Author Topic: Punching the water bill in the face  (Read 6916 times)

Beridian

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Punching the water bill in the face
« on: February 17, 2014, 07:11:04 PM »
My water bill has been nasty, averaging about $65 a month.  Here is my very bad-ass low tech solution to the problem:  I keep a 5 gallon bucket outside my shower.   My shower head is the type on a hose.   When I start the shower, rather than letting the water run down the drain while waiting for it to get hot,  I put the shower head in the bucket.  It usually takes a gallon or two to get hot.   I then use the contents of the bucket to flush the toilet (pour it into the tank immediately after flushing, you can also pour it right into the bowl but it doesn't work as well). 

I also started keeping another 5 gallon bucket inside the laundry tub under the washing machine discharge hose.  It fills with the washer discharge and overflows into the laundry tub when full.  I use this water to flush the toilets as well and plan to use it to water the lawn and garden in the summer.  In the spring I am going to rig some rain barrels. 

I was also horrified when I discovered that my on-furnace humidifier was pissing away about ten gallons a day (the discharge tube is also in the laundry tub, I figured this out by putting a bucket under it).  Needless to say I lowered the humidifier almost to the off setting.  If it gets too dry in the house I'll boil water on the stove.

I know it may sound ridiculous to many folks, but the other great thing about this method is that my biceps get a little extra work out (been sitting on my ass a lot this winter), and it is a constant reminder to me not to waste water.

PS- When I hatched this idea, I almost went to Home Depot to purchase their 5-gallon buckets, then I found two old ones scrounging through my garage....bad-assity taken up one notch.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 07:15:53 PM by Beridian »

EngineerMum

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2014, 08:12:56 PM »
Good on you for saving water. A few tips, when bucketing washing machine water, on the lawn is fine but don't use it on edible plants - it will have a low level of potentially dangerous bugs, so feeding your food with it is not advisable. Secondly, don't keep pouring your bucket in the same spot, water a different area each day to ensure the extra nutrients and other chemicals don't overload the soil in one spot. Finally, next time you buy washing powder, try to find one that is grey water friendly (that's the terminology used  here in Aus, may be different over there) which may need to be a "green" brand.

Secondly, nothing has helped reduce our water use like installing low water fittings. They are set and forget - once installed you never have to think about them again. We have a 9Lps showerhead - old fashioned ones could be around the 20 Lps mark. It cost about $20 from the hardware store with no shopping around, and took about 5 minutes to fit with no plumbing experience at all. Similar options exist for taps but I tend to think they are less useful taps are generally used to fill a container rather than for a fixed time. Beyond that, the best improvements involve replacement of appliances. We have a fantastic system here where all appliances are required by law to have a big sticker showing a star rating and actual consumption (for both water and electricity if relevant) and when we have to replace them I always put ongoing consumption high on the list of features to consider. Dual flush toilets are brilliant, but I understand far less common in the US than in Aus - here I don't know if you can even buy a single flush loo any more. If you don't have one - try putting a house brick in the cistern - it fills up some of the space and thus reduces water use. Most toilets use way more water than they need to.

Miss Growing Green

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2014, 08:42:05 AM »
Good ideas; that should help! Here are a few more things to consider:

1) Take one less shower per week.  If you take a ten minute shower, you're using between 25 and 50 gallons, so cut out one per week to save some $$ and some time.

2) If it's yellow let it mellow.  Don't flush #1 until you need to.  Old toilets can use as much as 10 gallons per flush.  If you're flushing 5-6 times a day, that really adds up.

Frugal Ninja

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2014, 09:01:30 PM »
Been working on cutting my water usage as well.  However, just realized I am now below my cities MINIMUM water usage limit...and will no longer see savings on my bill.  I am trying to justify continuing my rationing by thinking of the benefits to my Eco footprint.  However, living near one of the great lakes....water isn't seen as much of a limited resource. 

warfreak2

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2014, 03:51:59 AM »
I had a water meter installed yesterday. It seems like they were charging me the wrong unmetered-assumptive-rate before, though, so I will call and see if I can get that retroactively lowered.

Leisured

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 03:40:43 AM »
Ten minute shower, Miss Growing Green? I get clean in 60 seconds, after the water gets hot enough, or in some cases 90 seconds. Dont use the shower to get warm. I take two showers a day in warm weather, and one per day in cold. That is about the equivalent of a ten minute shower in four days.


warfreak2

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 04:17:47 AM »
Ten minute shower, Miss Growing Green? I get clean in 60 seconds, after the water gets hot enough, or in some cases 90 seconds.
That might be if you have much shorter hair. Ten minutes is still a bit long, but a shower takes me about five minutes. I could probably save a few pennies per week by cutting my hair off, but it's a fairly cheap indulgence.

umterp1999

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 06:28:42 AM »
I used to try to conserve water using the same methods (collecting with a bucket to flush toilets, water plants etc) and only flushing toilets after solids.  I soon discovered that the savings amounted to just a buck or two a cycle.  Our water bill here is nearly 60% taxes, so it hardly made a difference.  The wife hated having buckets in the showers and seeing pee in the toilets, so I figured it wasn't worth the little savings.

spoonman

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2014, 11:36:36 AM »
wow, this is badass alright.  Although our water consumption isn't a heck of a lot, I feel like I need to do at least a small part to help with the California drought.  I've been trying to reduce my shower time by at least 50%, that should knock down a great deal of our total water comsuption.

