, The Joyful Frugalista, is out now. She blogs at The Joyful Frugalista.
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