What things do you do to use less water in your home and garden? What are your water bills like? Do you know how many gallons you use in a month?
I keep a close eye on how many gallons of water i use in a month.
I used 400 gallons in November, 500 in December and 600 in January. Either I am doing something more water intensive these days, or i have a leak. Need to consider this. I'd like to keep it down to 400 gallons and even less, over time, as I figure out how to conserve my water well.
One thing I do is resuse my dishwater/cooking water in my kitchen garden and on my trees.
All piped grey water from my sink and laundry goes back into the ground in my backyard to reenter the water table.
I went and got a water audit on my home from when i moved in. It was just a list of how much water i used/paid for each month. No charge for that.
You can really tell the months i had water leaks. It's amazing the difference in water used. At least that water went right back into the ground table though. So it wasn't a terrible thing.
Still saving the water from boiling food, washing dishes/hands/teeth, etc, and adding to the garden.
Good news. In March I used 400 gallons. That's a big relief, as that is my current goal usage. When dan leaves this month I will see how much I alone use - that will be cool. Maybe my goal will be 200 gallons.
I think the difference from the month before with 600 gallons might be from using the clothes washer.
When I do the dishes or have dan do it, it do it in a low, square tub, so i can toss the dishwater in my garden. They love it!
Since this is high gardening time now in my area, i am using up my winter-stored rainwater on getting the food trees and starts established. Once it rains this summer the barrels will fill right back up. So this is working out perfectly!
This week I worked on a new 'water feature' for my backyard. I already have my grey water hose set up from my studio, but now I did something to make it super easy to reuse this water in my garden. I am starting a new thread on that now.
Here is the grey water thread.
Used water definitions, FYI:
Pure Water - lovely fresh water that is wasted to flush toilets, provide showers, clean laundry and cars, and to water gardens. This is water we really should reserve for drinking, cooking and providing our pets.
Clear Water - water with no solids in it. Water we waste while waiting for showers or sink faucets to heat up, water used to boil pasta, water used to rinse clean veggies, etc. This form of water should be recaptured right in the sink or tub. Let this water flow into containers and use to: flush toilets, water houseplants, use in the garden, fill the first load of laundry (the soapy cycle) and for any kind of cleaning purposes.
Grey Water - Water used in all applications that are not involved with feces. Used sink water, used laundry water, used bath/shower water. This water can contain soap, skin flakes, dirt, food particles and other items that can be in small solid form or carried in suspension. This water should be returned to the soil into the form of a mulch basin, constructed wetland area, or to even use directly on shade trees, landscaping, fruit and nut trees, into the compost bin, or for garden uses that are applied only to non-edible root systems.
Black Water - this is used water from toilets, or used cleaning water from dirty diapers. Feces can absolutely be composted, but this task needs to be completely researched before embarking on to prevent biological contamination. This is really the only water that should ever go to the city or your septic tank for proper filtration and cleaning.
I am very excited! I got my water bill yesterday and it was only 200 gallons! And for half of that Dan was here. So i imagine next month it will be even less.
I was curious what part of my bill was actually for water I used, and what was the amount that was the basic service fee. This bill (April) was for $26.77.
So i called the water company. It turns out that the monthly base fee is $26.45. So I used only .32 on water myself!
I was told the fee for water usage is $3.35 per one thousand gallons, and that the price gets higher after a certain number of thousands. Not that that is an issue in my home!
I find it fascinating that i only used .32 worth of water this month. This coming month will be my first here alone without dan living here, so i am amused and wondering if may will cost me something like 12 cents. heh
I lived with the water off completely before dan moved in, and am thinking about doing that once more. Using a combination of rain water, grey/clear water, well water from a friend in large blue jugs, and paying .15 a gallon for reverse osmosis drinking water, my bill was negligible. I think during the monsoon season coming up (summer) it should not be a problem. That will refill the rain barrels that I am using on my garden right now.
My plan is not to shut off the water again until I can see just how low my bill will be using my normal conservation measures.
That is really low especially with a garden in AZ.
Thank you, Alice! I figure if I can do it here, most people should be able to do it elsewhere.
After all, running water is a brand new convenience when you consider how people have lived for thousands of years, and still do in developing countries.
Colorado has way too many rules. No using rainwater and no using greywater depending on your property situation. It doesn't seem right that Colorado owns the water that lands on your own roof.
Alice, no rainwater? I haven't heard of any regulations against using the free water that falls on your own darn roof. What's the story with that?
As for greywater, most city ordinances want to get in your grill about possible water and soil contamination. Most people just do a little bit of simple grey water diversion from a sink and/or washing machine, and let that run into a back yard area. On the down low. For apartments it's not really feasible, but for people in a house, diverting the laundry water is a piece of cake. Just let the outflow empty into some bushes or make a simple mulch basin.
The rainwater, jeez! That's insane? And how to do they monitor this? Are there fines? I really want to know their rationale!
