# The Money Mustache Community

## Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Louis the Cat on October 10, 2014, 05:50:46 PM

Title: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: Louis the Cat on October 10, 2014, 05:50:46 PM
RabStache's question about their washing machine made me curious: what is a mustachian level of water usage? USGS lists an astonishing 80-100 gallons per person per day!!

http://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html

That works out to at least 9,600 gallons for a family of 4 for a month. (4 people using 80 gallons each for 30 days.)

Even when we were cloth diapering twins, we NEVER exceeded 6000 gallons per month. Our current usage is 3000-5000 gallons per month depending on the month (higher with guests and when we're watering veggies) so on the high end, that puts us at about 42 gallons per person per day, including water for 4 pets.

Things we do that limit water usage although we don't necessarily do them BECAUSE it lowers water usage:
I shower every other day (my hair looks and behaves better on the second day)
Twins bathe 2-3 times per week and together (their preference)
HE washing machine
2 of 3 toilets have duel flush (kids' bathroom doesn't because they can't seem to figure out the duel flush, both how and when)
NEVER water grass although do often let kiddos play in the sprinkler when it's hot so it gets watered as a side effect. (We live in the High Plains where water is scarce and I can't imagine wasting it so that I can have green grass.)

I'd be curious to see others' usage level in gallons per month, how many people in the household and the steps taken that limit water usage either on purpose or as a side effect.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: deborah on October 10, 2014, 06:28:38 PM
we use more water than we should, 2 people = 1700 gals/month averaged over the year.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: seattlecyclone on October 10, 2014, 06:40:28 PM
I added up our billed usage for the past year. My wife and I averaged 98 gallons/day total, so about half the USGS's typical estimate. That includes a two-month billing period in which our old water heater failed and flooded the basement. Our usage during that period was over twice what it normally is. Excluding that outlier, our average goes down to 75 gallons/day for two people. Now I'm curious how much less we would use if we replaced the old toilet that came with our house. It almost certainly isn't a high-efficiency model.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: dragoncar on October 10, 2014, 06:47:20 PM
Last month we were at 555 gallons/mo for two people.  I have detected a leak using the meter and shutoff, but have not determined it's extent.  Much of that may be landscaping irrigation.  Need to figure it all out since we just moved in and the irrigation is poorly organized ( three different zones water the tiny lawn)
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: gimp on October 10, 2014, 06:50:06 PM
You're allowed to drink one quart per day, and use on cup for hygiene. Any more is wasteful.  You are allowed to save water for a while to have a small bath once a week if you prefer, but you have to shit into a hole.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: Louis the Cat on October 10, 2014, 07:42:13 PM
I added up our billed usage for the past year. My wife and I averaged 98 gallons/day total, so about half the USGS's typical estimate. That includes a two-month billing period in which our old water heater failed and flooded the basement. Our usage during that period was over twice what it normally is. Excluding that outlier, our average goes down to 75 gallons/day for two people. Now I'm curious how much less we would use if we replaced the old toilet that came with our house. It almost certainly isn't a high-efficiency model.

You can actually get new guts that will do duel flush at Home Depot or similar. For ~\$25 each, we upgraded two existing toilets instead of replacing.
Title: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: RapmasterD on October 10, 2014, 08:27:44 PM
You're allowed to drink one quart per day, and use on cup for hygiene. Any more is wasteful.  You are allowed to save water for a while to have a small bath once a week if you prefer, but you have to shit into a hole.

+ 1 except for shitting in a hole. Instead, walk to your closest fast food restaurant (ours is a Jack in the Box, which is 0.8 miles from our house) and take a good and long steaming poo in THEIR latrine.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: Casserole55 on October 10, 2014, 10:52:47 PM
Here in New England our small town sends out a bill every quarter. We get up to 12,000 gallons for a flat fee of \$42. After that we pay extra. We are under 12,000 gallons every quarter, except during the summer quarter, when we sometimes water the garden. So we use about 4000 gallons per month.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: CCCA on October 10, 2014, 10:57:14 PM
We have a family of four but we only use around 60-90 gallons per day as a household.

Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: dragoncar on October 11, 2014, 02:00:24 AM
You're allowed to drink one quart per day, and use on cup for hygiene. Any more is wasteful.  You are allowed to save water for a while to have a small bath once a week if you prefer, but you have to shit into a hole.

+ 1 except for shitting in a hole. Instead, walk to your closest fast food restaurant (ours is a Jack in the Box, which is 0.8 miles from our house) and take a good and long steaming poo in THEIR latrine.

Disagree.  Place shit in a solar still and drink water.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on October 11, 2014, 04:29:29 AM
Last month we were at 555 gallons/mo for two people.  I have detected a leak using the meter and shutoff, but have not determined it's extent.  Much of that may be landscaping irrigation.  Need to figure it all out since we just moved in and the irrigation is poorly organized ( three different zones water the tiny lawn)

That works out to about 9 gallons/day/person.  Are you sure that's right?
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on October 11, 2014, 04:58:27 AM
Most of you are reporting usage somewhere in the 20 - 40 gal/person/day range, which seems pretty impressive to a newbie tightwad such as myself.

