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

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