I have to admit that when my water bill is included in the rent, it's difficult to get motivated to do anything about it.

warfreak2

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2014, 11:51:15 AM »
OK, so my water meter was installed a little under a month ago, but the reading is currently... 00001. This month's water bill will be about 2.50, plus the standing charge. Suck on it, Severn Trent!

hybrid

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2014, 01:05:17 PM »
Ten minute shower, Miss Growing Green? I get clean in 60 seconds, after the water gets hot enough, or in some cases 90 seconds.
That might be if you have much shorter hair. Ten minutes is still a bit long, but a shower takes me about five minutes. I could probably save a few pennies per week by cutting my hair off, but it's a fairly cheap indulgence.

I take about a six minute shower at least once a day and often twice in our humid summers if I've been outside. The thing is, I only run the water for about 90 seconds. I can lather up while wet without the water running, I merely need to get wet and rinse.  It's not the water I'm trying to save either (water is usually plentiful and therefore very inexpensive in Virginia, our bill is about $70 for two months for three people and much of that is a base cost not determined by usage), it's the electricity being used to heat that water. That's where my savings come from. Even then we are only talking a few bucks a month, but I'll take what I can get.

I'm not big on skimping on hygiene to save money as others are in these forums. Everyone has a line they won't cross, that one is mine.

Zette

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2014, 02:04:37 PM »
Here's how to get some of the savings with less effort:

I just saw $25 kits in Home Depot to convert a regular American toilet into a dual-flush.

You can also buy a water recirculating pump -- attach it to the hot and cold lines under the sink in the bathroom farthest from the water heater, and it will pump water back to the heater whenever it gets cold, so no more long waits for the shower to warm up.  You can get them with a timer that you set to run during the time you are most likely to take a shower (or just flip it on manually just before you take a shower.)

fly

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2014, 02:15:39 PM »
Last year, I replaced our water heater with a hybrid one that uses very little energy.  Amazingly, thanks to government and store rebates, the thing was damn near free and will pay for itself by the end of this year.

I've also started adjusting myself to cold showers.  Not only does it take a total badass to enjoy a cold shower in the morning, but I'm saving money at the same time.  There are also some studies that show taking cold showers (or being cold) can stimulate your body to burn fat. 

I'm killing like six birds at once or something.  I'm terrible at math.

taekvideo

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2014, 07:01:27 PM »
Last year, I replaced our water heater with a hybrid one that uses very little energy.  Amazingly, thanks to government and store rebates, the thing was damn near free and will pay for itself by the end of this year.

I've also started adjusting myself to cold showers.  Not only does it take a total badass to enjoy a cold shower in the morning, but I'm saving money at the same time.  There are also some studies that show taking cold showers (or being cold) can stimulate your body to burn fat. 

I'm killing like six birds at once or something.  I'm terrible at math.


There are 10 types of people in the world... those that understand binary and those that don't.

kite

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 05:39:27 AM »
Love these ideas!

Our water bill hovers around 50 bucks per quarter,  most of that is the ready-to-serve charge.  So cutting our usage further wouldn't help the water bill. But, in the last few years,  our municipality changed the sewer bill from a flat fee to one based on actual water usage.   So glad I don't do things like water the lawn or fill a swimming pool! 

zataks

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2014, 12:11:02 AM »
Congratulations, Beridian, you have discovered greywater reuse!  It's a pretty fantastic thing and it's mind-blowing that it is not more prevalent (it's starting to get popularized but it takes time).

Southern Saver makes some good points about where you're dumping your washing machine greywater.  Cycle the dumping location around so that a given area does not become super-saturated with whatever nutrients/contaminants/soaps are in your water.  Use ecologically friendly laundry detergent too. 
Greywater as a built-in system is relatively new to me; I've known about it for a while but am only now pursuing certification as a greywater system installer.  In CA, greywater is not supposed to be dumped directly on plants and is not allowed to stand or pool (this stems from concerns related to bacteriological growth) and is typically distributed into mulch materials that will quickly soak it up. 

If you really want to get serious about this, you can also disconnect the traps from underneath your sinks and place buckets there, too!  Again, you need to be careful what you're putting down your drains if you're dumping this in your yard but, really, you should be careful what you put down your drain no matter where you intend the water to be used. 

Here's a link that can start you off in the right direction for finding more info on greywater.  It's mostly related to California areas but much of it is relevant wherever you are.
http://www.greywateraction.org/

bikebum

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Re: Punching the water bill in the face
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2014, 01:18:45 AM »
Bricks in the toilet tank! Toilets are the biggest user of indoor water.

Here's a post I started on water use: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/how-do-people-use-so-much-freakin'-water!/