Need tips for water conservation

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Gina, Jun 16, 2004.

  1. Gina

    Gina Active Member

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    Hubby and I want to buy some land and start our homestead but while we wait, we have decided to put together things we need and start adjusting some of our habits. Like how we eat, electric and water conservation, etc. Speaking of water conservation, we got our new bill today and I took a look at it. It said we used 9,000 gallons in 28 days. That is over 320 gallons per day! I was stunned! Since this is our first bill in this house, and I knew we didn't use that much at our old place, I started looking at things. First, I figured out how to read my meter with the help of a neighbor. Then, with my kids' help, we did a reading and flushed one toilet. It used 1.5 gallons. Not bad. Then we flushed the second toilet and it used 3 gallons. Whoa!!!! In just 10 flushes, which isn't hard to do with a family of 5, that is 30 gallons of water. Next, I checked the showers. Shower 1 used 10 gallons in 5 minutes. Eeks, I've been getting after my oldest daughter about her taking 45 minute showers. She would stay in until the water got cold. I fussed about the electric it was using for the hot water but never really thought about the water it was using. That 45 minutes equals 90 gallons! Each day! Then I checked the shower in the main bathroom. It was pumping out a scarey 22 gallons per 5 minutes! That same 45 minute shower in the main bathroom now uses 198 gallons! <faints>

    <after a dose of smelling salts> I am going to check with my water company. I understand that in some cities, they give away low-flow fixtures to their customers. If our city doesn't, I'm going to Home Depot to make some purchases. 9,000 gallons is outrageous! If we use the low flow devices and I start putting a timer on my daughter's showers and we adjust the plunger on that 3g/per flush toilet, we should be able to cut that by 1/2 to 2/3. Now, if only I could convince my youngest daughter to quit changing outfits 5 times a day then I could seriously cut back on laundry too!

    If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm MORE than willing to hear/read them. :) I've been working on the energy efficient part by changing to CF lightbulbs and such. But this water thing really blew my mind.

    Gina
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    You will also get a shock when you determine the volume of water the washing machine consumes!
     

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Good work on getting the main items identified. I like your thinking on getting the family involved in preparation for a different life style. We waste so much water; we take it so much for granted.

    I bought some property in late December. Although I have a pump, I don't have electricity to run it. As a result, we bring water in while we're there. Hot water is coming from a campfire teapot. Our neighbor doesn't have a well, he brings in the water he needs. The restaurant/convenience store, 3 miles away, has carbonated well water, so all their water is trucked in.

    Once you eliminate your luxury usage, take it a step further.

    Imagine that you buy property that has no well. Create a firedrill to live for a period of time as though the faucets didn't work. You may not have plumbing where you decide to buy. What a shock for those little girls (ooops, young ladies)! Its funny how kids will whine and cry about it, but they will also brag to their buddies when its over.
     
  4. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Family effort ...period. Short showers. Don't flush every time. Energy efficient washer (ours is and uses much less water by design). Same with dishwasher if you need one of those. Rain water at least for the animals ... hook up gutters to a holding tank/cistern. Build gutters on the coops, barns etc. Water garden with water can instead of hose. Check plumbing fixtures especially toilet guts .. could leak and never know it.
     
  5. pumpkinlady

    pumpkinlady Well-Known Member

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    When brushing your teeth, wet the brush and turn off the water until it is time to rinse out your mouth and brush. This will save you some water.

    After taking a bath save the water in the tub and use this water to flush your toilet. Just bucket out as needed.
     
  6. moldy

    moldy Well-Known Member

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    We have a frontloading washer - makes a HUGE difference in the water usage. Even if you are able to get on water supplied by rural water districts, it is very expensive. Our bill, even if we don't use a drop, is $30. Our house is set up with a water switchboard thing where we can shut off hot or cold water to a specific faucet. Mean old me, if DD didnt' learn quick, I'd give her 5 minutes, then cut off hte hot water!
     
  7. Thats alot of water maybe you have a leak .Could be in your line where you dont know about it.is the meter moving when the water is not on?
     
