Looking to use water more wisely? Here are six devices every house should have.

Rainbird rain sensor
Courtesy of Rainbird

It’s no secret: We’re experiencing a water crisis. A persistent three-year drought has been quietly, relentlessly shrinking our supply across the West. Luckily, there are many devices, small and large, that can make a difference when it comes to usage in the home.

We turned to local experts and conscientious homeowners for solutions and innovative design ideas. Beneath the deck of one San Francisco home, we found storage tanks that capture rainwater, which is then piped to drip irrigation. Alongside those is a state-of-the-art filtration system that recycles water captured from sinks, tubs, showers, and the washing machine—called gray water—and sends it through a separate set of pipes to flush toilets and water the lawn with what’s remaining.

“We moved in during a serious drought year in 2017,” says homeowner Jonathan Feldman, an architect and principal of Feldman Architecture. “Our neighbors were letting their lawns go brown to conserve water, and there we were surrounded by all of this green. We felt we had to explain, so we put up a little sign saying, “Recycled Water: Ask Me How.”

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Installing it involved a double set of plumbing pipes to channel the water in the appropriate direction, and a lengthy wrestling match with the city. Many explanations and inspections were required to prove that the home’s recycled water was safe and contained to the property, meaning that it wouldn’t be entering the municipal supply.

Because there isn’t as much money to be made in innovative water reuse and recycling systems, the business of making rainwater capture and gray water systems hasn’t flourished like the solar energy sector has. So the old systems, and the old habits, remain.

But if you’re ready to make a change, there are plenty of devices and tools that can be used to increase energy efficiency and material integrity, from leak detectors to elaborate systems for water collection, filtration, and reuse.

Here are just a few: