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[personal profile] mimulus_borogove
Our water utility has declared that we have a drought, and that we're going to start a new fee structure in August. By this time, we will be expected to use 90% or less water than we have in the same months of previous years or pay a premium.

This isn't going to be prohibitively expensive for us even if we go over the 90%, but I'm trying to think of ways to ratchet down our water use. I try not to waste in general, but I have gotten a little lazy on a few points. There are a few things I won't compromise on--the kids need clean sheets every week, and the new plantings need to establish their root systems if they're going to be xeric later--but I'm making some vows to cut back on our water usage.

What I'm trying first:

  • Put more items in the dishwasher; hand-wash fewer items.
  • For plates that need hand-washing, remember to use the spray head instead of the faucet. It uses less water, and it works better anyway.
  • Wash hair every other day. I do need to wash the rest of me pretty much every day, but hair often benefits from less washing.
  • Stop using the warm shower as a place to work out muscle stiffness; do a little tai chi every day instead.
  • Collect water left from heating shower water and use it to water houseplants and garden.
  • Using bibs, washcloths, and kid clothes of the color due for the next washing. This will keep me from doing extra OxiClean soaks or doing laundry before a load is full.

I found a site that has a lot of clever ideas for conserving water and finding leaks in the home, too. I'll have to try some of their recommendations.

It's kind of nice to have an impetus to cut back on water use. I'm big on conserving in general, but working at home and having kids has really let our use of all utilities balloon. I have found it pretty easy to look at the bills and say, "Well, of course it's high. It's because we have kids." But we may not really need to do a load of laundry every day. We may not need to hand-wash all the kids' dishes. It's time to re-examine our patterns and see if they couldn't be more efficient.

Good plan!

Date: 2008-05-30 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drj0402.livejournal.com
I misread "90% OR less" as "90% less," thinking you had to limit use to 1 gallon for every 10 you normally use and wondering if what you were suggesting was enough... :-)

Since the goal is to limit use to 9 gallons for every 10, I think you have a good plan.

Since your house is newer, you might not need to worry about this but check to make sure no toilets have slow leaks, and that all faucets in all sinks close completely.

Re: Good plan!

Date: 2008-05-30 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clair-de-lalune.livejournal.com
I read it the same way at first! And, I thought that would be impossible! But, now I understand. :)

Yes, it sounds like you have some very good ideas, [livejournal.com profile] jaderabbit.

Re: Good plan!

Date: 2008-05-30 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
Thanks! One of the really cool ideas at that site is that you can put food coloring in a toilet tank and wait 30 minutes. If it reaches the bowl, you have a leak. (And if you leave it longer, you have a stained toilet, but that's another matter.)

I'm glad we have a few months to try this stuff out so I can see if it's working.

Date: 2008-05-30 11:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whatifoundthere.livejournal.com
I misread the post the same way, and it wasn't until I saw your comment that I finally got it.

But now, even though I'm reading it correctly, I'm still puzzled: does the amount of water you are permitted use just happen to be 90% of your previous use, or are they telling everybody to "cut down by 10%"? If it's the latter, that sounds like it's punishing the people who were conserving all along, and that's incredibly fucking irritating.

Date: 2008-06-01 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
They want everybody to use 90% of what they used in previous years. I guess that's cutting off 10%, but I didn't want to phrase it that way because I have heard math people complain about bad statistics too many times.

And yeah, it does seem pretty unfair to the people who were already doing really well. But that's not us, at least not totally. I never ran the faucet while brushing my teeth, but I must now use showers as a hygiene necessity instead of a luxurious wallowing.

Date: 2008-06-01 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
Whoops. I just looked at the water notice again. It's a bit confusing, but now I understand that what they mean is that our baseline quantity--the rate before we start getting a higher rate--is 90% of what it was in previous years. So no one is getting penalized for having been economical before.

That said, we've been over baseline since we had the kids, so this will be an interesting challenge.

Date: 2008-05-31 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
Something we did in college was put a jug of water in the toilet's tank, so that it takes less water to fill it up, and you're flushing with that much less. Most of the time we don't need as much water in the toilet as we usually have.

It's not really environmentally-friendly of me to suggest using disposable products so that you can wash fewer things, is it? :) And, of course, there are cheating ways where you're not using less water, but you're using less of it at your house, like going to a laundromat. Even eating out would help in that regard, as someone else is doing your dishes! And bottled water... :) Sad that these are so easy to think of!

My husband has a "one pot" theory of cooking. He really doesn't believe in using more than one pot. You could try to cut down on dishes by using fewer pots, I suppose. :)

Date: 2008-06-01 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
One-pot cooking is a good idea, actually. I tried it the other day, and it was pretty cool. I tend to be in a rush and have something in the microwave and something on the stovetop at the same time, but maybe I could figure out more one-pot meals.

I must confess that I have had evil thoughts like, "Maybe if I went to the gym more and used the shower there, it would help." But all it would help would be *our* water bill. And ditto for bottled water; you look into all the water used in bottling and packaging and shipping, and you see why the Brita pitcher is a responsible thing.

I'll have to try the jug of water in the tank. Or a flask of a tasty alcoholic beverage, if the restrictions drive me that far. ;)

One pot cooking

Date: 2008-06-01 04:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
Turns out, as I google it, one-pot cooking is something of a phenomenon. I knew crabbydragon had purchased a cookbook on it.

Rocks in the tank could work, too. Doesn't have to be water, just the easiest thing to do, because you can take that water right out of the tank into the jug as you set it in, and then cap it.

Date: 2008-06-02 01:44 am (UTC)
auros: (Sequoia)
From: [personal profile] auros
One thing that Xta and I do to save water is to keep a bucket and a plastic pint cup in the bathroom. Any time you need hot water, you have to clear all the cold-to-lukewarm water from the pipes. We use the cup to catch that water and transfer it to the bucket. When the bucket is close to getting full, we use it to water our plants, indoors and out.

Date: 2008-06-02 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
We do that, too! It helps a lot, doesn't it? It really builds up. And since the master bath is a long way from the water heater, it takes several gallons to heat up, alas.

Tonight I even collected the water in which I boiled the carrots, let it cool, and poured it on a new planting outside. Hey, it's all vegetable matter...

Date: 2008-06-02 05:15 pm (UTC)
auros: (Hair Flip Brigade)
From: [personal profile] auros
Wow, I don't know how I hadn't thought of that... I guess it's probably because we don't boil things very often -- we mostly sauté or steam our veggies. But we certainly boil noodles sometimes... Will have to save the water from that...

Date: 2008-06-02 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] plymouth.livejournal.com
I have actually poured my water from hardboiling eggs (and the subsequent water from cooling them) into my garden bucket. And the water from simmering fava beans. I don't always remember because it's usually in the bathroom, but the times you've seen it in the kitchen that's usually why. I suppose I could get a second bucket, but, really, this is a small amount of the water I use and I don't think it's worth cluttering up the kitchen further.

Date: 2008-06-02 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
I just poured it into an old (clean) yogurt container that was headed for recycling anyway. I didn't want to keep murky carrot water in the bathroom and have to wash the bucket later. Laziness=conservation!

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