Stop Draining Dollars
The water rates in New York City have gone up 14.5 percent this year. Are there any sites where we can learn better water economy? I have a big rain barrel to collect rainwater, and we save the water we have to let flow every morning (3 minutes) from the faucet because of lead contamination. I save that water in gallon milk bottles to water my plants. I also take a lot of sponge baths instead of showers. There must be others out there that could add some good water-saving ideas. Thank you for your help.
You'll find a good link with 49 ways to save water at www.americanwater.com/49ways.htm
There are two ways that I save water at my house. The first was when my washing machine broke down, I bought a new front loader. This was the only change I made at my house. My water bill reduced by $20 per month. I was not expecting such a large water saver with this purchase. I do about 10 loads of laundry a week.
The second is something that I have just tried so I am not sure of the savings. I went to a local RV dealer and bought a hand held shower massager that has a switch to turn off the water and then back on located on the hand held shower head. You do not have to readjust the water. Now when I soap up or shave, I cut the water off so it no longer goes down the drain.
Since California is almost always in drought conditions, water prices reflect it! So, I keep a small plastic tub (a bucket would do, but a tub has greater "catch" area) in the shower. It catches the warm-up water, some body run-off, and a lot of extra water. I then use that water to flush the toilet. Just pour it in to flush. When the flush is done, pour in some more water until it reaches the normal water level.
Please see my article on The Dollar Stretcher website on saving water. There are many ways to save water. You'll find my article at www.stretcher.com/stories/07/07jul23d.cfm.
I remember our grandparents washing dishes in a dishpan and then throwing out the water on the plants near the back door. We have started doing something similar because I was just sick thinking of all the water we were washing down the sink that could be watering our small garden. Now I wash dishes each day in a dishpan and then "re-purpose" that water by watering either plants, trees that were planted in the fall or a portion of our garden. I have noticed that I use less water this way and then it gets a second use rather than just filling up the septic tank.
Doing Things The Old Way in Florida
One thing the reader can do is take "military showers." Wet down in the shower and turn the water off. Soap up and then turn the water on to rinse off. Shampooing hair is the same. Also don't let the water run when brushing your teeth.
Don't take baths as they use too much water. Maybe it would be cheaper to use a laundromat instead of her washer. She could take the clothes home to dry or hang up. Toilets don't need to be flushed every time you use them. Remember what Dustin Hoffman said in Meet the Parents, "If it's yellow, it's mellow; if it's brown, flush it down!"
You spoke of running your water for three minutes every morning on account of lead contamination. I'm assuming that you are needing water for coffee/tea/drinking water. Have you considered running your drinking water in the evening instead? Then keep it in containers for the next morning. I do it myself for my coffee pot as the chlorine is supposed to evaporate after several hours and make the coffee taste better.
I suspect you've already heard (and probably tried) most of the standard tips for saving water, such as installing low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and toilet dams, and turning off the faucet while shaving or brushing teeth.
If you're prepared to get a bit more extreme, you can stop flushing the toilet after every use; flush it only when it contains solid waste. The washing machine is a major user of water, so you will also save water by washing things less often, washing clothes only when they are noticeably dirty, and using the same bath towel for at least a week and the same set of sheets for at least a month.
Aside from this standard advice, my only suggestion is to see if you could get a filter for your faucet that would remove the lead so you wouldn't have to let it run for three minutes every morning.
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