I love good food, spending time with family and friends and real estate. However, one of the things I dislike most in this world is wasting money, literally flushing money down the toilet. One of the best ways to avoid throwing money away is to focus on water conservation. Not only is water conservation fiscally smart, but something each one of us should be aware of in Southern California.

When it comes to water conservation, there are many ways to go about it both in and outside the home. One method of water conservation outside is through desert landscaping. A common complaint from people about desert landscaping is the lack of green foliage; however, this does not have to be the case. A desert landscape does not need to solely have cacti, sand and remind you of Arizona. There are a plethora of plants that are low water that do not fall into the cacti family. Speaking with a landscape architect is the best way to learn about creative landscapes that use little water. Of course, one of the best ways to save water is inside your home.

Have you ever been in bed or on the sofa watching TV and heard your toilet run on and off for an hour or two? Did you walk in the bathroom and shake the lever to get the toilet to stop? Did it work? Sometimes the chain gets stuck on the flapper causing the toilet to run and all you need to do is shake the chain free to solve the problem. However, sometimes the flapper, a rubber piece that keeps water from draining into the toilet bowl, is worn out and needs to be replaced. A toilet flapper is an easy item to replace on most toilets and costs around $20. Letting your toilet run on and off will easily cost you a lot more than $20 over the course of a year.

Now, if you want to take toilet water conservation to the next level, you will want to replace the toilet outright. Many structures have older toilet models, which use between 5 and 7 gallons of water per flush. Newer models use 1.6 or less gallons per flush. One option is finding a newer toilet design that has two flush options. Less water for liquid waste, more water for solid waste. The cost of replacing a toilet is easily recaptured over time with the reduction in a water bill.

Since many of us encounter water mainly in the bathroom it is one of those areas where we can make a lot of headway with water conservation. A leaky sink dripping one drop of water per minute, waste 5 gallons a day or 2,082 gallons per year, multiply that by the cost of water and any other sinks that are leaking in your home and you can see how you are literally letting money go down the drain. Sometimes faucets need to be replaced, however, sometimes all that is needed is a 50-cent washer. Do not be scared of a leaky sink, you maybe able to solve the problem yourself without calling a plumber.

You may be wondering, “How else you can I conserve water at the sink?” That is a great question with an easy solution. Whenever you are lathering your hands or brushing your teeth, turn the water off. There is no need for you to keep water on if you are not using it, so turn it off and conserve a little bit of water each and every day. Now we will move to the shower, another area where water conservation can happen.

When I was a child, I remember my dad taking me to the local hardware store and telling me that we were going to change all the showerheads in the house to conserve water. This expedition seemed foolhardy to me, as my larger fear was losing water pressure and not having enough water to clean myself. Luckily, my fear was unfounded and the new showerheads actually performed better than the older ones. Little did I know at the time how much technology goes into showerheads. Of course, not all showerheads are equal and some do not allow enough water pressure to clean soap out of long, thick hair, but many are decent and some superior at providing pressure and conserving water. When searching for a showerhead, read reviews online. Some showerheads are specifically designed for low-pressure homes. A little bit of research, can save you a lot of money in the end.

Water conservation is not hard. Mainly it involves all of us being conscious of saving water. Just remember next time you are in the bathroom washing your hands or brushing your teeth, simply turning off the water is one way to conserve water. Remember, if we each do our part we can all conserve water.

Mike Heayn is a Commercial Loan Consultant, specializing in Multi-Family Lending. He can be emailed at maheayn@yahoo.com.