one big change in owning my own home is having to pay my own water bill. as we get into the growing season that will certainly affect our gardening habits, while taking showers i’ve been thinking of how to re-plumb my bathroom to collect grey water to water the garden. i’ve been imagining doing rainwater catchment off the roof with large totes. thinking about the low-flow drip irrigation to install.
in a place like the great lakes region, it’s easy to forget how important water is. we take it a little for granted. even more so when your landlord pays the bill.
certainly i wouldn’t say i’m a water hog, i take short showers, i let it mellow if it’s yellow, but still i could be a lot better – and getting a water bill has made me think more about how to save water.
until i get those totes for the garden, i’m focusing on simple methods to save water. nothing major, but a few little things that save water here and there add up to a lower water bill, and saved water. best of all they require absolutely zero plumbing to do, so those that are not too handy can still do it.
1. shower with a bucket. when i start the water, i tend to let it run until it gets to the temprature i want to shower with. that’s a bunch of water wasted. when i stop taking a shower, the water has to drain out of the shower head and the tap, another bit of wasted water. my solution is to put a five gallon bucket in the tub and catch the water at the beginning and the end, and it grabs a little extra during the shower portion too.
total savings is about 4 gallons of water. not a huge, but i take shower most days – so in an average month i figure i save about 100 gallons of water this way. it can easily be used to bucket flush the toilet, or water the house plants.
2. use a tub while doing dishes: think of all the water just going down the drain. instead filling the sink (which frankly is too shallow in our house any way) we have a tub that we put in the sink to wash dishes in. i start with an inch or two of water and soap, wash the flattest things such as silverware and saucers first and then every time i rinse, capture the rise water in the tub. with each batch of dishes rinsed i raise the water level and wash dishes that need more water with each progressive batch. here is the tub all filled up with all the water i used for doing dishes – wash and rinse water. this is about six gallons that i can then take outside and water the perennials with, or add to the compost pile (but not annual food crops without some sort of filtering and processing). six gallons of reduced water use. it’s actually more, since i’ve made double use of water – wash and rinse are combined, if i’d filled the whole tub up to wash and then rinsed with other water, i would have used at least 9 gallons of water to wash dishes total. even if i don’t bother to take the water outside (and why would in freezing cold months) i still saving at least 3 gallons a load. since i do the dishes at least once a day in an average month i figure i’m saving 270 gallons in warm months and 90 gallons in a cold month.
between these two methods i calculate 3,360 gallons of water saved.
what are your low tech or other solutions to saving water you use?