Sunday, July 11, 2010

Water Water Everywhere Not a Drop to Drink

The Problem

Our last post covered options for lighting our home with modern bulb technology.  This week we will cover ways to save money in regards to water.  In our community we are billed a sewer fee for all of the water that flows from the city main through your meter.  What if the water you used did not find its way back into the city sewer system?  A good example would be the water you use to water your lawn or garden or the water used for filling a swimming pool.  It does not matter!  You pay the sewage fees no matter where the water goes or what it was used for.

Our Solutions:

Clothing Care

It was only after our family size grew and we noticed a dramatic increase in our water bill did we begin to question ways to save.  One of our biggest water saving moves was when we purchased a new clothes washing machine.  Prior to this we used the standard top load washer that used gallons and gallons of water.  In late 2008 after conducting much research on washing machines we made our selection.  The model we selected was the Whirlpool Duet Sport.  This washer uses less water and energy to operate than the standard top loading model. When the machine was delivered and after it was set up we spent hours just watching it wash clothes.  I was amazed by how little water it uses.  All you have to do is select the type of load you are doing, fill the fluids and watch it go.  Its too bad they have not figured out how to make a washer be self loading.

  • Energy Star qualified
  • Large stainless steal drum
  • 7 cycles, including whitest whites, heavy duty, normal/casual, quick wash, delicate, drain/spin, rinse/spin
  •  It is ultra-efficient! Uses 60% less water and almost 70% less energy than the standard top loading washer
  • It has a delay mode that you can set for up to 6 hours in the future.  This feature is useful in communities that offer off peak water rates
  • Care control temperature management.  It senses the optimal temperature for each cycle of the wash.  This ensures that the water is at the right temperature for the detergent and maintains the water temperature at a level safe for the type of load you are doing
  • Automatically dispenses detergent, fabric softener, and bleach.  All you do is fill the appropriate section prior to starting the load
  • Ultra capacity.  If you have a large family that does lots of washing this is a feature you will love!
  • Clean Washer Cycle to keep the washer clean and sanitized
  • Uses less detergent!  We were amazed at how long one bottle of detergent lasts, it is unbelievable.
We have found that the washing machine is quiet and handles the largest loads without problem.  We have not had any problems with this washer and would recommend it to any of our friends or family!

Personal Hygiene:

Another way I found to save our family money was with a low flow shower faucet.  Some experts say that showering can account for up to 25-33% of a homes water use.  My wife was against the idea of restricting the flow of water to the shower because she loves to relax with a nice shower and really loves the rain type shower head.  I did some research and found that no matter what style we chose we would be getting a more efficient shower head than what we had.  The government regulated shower heads and all new devices must use no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 psi or no more than  2.2 gallons per minute at 60 psi.  Our old shower head was old.  I learned that any shower head manufactured prior to 1992 used at least 5.5 gallons per minute so any option we chose would realize a savings of at least 50%.

Types of low flow shower heads:
  • Laminar flow:  the shower head creates individual streams of water
  • Aerator shower heads:  mixes air with water to create a misty spray
  • High pressure shower heads:  use the venturi principal to increase the velocity of the water coming out of the shower head

As you can see there are many choices for energy saving shower heads.  You are sure to find the style and design you want at any price point.  Installing the new shower head is easy and takes only minutes to do.  By changing out your shower head you will also realize savings in energy used to heat the water.  You will be using less water and that translates into less energy to heat that water.  So yes honey, you can have your rain shower and take as long of a shower as you want, or at least until the hot water runs out!

The Topic Nobody Wants to Talk About, the Toilet

How old is your toilet?  Many of us may think that if it is not broken don't fix it.  This can be a costly mistake as the old toilet technology was a water hog!  Many European countries outlawed these outdated models and mandated reduced flow flush technology.  Our old toilet used 5 gallons of water per flush.  For a family with multiple kids each flush really adds up.  Americans use about 4.8 billion gallons of water every day just to flush.  I did research on what our options were and found there were many options available.

  • Dual Flush Toilets
  • Low flow Flush Toilets
  • Conversion Kits to change your toilet into a Dual Flush or Low Flush Toilet
We chose a low flush toilet made by Glaciar Bay.  This toilet looks like any other toilet but uses only 1.6 gallons per flush.

Check out this link for the many styles available:  Toilet Options


By making these simple changes we were able to cut our water bill from an average of $100 per month to less than $40 per month.   In the future I hope to be able to make changes to the way we heat our water to further reduce our utility costs.

