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As warm weather makes it way across the nation, sprinklers come out of hibernation and return to their full time positions, pools fill up, and many a garden hose sees daylight for the first time in months.

But in an era where water shortages are a sad but true realty, many homeowners are now concerned with how to conserve water.

Here are 10 tips to help your family use water more responsibly.

1. Sprinkler Use. Homeowners want lush, green lawns. This is understandable when one considers that curb appeal can mean added value and better resale potential. To make your sprinklers as efficient as possible, try to use them during the coolest hours of the day, either during the morning or evenings. This helps to minimize evaporation due to heat. And adjust your sprinklers so that you aren't watering the sidewalk or driveway.

2. Rain Sensors. While you're at it, install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller. There is no need to water your lawn when nature is already handling the job for you.

3. Responsible Landscaping. Not every region of the country has the climate for lush, green yards. Consider following the lead of Southwestern homeowners, who opt to plant drought resistant plants, supplemented by rocks and stone.

4. Washing Dishes. Have one side of your sink filled with soapy water to wash dishes, and then fill the other side of your sink with clean water for rinsing. This keeps you from having a steady stream of water running as you rinse.

5. Washing Clothes. Energy Star rated appliances reportedly use 30 to 50 percent less water, not to mention giving you incredible energy savings. Consider replacing your old washer with a newer, more efficient one.

6. Water Level. This tip goes hand in hand with tip number five. Be sure that your load size matches the load setting. A large load setting utilizes more water, so adjust accordingly.

7. Cleaning the Drive. Consider using a broom instead of a hose or powerwasher to clean your driveways and sidewalks. Recent statistics say this small change can save 80 gallons of water every time.

8. Low-flush Toilets. Newer, efficient toilets use around 1.6 gallons a flush, as opposed to 3.5 with standard toilets. According to water conservationist George Whalen, these bathroom fixtures can save you up to $100 a year in utility costs.

9. Water-efficient Showerhead. Use one. They're a breeze to install. They can be very inexpensive and they can save you up to 750 gallons of water each month.

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10. Pools. Pools can have leaks that are hard to find. To be a true Sherlock Holmes, use a grease pencil to record the water level of your pool and then check in 24 hours to see if the water level has remained consistent.

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