Friday, April 17, 2009

Answering your questions - Saving shower water

Ever since the water conservation post last November, I've been asked by a number of readers just how we save our shower water (and how do we keep it from getting soapy). Trust me, there's no soap involved and this is as easy as it gets! It's all about saving that water that runs down the drain while you're waiting for the water to heat up (I don't know about you, but I can't just hop in and turn that chilly water on...)

Here's how it works:
  1. Keep a bucket handy in the bathroom (we keep ours in the completely superfluous "garden" tub, but you can keep in under the sink, in the towel closet, wherever it's handy)
  2. Hang the bucket on the shower head (our low flow shower head has this little knob on it that makes it easy to hang, but do what you gotta do to keep it there) and turn the water on.
  3. Once the water has heated up to a bearable temperature (for us it's about 3/4 of the bucket), pull the bucket out of the shower and hop in!
It turns out that one shower will fill our watering can for an easy sprinkling in the garden. Sure, my backyard garden needs more than one or two showers' worth of reserve, but trust me, every little bit helps not only for the Earth, but our water bill as well.

Other ways you might save a little water here and there...
  1. Don't have a garden or yard? Save your shower water to flush your toilets.
  2. Do you can jams, soups, or veggies? Save the water from the pressure canner or boiling water bath for the garden, compost pile, or your next canning job.
  3. Aerators are a cheap and easy fix to wasted water down the bathroom sink (how much flow do you need to brush your teeth, anyway?)
  4. Don't mow as often. We let our grass grow extra long so that it stays healthier without the constant watering (that only drains our pocketbook). The neighbors probably aren't super crazy about how long we go between mowing, but hey, it only makes their lawns look better, right?
Saving water is good for our pocket books and the environment; and it's easy! But I'll bet there are plenty more ideas out there. How do you save water in your home?


ttammylynn said...

I've noticed that if you brush your teeth and shave at the sink before you shower, you can use up enough water to more or less get the water warm for a shower(and saves time in the shower).
Other water tips for the garden include mulching, saucers under pots, water saving soils and components and supplements such as seaweed, there is also saving rainwater...which would be great if we could actually get enough rain here, lol. I'm thinking about getting a pump to water my gardens with a pond on the back of our property, it wouldn't be such a scary proposition except that so many frogs and snakes(some poisonous)call it home. Oh well, maybe next year. Also, obviously, don't water plants during mid-day because the sun will take the water and also potentially bake/boil your plants.
About lawns, here in the country, you can plant wildflowers in your yard(such as bluebonnets)which will keep the grass level down somewhat and give you another reason to wait a while to mow(aesthetic beauty)...most don't require much water, either.

JAM said...

We have a very good drain plug on our tub, so what we do is plug the tub before we shower, then leave it in the tub to use for flushing. I have a plastic wastebasket that I keep on the side of the tub, and whenever I need to flush I scoop up a bucket and pour it down the toilet. Pretty much one shower per day works for our flushing needs, and yes, it's soapy a bit but it's just going into the toilet! It does make tub cleaning a bit more work, as water is sitting in there longer, but my water bill has gone down dramatically - we are all trained to go in that bathroom if there's still water in the tub, so I'm guessing it saves about 10 flushes per day. We also try to coordinate our showers so that we alternate days so as not to have excess in the tub some days, and an empty tub on others. It doesn't work perfectly, but it's not too bad.

Beany said...

After JAM mentioned it on another blog, I went and bought a bucket for the bathroom to catch shower water. We've been using that water to soak kitchen rags before using it to flush the toilet.

There is the usual mellow yellow thing.

I did the dishes old school style after my first canning experiment.

Anonymous said...

we use the shower bucket too. ours is a bit larger (the kind kitty litter comes in) and it works great for flushing the toilet. we've also put a smaller bucket under the bathroom sink and opened the pipe to catch the water for the veggie garden. in the kitchen, we wash the dishes in a bucket and and rinse another. during the warmer, drier months, that water then goes on the lawn or the fruit trees. this summer we'll put in a gray water system that makes use of the washing machine water and, after that, rain water collection.

Heather @ SGF said...

Tammy - Great tips! We're going to try to build a tank to reserve rain water outside. I have buckets sitting under one of the spouts, but now that the garden is so big, it only waters the garden for a day or two. But everything helps!

I like the "lawns" where my in-laws live in California. Mostly rocks and arid plants. No mowing - yeah!

JAM - What a cool idea. It's been eons since I've had a shower like that so it never even occurred to me. That's great!

Beany - what do you mean doing the dishes old school style?

Blondeoverboard - he he. It's the kitty litter buckets that I have outside collecting rain water. Great minds think alike (anything you can put water in...)

BeWaterWise Rep said...

Great tips to save water in the bathroom. It's one place where we use the most amount of water. Here are some more ways to save water in your home:
Hope this helps too!

Heather @ SGF said...

BeWaterWise - Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

sunflowerchilde said...

Thanks for the tips! And that picture is really cool.

I wish I had water-saving tips, but I really don't. My husband comes from a place in the Alps where they bottle water to sell it, and he's never experienced water shortages. Fountains run full-time in his town, and the streams are clean so you can drink from them. So to have him trained to at least not be wasteful is a huge step for me (he will now finally brush his teeth without the water running).

Heather @ SGF said...

sunflowerchilde - it's all about baby steps. Don't stress that it's not happening fast enough. Do what you can do and rejoice in your successes. It'll happen...

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