My 2.5 person family (son is away at college most of the fall/winter) is using somewhere in the 60-70 gal/person/day range, which is better than the USGS numbers, but still way too extravagant for my tastes.  Our toilets are old, but we practice selective flushing such that each person is flushing probably 4 times a day (3.5 gal/flush X 4 = 14 gal/day/person).  That right there is nearly half your typical usage.  We drink mostly tap water and coffee brewed with tap water, so that probably adds about a half gallon per person, maybe more in hot weather.  My son and I typically shower daily, but my wife has a fairly dry complexion and can get away with showering every 2-3 days.

I think our biggest problem is laundry.  My wife can't stand to see the laundry basket full, even if we still have plenty of clean clothes in the drawers and closets.  This results in the washer running many partial loads.  It has a water level control, but I still think it would be much more efficient to run only full loads.  Towels and sheets have to be laundered separately from other clothes because they get a different type and/or amount of fabric softener.  Once a week or so, the towels get pulled off the racks, washed, and then the same towels go back on the racks.  Even though we have a closet full of other towels.  When our son isn't home, this results in running the washer (and dryer) for two bath towels, two wash cloths, two hand towels, a dish towel, and a dish rag.  Which really drives me up the wall, but my wife has been very resistant to any constructive criticism.  She's been the chief launderer for 25 years, and I've been glad to let her do it, so she gets very defensive when I make the slightest suggestion that maybe we could economize on our laundry.

I'm also wondering how much dish washing uses.  We don't have a dishwasher, so everything gets washed by hand.  We don't really have the kitchen space (or tolerance for dirty dishes) to let a day's worth of dishes pile up and then wash them all at once.  So, we end up washing small amounts of dishes multiple times a day.  We do practice common sense conservation, such as not filling the entire sink and not leaving the water running the whole time we are washing.

So, I'm interested in hearing your conservation measures.  What are you doing to keep your usage well below the national average?
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: VirginiaBob on October 11, 2014, 05:35:36 AM
Way way too much water usage at our house.  Since we have newborn twins, the MIL is living with us to help out, and I swear, she just loves running water all the time.  You can pretty much sit silently in the house and listen and you can hear her during any waking hours using some sort of water source.  No matter how many times I explain to her techniques to conserve water, she doesn't listen - old and stubborn.  She is a crazy bat and actually waters the gardens even right after it rains. Our bill was \$168 last month - this is nuts - our water rates are super high too.  Our water bill includes \$26 trash removal, \$21 storm, variable water, sewer, treatment, \$11 fee (basically a tax), plus an actual 5.75% tax rate on everything - it is rape.  Before you even turn on the faucet, you pay (\$26+21+11)*1.0575 = \$61/mo, although this does include trash removal (although I only fill up the can once a month).   Fortunately, the MIL is moving out this coming week, so we should be back to around \$110/mo.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: teen persuasion on October 11, 2014, 06:48:57 PM
We just got our quarterly water bill, and it was for 11,000 units (I'm assuming that's gallons).  That was for June thru August, so we had five people at home then.  Summer is usually our biggest water season due to having kids and DH home from school all day (presumably lots more toilet flushes).
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: dragoncar on October 12, 2014, 01:35:03 PM
Last month we were at 555 gallons/mo for two people.  I have detected a leak using the meter and shutoff, but have not determined it's extent.  Much of that may be landscaping irrigation.  Need to figure it all out since we just moved in and the irrigation is poorly organized ( three different zones water the tiny lawn)

That works out to about 9 gallons/day/person.  Are you sure that's right?

No it was totally wrong.  555 gallons per DAY.  I'm still hoping it was a billing error since it was our first month but that's just wishful thinking

Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on October 12, 2014, 02:44:04 PM
Last month we were at 555 gallons/mo for two people.  I have detected a leak using the meter and shutoff, but have not determined it's extent.  Much of that may be landscaping irrigation.  Need to figure it all out since we just moved in and the irrigation is poorly organized ( three different zones water the tiny lawn)

That works out to about 9 gallons/day/person.  Are you sure that's right?

No it was totally wrong.  555 gallons per DAY.  I'm still hoping it was a billing error since it was our first month but that's just wishful thinking

Holy shit!  That sounds like one hell of a leak.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: Christof on October 12, 2014, 03:28:26 PM
When we lived in an appartment that had a water meter right in the bathroom, we were down to 10 gallons a day per person. In my best times I managed to shower and wash my hair with less than 3 gallons.

