Here in Texas, water is precious. We never seem to get enough in the winter and spring to get us through the long, hot summers. For that reason, water conservation efforts have been ramped up in recent years. Here are some simple things you can do to reduce the amount of water your Texas home uses.First, and probably most obvious, look for anything around the house that’s leaking water. Faucets and toilets are the biggest offenders. A dripping faucet is not merely an annoyance, it’s costing you money. Many of today’s faucets are designed so that the homeowner can easily repair them on their own, using inexpensive parts found at the local hardware store or home improvement center. The folks at these places can often guide you through the process, and recommend the right parts to do the job. Look for the brand name on the product, take pictures of the faucet and bring them with you to make the job of identification easier.If you don’t hear a toilet running, that doesn’t mean that it’s not leaking water somewhere. A simple way to tell if your toilet’s leaking water between tank and bowl is to take some food coloring and pour it into the tank. If you see the color you’ve dropped into the tank appearing in the bowl, there’s a leak. Typical toilets had a rubber part called a flapper that controlled flow between tank and bowl. Newer units have more sophisticated components that allow for cleaner flushing while using less water. Again, a photo or two taken with your camera phone will help the folks at the store identify the parts you need.Replacing faucet aerators and toilets can go a long way in conserving water. Changing from the typical 2.2 gallon per minute aerator to one that uses 1.5 gpm can save 570 gallons of water in the bathroom alone, and still give you a stream powerful enough to wash your hands properly. If your Texas home was built in 1993 or before, you probably have a toilet that uses 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing that toilet with a modern one that uses only 1.28 gpf will cut your water usage for flushing by almost two-thirds. I’m not yet sold on those devices on the market that claim to flush your current toilet on less water. Many communities’ water departments offer assistance to residents when it comes to water conservation. From kits that help detect toilet leaks, to site visits to assess opportunities for savings, to supplying rain barrels to capture free water when the skies give it to us, there are many ways in which your local authority can help. Give them a call.Remember, if you have questions or ideas for future columns, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your input.