  8. For the 3 gal toilet they sell a baffle that makes the tank smaller so you use less water,its basically is a small wall set up in the tank that lessens the amount of water that goes into the tank .
     
  9. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

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    "That 45 minutes equals 90 gallons! Each day! Then I checked the shower in the main bathroom. It was pumping out a scarey 22 gallons per 5 minutes! That same 45 minute shower in the main bathroom now uses 198 gallons! <faints>"

    Geez, 90 gal/day times 30 days equals 2,700 gal/month right there!!

    I have to say that your post made me LOL. Your daughter sounds like my son.
     
  10. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    You GO Mom!!!!!! shut off that hot water......haha


    Some toilets have room for a plastic jug of water to set in the tank.
     
  11. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    My first thought was 'did the water co read the meter between occupants?'

    We have been known to use 200gal a month on city water supply. I can make that last 6 wks on a cistern without half trying. That's 2 people.

    Laundry; everyone gets their own towel. Color coded. Towels get washed once a week. Better hang er up and let er dry between using. If you tried it on you better hang it back up. Everyone gets one load of laundry a week. Separate hampers.

    Baths. Turn the temp on the heater down so that when someone takes a bath they don't mix cold with it. They'll learn to take short showers. (I learned to take short ones using a public shower that took quarters.)

    If you can, use washing machine water on the grass. (Depends on codes and how your plumbing is set up.)

    I've been thru water rationing from a drought. And have spent several years where I had to haul water for a long distance. It's second nature now to save water.
     
  12. Montana Mom

    Montana Mom Well-Known Member

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    WOW!!! :eek: That IS a lot of water.

    I'd be interested to find out my water intake but the water is provided by the park so I don't know it. In any event, I make huge efforts to conserve water because Montana is always in drought conditions (and there is just no reason to waste!).

    We don't flush every time and when we do we use secondhand water per a poster here named country granny. (Thank you!)

    When I run a faucet for any reason I plug the stopper or put a pot in the sink to catch the water then scoop out the water later for plant watering, cleaning, canning, or toilet flushing depending on the condition of the water. If we take showers we plug the stopper and reuse that water in the same ways.

    If you can't adjust that commode, you can fit a couple of canning jars filled with water to take up some of the space.

    HTH, wow, I'm still shocked at 9K.
     
  13. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    wow that is a lot of water even for that many folks i think! my husband and I and two dogs and a 200 sq ft green house use 200 gal's per month. I know this because we have been hauling this water for the past four years (cant afford a well). We supplement this with rain water caught in 5 55 gal barrels during the rainy season (cant afford a cystern). We have a compost toilet, shower each day using a gravity system. Get hot water from the wood stove for shower, tote it upstairs to the tank and let it come back down and mix with the cold we pump from a lower floor tank to the upper floor tank. I think if I had a well I would be the queen of the mountain. But I still would not use much water , it is much too precious to waste! just rambling.....
     
  14. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

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    We don't have a well or electricity.....so mind you some of my tips will be hard to duplicate where you are now. However, they may give you some ideas for when you move onto your land.

    We use about 75-100 gallons per week, and I feel like we are splurging half the time. I know we could probably use 2/3 to 1/2 that amount if we had to. That waters a dog, 2 goats, 20 chickens, us and all our household needs, but not washing machine. We don't wash clothes here because I figure we'd need approximately 150-300 more gallons a week just to do that. At water containers that cost $1 a gallon, we do our laundry in town at my inlaws for now until we get a well.

    Anyway, your washing machine uses about 45 gallons per load. If you get a front loading washing machine, you will save 2/3 of that. If you can't afford one now, work on cutting down laundry. Washing machine is a big water hog and one that is hard to avoid unless you wash by hand or buy an energy eff. app. Reusing the rinse water for flushing toilets, cleaning decks, watering roses, etc. You can look into the book "Creating an Oasis" for ideas on reusing greywater for fruits trees and ornamentals.

