Wednesday, September 16, 2009

24 tips on saving water

This picture is a great example of recycling at it's best. The owner of the house has diverted one of the down pipes to a container so they can catch the water. They've also got an old can to use for carting the water. Add to that the plants and you wouldn't even know what it was to look at. Would you believe this is at the front of the house? Great alternative for those who can't afford tanks yet, or who don't like the look of them.

I love inventive ways to save water and money. Because any water saved will help lower your water bill. Part of a water bill is a fixed cost, unless you install water tanks and get rid of town water, it is a cost you have to have. The usage on the water bill varies though, and by being water smart you can easily reduce this part of the bill. Even though the cost of water is continually increasing, there are numerous tips on how to save water and cuts your costs, because the less you use the less you pay.

Now, some of my suggestions may seem silly, but they work. I know this because the bill we received for our rental property is much higher than when we lived in that house. Our tenants, consisting of 2 adults and 1 child, used more water than we did with 3 adults and 2 children older than theirs in the house. I compared the usage for the same time last year and they were using twice as much water as we had been. So, based on this, I figure the things I do must work. Especially since that comparison was last year, and I did another one this year, with new tenants and they used even more!

So here are my suggestions:
1.) Reduce the length of your shower. Australia is a very dry continent and most of us have lived with harsh water restrictions. That doesn’t mean though that when it’s raining we should go nuts with the water. 3 minute showers should be sufficient.

2.) Have a bucket to catch the water from the shower. I use my daughters’ baby bath. This water can be used in the garden, washing machine, for soaking clothes etc...

3.) Redirect your washing machine grey water to the lawn and water it this way. You can get hose at the hardware store long enough to reach all parts of your garden. Simply move the hose each time you do a load of washing.

4.) Have containers under all your taps to catch any drips. Recycle this water in the washing machine, toilet cistern, anywhere you need water. Since this water is fresh water, you could use it to scrub the vegetables before cooking.

5.) Wash only when full. This goes for the washing machine and dishwasher. They use a lot of water, so get the most out of them.

6.) Use a bowl of water in the sink to scrub vegetables or rinse dishes instead of running water. By using a bowl, you can easily tip this water onto the garden.

7.) Place something in the toilet cistern. Fill up a bottle of water and place it in there. This reduces your water usage with every single flush. How much depends on the size of the bottle you put in there.

8.) Re-use water! Look for every possible way water can be used BEFORE it goes down the drain. The example I am about to give may seem extreme, but I managed to have 3 adults and 2 kids in the house, but only used the same amount of water as your average single person. When I gave my nieces a bath (they were the 2 kids with me), after they had finished, instead of draining the bath, I’d put in a bit of Napi-san and soak whatever clothes needed to be soaked. After they were done, I’d use the water to mop the floor, and then the water was used either in the toilet cistern or garden. I kept a 4 L ice cream container next to the bath, so every time someone went to the toilet, we’d fill the cistern using the ice cream container and the bath water. My floors did not get dirty, because we were shoes off household, so the water was not a funny colour when we flushed. Yes, it was a bit of work, but our bills dropped dramatically when I started doing this.

9.) Use a water saving shower head. They have some great designs now, so you don’t feel like you are trying to shower under a trickle.

10.) Never leave taps running. It is so common for people to leave the tap running when brushing their teeth, but it is completely unnecessary. Wet your tooth brush. Turn off the tap, brush your teeth, then quickly rinse your brush. You can fill a glass of water, and use that to rinse your mouth. So much less water is used this way.

11.) When you wash your hands, instead of running them under the tap for ages, wet them, turn off the tap, scrub your hands with soap thoroughly, and then rinse them under the tap.

12.) Use water drained from vegetables to cook pasta in, or use for the base of a soup. It is full of nutrients. You can freeze it to use later.

13.) Water your garden in the early morning or evening, not the middle of the day. A drip irrigation system is better than hosing, but is time consuming to install, and not the easiest. Plants do not need to be watered every day either. Find out how often what you are growing needs to be watered, then stick to that. Don’t just water for the sake of it.

14.) Try to use less water for everything. Don’t over fill the pots with water when cooking, just use what you need.

15.) Use the water from your fish tank on the garden. It’s has a lot of fertilizer and nutrients.

16.) If you must wash your car, (and are allowed to) do it on the lawn, so the water running off the car is used. As for us, our car gets washed when it rains, and the windows when we fill up with petrol.

17.) If possible, shower at work or the gym. My husband used to pack everything he needed in a bag the night before and go to work early and shower there. If you are paying for a gym membership, use all the facilities, including the showers. I am astounded at the amount of people who go home after a work out to shower. Use their water, not yours.

18.) Install water tanks. This can be expensive, so why not try doing all the other tips and putting aside the money you are saving on your water bills to invest in tanks.

19.) Leave buckets and containers outside to collect water when it rains, then use it, it’s free!

20.) Share the love and shower together.

21.) Have a water audit. Our water company offers this for $22. They send out a licensed plumber who checks for leaks, installs a water saving shower head, reduces water flow, etc... A shower head alone is worth more than $22.

22.) Extreme showering. Sounds weird, but bear with me. I have previously, only in warm weather showered how I suggested you wash your hands. I wet my body with the shower (I was going to write wet myself, but that has a different meaning, doesn’t it?), turn off the shower, lather up, rinse quickly. Get out. Even when washing my hair, I turned the shower off between rinses. Yes, extreme, but we were broke and it worked. Not a good idea for winter though, and I was the only family member doing it. (Mainly because my husband was showering at work.)

23.) Have you heard the saying “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down?” The thought of going to the toilet and seeing pee in there makes me want to hurl, so, no I don’t really do this. I have on occasion done it out of fear of waking my daughters, not so much for the water savings. (Except when I was extreme showering due to brokenness.)

24.) Wash less. Say WHAT? No, I am not telling you to go around dirty, but do those jeans really need a wash or is it just habit to chuck them in the wash? Not only will they last longer, but by reducing your washing, you are reducing your water usage.

Hopefully you will be able to use these suggestions, at least some of them. If we all reduced our water usage, the world would be so much better off.

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