Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How low can we go? - Water conservation update

Last month, when I reported our October water usage, I mentioned we had just purchased aerators for our bathroom faucets. Well, now that we've had them installed for a full month, I'm happy to report that our November utility bill shows we are down 500 gallons! While there's certainly a difference in water pressure (unlike the low-flow shower head we installed where we can't tell a difference at all), how much water pressure do you need to brush your teeth? After a few weeks, I didn't really notice it at all.

Needless to say, we're very happy with those aerators (which cost us all of $13). It'll take some time to make up that savings on the water bill, as water right now is pretty cheap (the aerators made a $0.73 difference in this month's bill), but I feel GREAT about conserving all that water and the truth of the matter is water rates ARE going up in our neck of the woods.

Of course, we're still following the whole "if it's yellow..." rhyme and we've been saving all our shower water for the vegetable garden, but we're always on the lookout for ways to conserve especially considering that the next three months (December through February) is when the local utility company uses water measurements to determine our monthly sewer bill for the entire year. So, the lower the better!

Hopefully, as we continue to make small changes around the house, becoming more mindful of our water usage, we'll also continue to see the numbers go down. In the meantime, I'm delighted that our efforts are showing positive results. Just a few changes that are all simple, green, and very frugal.

P.S. To find out more information about the aerators or the shower-head, follow the links. I feel confident in recommending them both. We've been SUPER pleased. 


Mon @Global Homestead said...

I hadn't even heard of aerators.

This is probably the dumbest question ever, but how do they reduce the water usage? I mean, what is the difference between just not opening up the tap (faucet) as much?

I did a quick google and can't find a comprehensive explanation.

Congrats on dropping your amount by so much though, that's a significant difference.

Michelle said...

Good for you!

BTW: How do you save your shower water?

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

My question is the same as Michelle's - how DO you save the shower water? It would be great to be able to use that for watering my indoor garden. Right now, I usually use glasses of water that got left out and went "off".

Good for you guys continuing to reduce your water consumption. Every little bit helps, and if you save money (even if just some change) then wahoo too!

greeen sheeep said...

Wow! It's surprising something so simple could make such a big difference.

mon - aerators add air to the water stream to reduce the water a fixture puts out without reducing water pressure. So instead of having a trickle by not opening the tap as much, you can have it full on and still use less water. Of course, keeping the tap half open with an aerator would save even more.

michelle & jennifer - I think Heather's referring to using a bucket to catch the running water while waiting for the water to warm up. That's what we do anyway.

Heather @ SGF said...

mon - greeen sheeep is right. It's just like the shower head, the aerators control the flow of water from the faucet. So instead of say 2 gallons per minute flowing from the faucet, the aerator reduces it to 0.5 gallons per minute. Does that make sense? The best part is that it's a super cheap fix!

michelle and jennifer - yep, we use a bucket in the shower. You can either set it in the back of the shower if you have the room or we have a little notch on the shower head from which we hang the bucket while the water warms up. By the time the water is warm enough to get in, we have just about filled the bucket.

greeen sheeep - you were right on both counts! Thanks for explaining! There could be other things factoring into the 500 gallons (it's so hard to know for sure), but I think much of the savings can be attributed to the new aerators. We'll see what happens next month :)

livingmyrichlife said...

Wow! 500 gallons! That's amazing. I really ought to be doing more to save water. At the moment it's been simply to limit our usage and catch our laundry grey water for the garden. There are so many more things we could be doing.

Heather @ SGF said...

livingmyrichlife - how do you save the grey water from laundry? Bypass the normal drain? We've done a lot at our house to cut back on water and electricity, but it all done little by little. There are many things we'd still like to try as well, but I've found that little by little is the way to go (and avoid being completely overwhelmed). It's been great to watch our water usage go down month after month as we implement changes. Talk about positive reinforcement!

It also helps that my hubby has taken charge of the water and electricity changes around the house, whereas I concentration more on food, gardening, and recycling. We each do what we enjoy best.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard of aerators before so researched it on the net. They come in different sizes - as a very Not-DIY-er, how do you measure which size your taps need?

Or do I need to bring in a plumber?


Heather @ SGF said...

Anonymous - that's an excellent question. Here's what you do. Unscrew the current aerator from your faucet and take it into any hardware store. A salesman can either measure it for you, or show you a display where you can measure it yourself for an accurate reading. We measured ours at Home Depot. Hope this helps! Let me know if there's anything else I can do.