Saving water

I would say we are pretty environmentally conscious and frugal when it comes to everyday consumption of things like water, electricity, gas, etc.

Truth be told, I get a lot of personal satisfaction (thrill, really) with recycling, composting, reducing, reusing, and the like. I see it as a challenge. Good thing I live in the city that has the best recycling program in the country.

Well, we have a new challenge here at the Haggard Haus. We got our water bill a few weeks ago and it was $55 more than the last bill. Jason was not pleased (that is really an understatement–really, it was all he talked about for a few days).

We try to be generally conscious of our water usage, but introducing cloth diapers and baby clothes is not helping the bottom line. If the rate stayed the same and we kept using the same amount of water, it would cost us over $330 a year more (and that’s the winter water rate, not including the summer rate increase). Again, that’s on top of what we already consume, not the total cost.

But the rate isn’t going to stay the same. Seattle Public Utilities notified us this weekend that the cost is going up 10.2%. I don’t do complicated math and my math genius husband isn’t here to do it for me so let’s just assume the additional cost is A LOT because 330 bucks is a lot to begin with anyway!).

A few weeks ago a very timely article on saving water was included in the Seventh Generation newsletter I receive in my inbox. I found their recommendations quite helpful. Based on this information and actions we are already taking, here is our plan (* means we haven’t gotten ourselves organized to do this task, but plan to).

  • Getting a front loading washing machine. Jason calculated that within six months we will have gotten our money back on this purchase. On top of that I used my maturing online frugal shopping skills (thanks Amie!) to save over $200 on our machine, which is being delivered this week.
  • Spending less time rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Seventh Generation says that there’s really no point to rinsing them at all but when I tried that my dishes did not come out clean. So I rinse minimally and that works fine.
  • Loading the dishwasher and washing machine full every time. But doesn’t everybody do that?
  • Not using the garbage disposal. Actually, we never have really used it because we throw all our food scraps in a plastic compost bin on our counter top. And now that Seattle is expanding their recycling services we can put bones, dairy and meat in there, too.
  • *Getting a rain barrel. This will come in handy when we plant our garden in a few weeks.
  • *Displacing water in our toilets by inserting plastic jugs in the tank. To be honest, if it’s only #1 we often don’t flush the toilet until several stops have been made at the potty (unless guests come over, then I go around and flush all the toilets before they arrive).
  • *Putting aerators on our faucets. We have an aerating shower head, but we are working on the rest of the faucets. They are apparently cheap and easy to install.
  • *Checking for water leaks. I thought this was a brilliant idea and quite easy. That is, unless you have a water leak. And then if you’re a renter you just call your landlord!

Hopefully in the next couple months I will be able to report back an improvement in our water bill.

BTW, I highly recommend Seventh Generation products. We use or have used their chlorine-free diapers and wipes, dishwasher detergent, dish soap, and all-purpose spray. You do pay a bit more, but you can bring down the cost occasionally by using the coupons posted on their site and catching Fred Meyer sales (like right now–25% off some items).

Not only am I impressed with the quality and ec0-consciousness of this company’s products, but I have also received great customer service. I called their hotline to ask for more coupons and they gladly sent me some, with a personal note from the lady I talked to. I also suggested to her that they re-design the fit of their newborn diapers because several moms have told me they leak (the other sizes fit fine). She told me they have already done so and the new product should be on the shelves soon.

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4 responses to “Saving water

  1. While I agree with most of these water-saving tips, I’d like to add a comment regarding displacing water in the toilet.

    A regular toilet is not designed to flush paper and solid waste with reduced amounts of water, so the likelihood of clogging or having to flush twice after installing a water displacement device increases. Standard US toilets clear the bowl with siphon technology, so the diameter of the trap way has to be a small as possible (please view siphon vs. washdown technology here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z6pymOet7g&feature=channel_page.) If you are serious about saving water, want a toilet that really works and is affordable, I would highly recommend a Caroma Dual Flush toilet. Caroma toilets offer a patented dual flush technology consisting of a 0.8 Gal flush for liquid waste and a 1.6 Gal flush for solids. Caroma, an Australian company set the standard by giving the world its first successful two button dual flush system in the nineteen eighties and has since perfected the technology. Also, with a full 3.5” trap way, these toilets virtually never clog. All of Caroma’s toilets are on the list of WaterSense labeled HET’s http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/find_het.htm and also qualify for several rebate programs currently available throughout the US as well as LEED points. Please go to http://www.caromausa.com for more detailed information or visit http://www.ecotransitions.com/howto.asp to see how we flush a potato with the half flush (0.8 gallons), meant for liquid waste. To learn more about toilets you can also visit my blog http://pottygirl.wordpress.com/. Best regards, Andrea Paulinelli

  2. keishavalentina

    Elisabeth, would you mind writing a post on how you recycle and reuse things in your household? I must admit, I don’t recycle very well and could use a good lesson. Thanks!

  3. Oh yes, I would love to do a post on that! Thanks for recommending it, Keisha. I will pull something together in the next week.

    I’ll even try to do a cost analysis if I can get Jason to help me crunch the numbers.

  4. faucet aerators are definitely inexpensive and easy to install. You can get them at any local hardware store and usually only cost a few dollars. However you should know that there are various levels of low flow faucet aerators starting at 2.2 gallons per minute flow rate all the way down to .5 gallons per minute.

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