Friday, October 17, 2008

Going with the flow

Over the past years, as Dave and I have worked towards a more simple, green and frugal life, I've taken the lead on food and recycling issues, whereas Dave has been instrumental in water conservation and energy savings.

Over the course of the last year, he's put in a low flow shower head in our bathroom, fixed the toilets to flush less water, and most recently he installed aerators on each of our bathrooms sinks to bring the flow down from 2 gallons per minute to 1/2 gallon per minute! Sounds good to me and it was such a cheap fix! For three aerators, we only paid $13.75 (that includes shipping).

As far as overall water consumption, because of the changes Dave has been making, we were able to get our sewage bill down a whole level this past year (the water company averages our usage over three winter months and then charges the same amount for sewage all year based on which tier we fall into). And looking at last month's bill, our total water usage was 2,000 gallons. 2000 gallons! Looking at one year's worth of water usage, that's tied for our lowest! And now that we have those new aerators installed, I suppose we're about to find out just how low that number can go!

Way to go Dave!

So the 2,000 gallons seems low to me. How many gallons do you use a month?


Michelle said...

We don't know, since we have a well and septic system, not city water and sewer. Just the same, we have low flow shower heads and toilets, and I reuse the water we have laying around (in unfinished glasses, etc.) to water plants and such. I figure that even though it does not save me money, it still conserves water for the planet.

I have never saved the water from steaming the veggies (for broth), but thanks to you I am going to start!

Philip said...

Well, to start with, I don't use low-flow heads/etc (at least those I've used nearly double my shower-time trying to rinse my hair, and that's definitely non-trivial for those of you that know my hair :).

On those months where we get sufficient rain such that I don't need to turn the soaker hoses on to protect the foundation of the house, I generally have extremely low usage. A three-month period during the rains last spring resulted in an average of 1153 gals each month.

My all time low this spring was 980.

Granted I do have a fairly higher use during the more arid months.

Theresa said...

We get our 3300 gallon cistern filled every two months, on average, so that's about 1150 gallons per months I guess!

We have low flow everything, and I use greywater from the shower to flush the toilet about 1/3rd of the time (and also do the yellow/mellow thing). Oh, and I take navy showers about half the time as well, thanks to the toggle switch on my low flow shower head. And we have a low water use washing machine as well. Living on a cistern where you have to have water trucked in really makes you conscious of how much water you're using.

I'm sure you will notice a reduction with the faucet aerators!

Theresa said...

Whoa! Check that math - I should have said 1650 gallons :)

Dave said...

I keep coming back to thinking I have a very slow leak somewhere. Granted Heather is home now but it still doesn't explain all the usage. Unfortunately, little leaks are hard to find. *sigh*

Theresa said...

Yes, they are. Have you tried the food coloring in the toilet tank trick?

Glenda said...

I'm too embarrassed to post what our current usage is. We switched to a chlorine-filter showerhead during the summer, but it's not low-flow (we thought it was) and it's definitely upped our water usage a great deal. We've made good changes in other areas of water usage, so it's time to work on reducing usage in the bathroom.

Thanks for that link, Heather -- hubby likes the showerhead with the switch where you can reduce the water to a trickle while you lather up, so we'll likely buy one of those.

Once we get the water usage back down, like we had before summer, I'll gladly post our "before" and "after" amounts!

Heather @ SGF said...

michelle -we also reuse water from the shower and from canning (in the garden, the compost bin, etc). It's only a little water at a time, but it sure adds up day after day!

philip - you know, we thought it would be a big deal when we switched shower heads, but neither Dave nor I even noticed a pressure difference. It may have something to do with the quality of the head, I don't know. Your water usage is much lower than ours - of course, we have double the people, but we're also making a HUGE effort to conserve. I wonder where it's all going...

theresa - Yours is low too. How many people in your house? We do the navy showers, conserve our shower water for gardening, and follow mellow-yellow. I don't get it. I guess ours should be MUCH lower.

dave - maybe you're right and we have a leak somewhere. Would we have to have someone dig into the foundation for something like that?

theresa - we haven't tried that. Where all do we look for the colored water? The floor around the toilet is always dry so it's not leaking top-side.

glenda - we really like our showerhead (it's a Delta). Dave may remember where we got it. I don't think it was too expensive and we don't really notice any pressure differences. It gives a great shower. Let me know if you want to me to ask him about the model number.

Theresa said...

We are two adults in our house.

Apparently if you put food coloring in your toilet tank, and you later see colored water in the toilet bowl, it means you have a leak from the tank into the bowl and water is just slowly going down the drain as the water in the bowl drains out to keep itself at a constant level. Then it becomes a matter of changing/fixing the float/flapper mechanism, I believe....but I am no plumber!

Abbie said...

I wish I knew how much water we use! We have a well and septic tank, so I don't have any way of knowing, unless somehow my well pump keeps track...
We've had so much trouble with water this year... from the well pump breaking down twice (it's brand new and has since been replaced by the company) to the leak in our hot water tank (also new) shorting out our hot water heater so that our water was constantly getting heated and was HOT!!! I feel like there's been a ton of waste of money, fuel, water, and time this year, but it's our first year living her since we finished building, so I think it's finaly OK (knock on wood).
Anybody know how to calculate water usage with a well? Thanks!

Dave said...

theresa - I have not even started to look for the leak. I know about the food coloring trick, my dad showed it to me when I was little and I help (got in the way more like) fix the shared bath toilet. I have lots of places to check.

heather - I think the problem is either in the house fixture (sink, toilet, etc) or in the sprinkler system. I will probably turn off the water to the sprinkler system and check all the fixtures in the house one more time. Then we will see what the numbers our next month.

glenda - The shower head we have is the Delta 75152 Water Amplifying Adjustable Showerhead. It switches between 2.5 gallons per minute and 1.85 gallons per minute. We never switch it to 2.5 because the spray actually is too hard, kind of stings. Its probably due to the fact that our water pressure is on the high side.

timeus said...

18,200 gallons water
6,500 gallons sewer


timeus said...

By the way, Heather, times has confirmation from a coworker that the powersaver he emailed you about( was $550 installed and reduced energy consumption by about 10% each month.

That seems worth it.

Heather @ SGF said...

theresa - thanks for the description! We'll have to check that!

abbie - how does the well work? Does someone else do maintenance or do you have to take care of anything that goes wrong with it?

dave - thanks!

timeus - dude, that's a lot of water! Dave thinks you have a leak. I would look into it. Thanks for the tip on the powersaver You going to do it with your house or will you wait until you decided to buy?

Going Crunchy said...

Wow, got to look into that one! Shannon

Abbie said...

There really shouldnt have to be any maintenance done... that said, the company that drilled our well and installed the pump is the company that we called out. Both times our pump stopped working we were without water for a day until they could fix it. They pull up the pump and work on it, then all the dirt falls into the well hole and all the water is dirty until it runs through the system, so every time they worked on it I had to clean toilets, tub, shower, etc. This house is only a year old!

My dad has been building homes for 30 years and has never had well pump issues this early on, until my house. Figures.

Heather @ SGF said...

Shannon - if you don't mind, let me know what you come up with. I really thought ours was low until I started hearing from others. Dave is going to look into leak possibilities.

abbie - you hate to say it, but it's like everyone says..."they just don't make things like they used to." Hope things settle down for you soon. I know you must have a million other things you'd rather be thinking about.