Fast forward ten years, and we have a single family home, a backyard, a small kid and I have my office at home. It's now 32 gallons per person and day, pretty much the average here, so we clearly can do a lot better. Additional water usage is mostly due to watering vegetable garden, more letting cold water run in the morning until it gets warm, more flushing the toilet when I'm working and more laundry due to the small kid.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: justajane on October 12, 2014, 04:01:05 PM
Even though we live in an area with an excess of water most of the year, I still am a pretty big water conservationist. Even then, our family of five uses about 88 gallons of water a day. It has gotten better since we built an addition with a new bathroom with a water efficient toilet. The older one upstairs uses TONS of water, and even though we are definitely a "let it mellow" kind of family, we still try to keep the use of that toilet to a minimum until we renovate that bathroom.

I also have a rain barrel and rarely water the lawn, although I do water my plants and new trees throughout the summer. We shower every other day and the kids bathe together 2-3 times a week.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: GardenFun on October 12, 2014, 04:15:28 PM

So, I'm interested in hearing your conservation measures.  What are you doing to keep your usage well below the national average?

Here's our list:
- Wear clothes more than once if they aren't dirty.  Especially with winter clothes, this can cut the number of laundry loads in half.
- Only wash full loads.
- Wash bed sheets every 2-3 weeks vs. weekly.
- When soaping up/washing hair during showering, turn off water.  We turn it off probably 3-4 times per shower.  Cut down water usage 60-70% per shower.
- Kids bathe 2-3 times a week vs. daily.
- Don't water lawn
- Only water garden when necessary - and water at night.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: sol on October 12, 2014, 06:36:44 PM
The USGS numbers usually account for people who are on city-supplied water AND people who are on well water.  Well owners typically use far more water, since they're not paying so much per gallon and thus have no incentive to conserve, but they also typically use septic systems that return much of that water back to the ground.

Around here about 65 gallons per person per day is normal (wasteful) indoor water use.  And for most suburban or rural lots, double that in the summer to account for lawn irrigation.

The units are tricky, so make sure you get them right before doing any comparisons.  My utility charges in units of CCF where one CCF equals 100 cubic feet of water or about 750 gallons.  My household's last 2-month billing cycle was 45 CCF for our family of five, which works out to 112 gallons per person per day.  That number includes lots and lots of outside watering, though three of our five people are children who don't bathe every day so that probably reduces our average.

Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: sol on October 12, 2014, 06:46:39 PM
We just got our quarterly water bill, and it was for 11,000 units (I'm assuming that's gallons).  That was for June thru August, so we had five people at home then.  Summer is usually our biggest water season due to having kids and DH home from school all day (presumably lots more toilet flushes).

Maybe more likely that's 11,000 CCF for a quarterly bill, not 11,000 gallons.  11k cubic feet is 82,285 gallons, which works out to 182 gallons per person per day.  That's a believable albeit high number for a family that is home a lot and waters their lawn three times per week.

If that 11,000 units is really gallons, then it might be believable if you live in an apartment with all high efficiency appliances and fixtures.  That would be 24 gallons per person per day or about 120 gallons total per day.   If you average one dishwasher load and one washer load and two 10 minute showers per day you'd already be over 100 gallons/day, which doesn't leave much for drinking or cooking or flushing or watering your yard/plants.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: LudicrousSpeed on October 12, 2014, 08:52:40 PM
My last monthly bill said 69.0 gallons so less than \$7. In an apt, so no garden/lawn & turning off the shower as I lather up.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: bacchi on October 12, 2014, 10:45:53 PM
25g/day/person during the fall/winter/spring. With summer watering, it rises to a yearly average of 60g/day/person.
Title: Re: What is a Mustachian level of water usage?
Post by: teen persuasion on October 13, 2014, 01:00:07 PM
We just got our quarterly water bill, and it was for 11,000 units (I'm assuming that's gallons).  That was for June thru August, so we had five people at home then.  Summer is usually our biggest water season due to having kids and DH home from school all day (presumably lots more toilet flushes).

Maybe more likely that's 11,000 CCF for a quarterly bill, not 11,000 gallons.  11k cubic feet is 82,285 gallons, which works out to 182 gallons per person per day.  That's a believable albeit high number for a family that is home a lot and waters their lawn three times per week.

If that 11,000 units is really gallons, then it might be believable if you live in an apartment with all high efficiency appliances and fixtures.  That would be 24 gallons per person per day or about 120 gallons total per day.   If you average one dishwasher load and one washer load and two 10 minute showers per day you'd already be over 100 gallons/day, which doesn't leave much for drinking or cooking or flushing or watering your yard/plants.

Thanks for the info - I've always been unsure about the "units".

We are in an old farmhouse, not an apartment, but we are not watering any gardens or yard, no pool.  Hand wash dishes once per day, average one laundry load per day.  Have replaced toilets with lower volume ones.

That 11,000 units is a big improvement over the last two quarterly bills.  First quarter bill was 46000 units!  We obviously had a leak, it was a toilet fill valve that wouldn't shut off completely.  Next quarter was 21,000; lag until we received the previous bill, and took time to get it working right.  We've never seen volumes that high, even when we had four rented apartments here.  Hmm, I can't really remember what our normal amount was from the rental days - now I'm curious.