I have to tell you that I was flabbergasted when I opened our first 2014 water bill. It was a lot more than we usually pay. Then, I looked at the gallons used – 12,000! A normal quarter for us is 7,000 or 8,000 gallons. I had to find out what was going on. Why did we have this spike in water usage? Our water company said that they would come out and reread the meter, which turned out to be very similar. More on our hypothesis of what caused this later…
But here’s the thing that made my concern do a 180-degree turn and I started to feel pretty good about our family’s H2O usage: The average family of 4 in our county uses 400 gallons of water a day. That would be 33,600 gallons a quarter!!
Just to be sure (’cause I’m all about double- and triple-checking), check my math –
400 gallons a day (7 days a week) = 2,800 gallons a week
2,800 gallons a week (4 weeks in a month) = 11,200 gallons a month
11,200 gallons a month (3 months in a quarter) = 33,600 gallons a quarter
That makes our 12,000 gallons for last quarter look tiny. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we don’t have plenty of room for improvement. We’ll get back down to our usual 7,000 gallons – and soon!
So, what do we think caused our tsunami of water usage? Well, we did host two separate visits from family over the holidays, which means we had extra bodies taking showers and flushing toilets (we don’t want to think about that, but it’s true!), and there were extra dishes to be washed. I think we ran the dishwasher at least every other day (it was full each time) when we had guests.
We received a really nice compliment from the customer service representative at the water company. She thought that we only had one person living at our address when she looked at how much water we usually use. When I told her of our saving strategies, she praised us.
Do you want to get compliments from your water utility? Or maybe, you’d like to conserve water because you know that lots of people on Earth don’t have access to clean water and there are too many droughts happening? Or maybe, you’d like to save money on your utility bill?
Here are our strategies for doing all of the above:
1. We fill a 1/2 gallon plastic milk jug with stones and place it in the toilet tank. This will displace the water in the tank and each time you flush (I know, this topic again!), you’ll save 1/2 gallon of water. The toilet will flush just fine. We’ve never had any problems.
2. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. We don’t always employ this one, but sometimes, we are able to coordinate bathroom usage.
3. During the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we use a water barrel. It sits under one of our downspouts and collects the water from the roof. This is definitely not drinking water. But it is great for watering indoor and outdoor plants, rinsing out the compost container, and flushing the toilets.
4. OK, flushing the toilets with rain barrel water? Yes! We save gallon milk jugs, turn off the water supply to the toilets, fill the jugs with rain barrel water and pour that water into the toilet tank. Once the tank is at its usual water level, flush away! And we didn’t pay one cent for that water. Some people would find it inconvenient to bring in the water from outside, but it’s not so bad. We really get into the spirit in the Fall. That’s when we’re trying to use up the water before the first freeze comes. Because our barrel is plastic, we empty it and put it in storage for the winter.
5. I wash clothes in cold (saves electricity) and in the smallest water level that I can. I don’t do extra rinses or extra long washes.
6. The dishwasher only gets run if it’s totally full. And I always run it on the light wash, water saving mode.
7. We take quick showers and may even skip a day if we aren’t going anywhere.
8. We turn off the water when we brush our teeth. Then back on again for a quick rinse of the toothbrush.
9. For washing our hands, we wet our hands, turn the water off, apply soap and lather for a bit, then turn the water back on to rinse.
10. We put fruit, veggie, and egg shell scraps in a compost bin instead of running them down the disposal.
Hope I’ve given you some ideas to incorporate into your daily routine for saving water.
How do you save water?