    Always turn the water off....never let it just run. We wash our hands in a 1/2 gallon hand basin....change it 2x a day. We brush our teeth out of a cup. Pour about 1/4 cup water into the cup, wet the toothbrush with that....brush teeth...use the cup water to rinse mouth, and then use the rest to rinse toothbrush. We wash dishes with 2 wash basins....each is about 2 gallon capacity. I find that if the water is scalding hot, they get plenty clean. I sometimes have to change the rinse water if it gets too soapy or the wash water if it gets too dirty, but only if I have alot of dishes to wash. I scrape all the food off the dishes first. That makes the wash water last longer. You can also wipe them off with newspaper first and put the soiled paper on the compost pile. That works especially well for oil in skillets.

    Toilets...I use a compost toilet....no water required.

    We take sink baths. It only takes 1/2 gallon per person to wash. We wash our hair in the dishpan....about 1 gallon per person. We don't find we need to wash our hair everyday. That may sound gross, but your hair creates oils in relation to how often you wash it. The more often you wash, the faster your hair creates oils. We also use one towel each all week. Since we've been doing that, we've cut our laundry in half it seems. We used to wash 7-10 loads per week...now we have 4-5.

    I water my plants with anything that I think won't kill them. I buy biocompatible (not biodegradable) soaps so that I can better do that.
     
  15. Gina

    Gina Active Member

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    Location:
    Florida. For now
    My first thought was there had to be a major leak. So we read the meter, used no water for 30 minutes and read it again. It had not moved so there was no leak. Next I thought maybe the meter was reading wrong so we filled a 1 gallon jug with water. The meter moved exactly 1 gallon. So, it is our consumption rate. Today we get low flow shower heads and faucet attachments. Showers are limited to 10 minutes. 45 gallons per wash load? Jiminy Crickets! I have a super size machine for this family of 5 so that means at least an extra 5 gallons per load. Also, we do use the greywater from the washer to water ornamental plants in the yard. We don't have a dishwasher. Everything is done in basins in the sink because we only have 1 large sink.

    I really appreciate all these extra tips. Anything we can do to get used to it now will make a wonderful difference later. We plan to have a cistern for water usage because we will be moving to SW Missouri and they get quite a bit of rainfall per year. However, with a finite amount of water, I want to be certain we don't be wasteful. When we move, we won't be taking our current washer/dryer set with us. I'll get a frontloading washer and a smaller dryer. We won't be using it that often because we intend to hang our laundry on a line. Except in the winter of course.

    Today we'll convene a family meeting. Topic: Water conservation!

    Gina
     
  16. ajoys

    ajoys Well-Known Member

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    Your water usage is actually pretty normal for most families that aren't thinking about saving water.

    I think the average amount is 50-75 gallons per person per day.

    Besides going with low flow fixtures, taking quick showers and just being conservative (not letting water run with brushing teeth etc..) you can save a lot by recycling. Reuse washer or bath water for watering or flushing the toilet. I have also seen a setup where they plumb a small sink so that it drains into the toilet. After using the toilet you wash your hands and it drains into the toilet for the next flush etc.....
     
  17. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    I had foot surgery on June 7, and since that time, I have been forced to take old fashioned sponge baths in the sink. I worried about this before the surgery as I'm normally a close 2nd to your dd with the 45 min showers. But, alas, it has worked out fine. I feel clean and I don't stink. I wash my hair everyday in the bathroom sink also. I figure that maybe I use 2 or 3 gallons of water max. The Cetaphil soap I'm using is expensive and if I were to continue this practice would have to find something just as mild, but much cheaper.
     
  18. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Bricks or waterjugs in the toilet.

    Teach the kids to get wet in the shower, turn off water (actually make a showerhead that you push to shut off)soap up then turn on water to rinse(same idea as a hose with a spray head). I do the towel thing at my house-one towel/person/week. Use a dishpan to wash dishes in and another to rinse and put water on gardens/fruit trees or flush the potty. I used to use my kiddie pool water on the garden too. Most people can wear there clothes twice or more for chore clothes.

    A cup of water for teeth brushing. Laundry water can be redircted and recycled as well especially the final rinse/spin water. Using biodegradeable soaps will insure reusable water.

    I catch rainwater for my animals and gardens also.