How much water do you use in your household?  Check out this neat tool to calculate your usage:
Water Use Calculator

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    What's With The Name Kan-Green

    I have been asked what the name of my blog means. The first portion, Kan, stands for two things. The first being Kansas which is where I live. The second is that I believe that anyone can be green. It does not take much effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle. A good place to start is with your choice of bulb to light your home. The typical American home uses 25% of their home energy budget on lighting! Saving money could be as easy as switching your antiquated incandescent light bulbs to one of the newer energy efficient styles. We have many different options which I will outline below:

    Incandescent bulbs:

    1. Cheap
    2. Widely available
    3. Come in many different shapes, styles, and colors
    4. Produce a soft, soothing light in all directions
    5. They cool almost immediately when turned off

    1. Old technology from the late 1800's
    2. Rely on heating a filament to produce light
    3. Short life span, up to 1,500 hours
    4. Produce heat, not good in regards to attempting to keep your home cool
    5. Consume 2-3 times more energy than the newer alternatives

    Halogen Light Bulbs:

    1. Brighter
    2. Most closely imitate the light from the sun
    3. Smaller
    4. Longer life than incandescent up to 2,500 hours
    5. They recycle themselves

    1. Like incandescent bulbs they rely on heating of a filament to produce light
    2. Waste gas and electricity in heat energy released from the bulb
    3. Due to safety issues they should never be used in lamps or a children's room
    4. Should never be used near flammable objects

    Fluorescent Bulbs

    1. Available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
    2. More energy efficient than incandescent or halogen bulbs
    3. Last 15-20 times longer, up to 25,000 hours and use 40% less energy than incandescent or halogens
    4. The light is softer and warmer than traditional fluorescent bulbs

    1. Light is not as warm or natural as incandescent bulbs
    2. Lamps and fixtures tend to cost more as a ballast is required
    3. Life is shortened by frequent turning on and off
    4. Has been connected to the fading of paintings due to high uv output
    5. May not turn on in extremely cold temperatures
    6. Contain mercury and phosphur materials

    Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

    1. Saves approximately $30 in energy costs over its life span
    2. Pays for itself in 6 months
    3. Uses 75% less energy and lasts 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs
    4. Less expensive than other higher efficiency bulbs
    5. Versatile as they can be used anywhere an incandescent bulb is now used


    1. Sensitive to frequent turning on and off
    2. Not all CFL's can be used with dimmers or timers
    3. Can only be used outdoors if covered or shaded
    4. Contain mercury which is toxic to you and the environment

    Light Emitting Diodes (LED) Bulbs

    1. They do not get warm
    2. There is no filament
    3. Long life lasting 10 times longer than CFL bulbs
    4. Last up to 60,000 hours
    5. Cost of power for 60,000 hours - $12.00
    6. Durable. There is no filament to break thus they last far longer
    7. Mercury free

    1. Generally less bright than traditional bulbs
    2. Has a very direct field of light. Useful for task lighting, not so much for lighting a room
    3. High production cost leading to high cost to purchase

    Fact: If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

    Fact: A report by the International Energy Agency found that a global switch to energy efficient lighting would trim the worlds electricity bill by one-tenth. The carbon dioxide emissions cut would be more than those produced by the current use of solar and wind technologies combined!

    Fact: 19% of global energy use is for lighting.

    Fact: Replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL will keep half a ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb.

    Fact: If every household in the United States used energy efficient lighting we could shut down 90 average size power plants!

    Want to learn more? Check out these links:

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Huff and Puff All You Want, You Will Not Blow Down My Dream House!

    I like to think that I was green before green was cool. I have always asked myself why we work so hard to hand our hard earned money over to others? Americans on average work more hours than any other industrialized nation. We get less vacation, sick, and maternal/paternal time than any of the other nations. If you are like myself and are not independently wealthy, you may have become a slave to employment.

    In the past decade the price of all goods has risen at an average of 3.8% annually. Do you remember filling up your car for a twenty? How about those trash bags, diapers, and all of the other petroleum based products? My rate of pay and 401-k have taken a beating. Based on inflation I am earning less than I was prior to our economic downfall. Our government denied the fact that our country was sliding into the worse financial crisis we have ever faced. The very people who perpetuated the attacks on our soil are the ones that pushed us to the edge of the cliff and they are the very ones controlling the spigot to the oil we have been conditioned to think we need! We are enslaved by big oil and despite all of the rhetoric in Washington, I do not trust those who take money from the big oil/big industry lobbyist to look after my best interests. How long did it take our elected leader to admit that the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico was the worse ecological disaster to ever afflict us? Take a look back a few years when ethanol was the big rage. When I first moved to Kansas all you would see for miles around was wheat. Well the corn producers lobbied successfully for subsidies for ethanol plants and now what do we have? Miles and miles of corn. Not to eat mind you but to turn into fuel. Never mind the fact that it is more energy intensive to turn corn, a food crop, into fuel. How about the bio-diesel plans? More lobbying and subsidies for bio-diesel plants and we turn another food crop, soy beans, into fuel. Guess what happened to a local co-operative bio-diesel production facility when the subsidies were not continued? They were unable to pay the farmers for their product.

    How much do you pay to heat your house in the winter? My wife and I purchased a house built around the turn of the century. Our first few years here were miserable. In the winter we could not keep it warm and in the summer we could not keep it cool. We had natural gas bills over $700 per month! Don't even ask how much the electric bill was to cool it.

    Despite our best efforts at installing energy efficient windows, house wrap, new siding, and insulation we still do not have a home that works for us to keep our hard earned money in our pockets. It is time for our personal Declaration of War against outdated home design, co-dependence on foreign oil, waste and wanton destruction of our country, and use a common sense approach to using nature to our advantage to heat, cool, and light our home. We do not have a choice, our children's futures are at stake.

    When will you Declare Your Personal War and Start Investing in Your Families Future?