OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Utility Department officials have tips to help community members reduce their water bills.

Residents will be using more and more water as the heat rises. And with higher water usage comes higher water bills.

Utility officials suggest residents check their sprinkler system to help reduce cost.

A broken sprinkler head or line, as well as a poorly programmed schedule, can use a higher amount of water than needed to properly soak a lawn and keep it green, officials said.

“Many high water bill concerns occur during the summer when most outdoor watering occurs,” said Malarie Gotcher, the City’s Water Conservation Specialist. “Customers can lower their bills by following a few easy water conservation practices, especially outdoors.”

Homeowners often do not notice sprinkler issues since sprinklers typically activate during morning hours.

“Understanding how much water your grass needs, and periodically checking each sprinkler system zone to ensure it’s running efficiently, is key to reducing excess water use,” Gotcher said. “Hidden start times or long run times can also add to unnecessary overwatering.”

Here’s a detailed summary from city officials on how to save water:

Know how much water your lawn needs. Common lawn grasses such as bermudagrass only need about one inch of water per week during the hottest months of the year. Water deeply and infrequently to encourage a strong root system. To see how long it takes to water one inch, place a rain gauge on the lawn. Turn on the water and see how long it takes for 1/2 inch of water to collect in the can. Multiply that time by two, which is the time you will need to run that zone each week. Don’t forget to turn off the system if rain is in the forecast.

Know when to water. Oklahoma City implemented a permanent odd-even watering schedule in 2013. This means that customers whose house or business address number ends with an odd number may use sprinklers on odd-numbered calendar days. Customers with an even-numbered house or business address may use sprinklers on even-numbered days. Schedule your system to water only on calendar days that match your address.

Find and fix common sprinkler issues. Get some marker flags from your local hardware store, then run through each sprinkler system zone and visually look for common issues such as bubbling or excessive water runoff, broken or sunken heads, or misdirected heads. Mark the areas where problems occur and make necessary adjustments and repairs.

Don’t water during the daytime. Up to 50 percent of water used to irrigate during the daytime is lost to evaporation. To save water, irrigate in the early morning when it’s still dark and the air temperature is cooler.

Avoid run-off. Avoid water run-off by using the “cycle and soak” method. Instead of one long run, try cutting your runtimes in half with two start times to allow water to soak into the soil rather than running off the lawn.

Consider a “smart” irrigation controller. Many sprinkler controllers now offer high-tech options to cut down on water waste. This includes sensors that can automatically adjust watering schedules by monitoring soil moisture levels or local weather conditions. Many can be managed using smartphone apps.

Perform a pressure check. Most residential sprinkler systems operate efficiently at pressures around 30 to 45 psi (pounds per square inch). Heads with low pressure might not cover the area where water is needed. Heads with too-high pressure will cause the water to mist or fog, so the water is evaporated before it reaches the grass, leading to dry spots. To correct pressure issues, install pressure-regulated heads or call a local irrigation expert for other options.

Visit www.squeezeeverydrop.com for more water efficiency tips.