When I lived in Kenya, I would let it rain for about 5 to 10 minutes to wash the dust off my roof, then I would set out as many containers as I could to catch the rain water. I would use the rainwater for bathing and washing my clothes. The water I used for cooking and drinking came from a borehole (well) located in the village.
That is so cool, Jeanne. I love hearing your African Village stories. That is all so naturally low water use.
How did you take showers? Did you hang up buckets, or take sponge baths?
I took splash baths. I would heat up some water to boiling and mix in cold water to the temp i liked. I would bring the big plastic basin outside to my "bathing room" and take my bath. I used a cup to rinse myself off and rinse the shampoo out of my hair.
Oh and I would let the soap go back into the basin and the last thing I would do is step into the basin and scrub my feet really well.
I suspect I probably used around 2 and no more than three gallons per bath. I would normally bathe every other day in Kenya. Of course, now I shower every day. And as you know Jill I'm a really fast shower taker.
Yeah, you are quick in the shower!
Splash baths. I like that idea. I think i will try that this summer in the bathtub in the trailer. It will probably be a nice way to cool down! And I love the idea of washing your feet at the end. I hate dirty feet.
I love hearing about how things worked for you in your African village.
I talked this week to a friendly employee in the water office. She told me that my 200 gallons last month was excellent and that most individuals use 1500 gallons a month!
My guess is most people use that in the shower/clothes washer/dishwasher/swamp cooler? Oh and toilets. Lawns and gardens.
Water is very expensive here, so my techniques are literally saving me hundreds of dollars a year.
My goal is 100 gallons for this month, but i don't exactly know how much water some things use - like my washing machine, for example. I do reuse that water in my garden.
I think i need to make a water volume measurement next time I do a load. Or maybe start researching the internet to see various water use averages for appliances.
Holy sh....! According to several sources on the internet, the average top loading machine uses 40 gallons per load! And around 55 for slightly larger machines! This link
gives a chart of various household activities and the gallons usually used. It's enlightening. And a little bit scary.
Oh man. This link
says that most people in the US use 200 gallons of water each DAY!
That is what I used last month and still think I can cut that in half. I feel like whoa.
I had a small load of dish towels to clean and decided to do that by hand. I am probably only using 3-5 gallons tops, and this water goes through my greywater hose into the garden at the end. So i feel better about this. It's hard to believe a machine uses 40 gallons. Yeeks.
So i rinsed my sink clean and stoppered it up. I put in the cloths and a tablespoon of laundry soap, and let cold water run into the sink. I filled it enough to cover the cloths. I also tossed in a few shirts and a dirty apron while i was at it.
I let them set, and then took a brand new dollar store plunger and plunged around the sink. Then let the water drain, rinsed over the clothes again, and filled the sink back up. I am letting them sit again right now and will plunge them again to get out the rest of the dirt and soap.
My last step will be another quick rinse under cold water, a quick wring, and then i will throw them up over my indoor line. The evapotranspiration will cool things off in here for free! And I will have used a very small percent of what my washer does in gallons.
I will see how clean everything ends up.
Brilliant idea to dry the clothes inside a cool the room off.
Thank you, pG! I did want to note for everyone that this will only work in drier climates. Adding moisture to the air won't cool anyone off in humid regions.
Unless they put the wet sheets/towels/clothes in the freezer and then hung them over a fan! Anything frozen will cool down the air, and any fan will disperse the coolness. Just a thought. Try a few times in different ways and see.
I ended up turning the water off last month. Since I don't have hot water here, and use a composting toilet, do i really need to spend $26 (base fee only) for city water?
As it is i buy my drinking water from a refill kiosk anyway. (15 cents a gallon)
I shower at the public recreation center or use my solar shower for quickies, since I have no hot water.
Between the kiosk for drinking water, the rain barrels for gardening and laundry, and filling up five gallon plastic jugs at an outside tap in town (for bathing, cooking, house cleaning and cat drinking water), I am more than fine.
That saves $312 a year from my base city services fee. After adding in actual water use, it would probably be a total savings of $450 a year.
I could certainly put that money to good use elsewhere. Probably for cat vet bills or car repairs, neither of which i have a fund for now.
All my rainwater tanks are totally topped up from just a few rainstorms!
I have no more room in the drums, so i either need to get another drum, or use up more of the water faster, or find other uses for the plentiful rainwater that these monsoon storms bring.
It's kind of fun to be in the mode of having more water than i can use. I am in the cool position of wanting to think up more uses for water, since it is totally free!
That is really nice that you can do that! Will there be a way you can store enough to carry you through the next seasonal dry spell?
Yes. I have been storing the rainwater for two years now, and I really do get plenty to last me through the year. I live in climate that has two wet seasons: the summer monsoons, and the winter storm season. So I am really lucky that way. I get two times a year to refill the drums. So far I've never been totally on empty, ever.
Today I experimented with using rainwater to run my clothes washing machine. I only experienced limited success. Will report on that soon!