Saturday, November 1, 2008

Water Conservation

I got my water bill a week ago. It was twice as much as it was the month before. Granted - I have been home more, therefore having more time to cook (which requires water usage), and I DID host 3 extra people for a week, all of whom took showers every single day. But TWICE as much??? Really?? I'm not going to blame anyone or anything - it's time to take matters into my own hands. I have to be more ever more conscious about conserving water - not only to save money, but also to help the environment and my community. So I've compiled a list of things that could help conserve water. It's not that I have to do every single thing on this list, or that I feel that I have to completely change your lifestyle. I'm just going to keep the ones in mind that I know I can do, and slowly integrate it into my lifestyle. Once I get that lower water/sewer bill, I'll keep it up because you've reaped in the benefits in a concrete way.

*Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.
Actually, the cost of sewage is waaay more expensive than the actual water itself, according to City of Atlanta Dept of Watershed Management. So you might want to examine your own water bill, if you live outside my neighborhood. So this might actually be a good idea. Problem is - I don't wash dishes in a tub or anything. This one might take me some time to figure out how to do without having to consciously think about doing it.

Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.*Verify that your home is leak-free, because many homes have hidden water leaks.

Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year which will add to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or strain your septic system.
Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain tank.)

I just fixed a badly leaking toilet. It cost me a chunk, but at least I know it isn't wasting water, causing water damage to my walls or floors (which could cost 10 times more than the repair in the long run). It really is worth fixing leaks, however small.

*Speaking of toilets, create your own low-flow toilet by placing a half-gallon milk jug filled with water and putting it in the toilet tank.
I also put a teeny bit of bleach in the milk jug full of water, to prevent algae and what-not from growing. One should probably replace the water once in a while - but replace it with used water!!!!!

*Take shorter AND fewer showers. Replace you showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
When it comes to showers - I'm all business. Get in, wash, rinse, get out. I've also replaced the showerhead with a water-saving unit I got at Singing in the shower's great - just pick a short song, to abridge your shower routine!
Also, during the colder months, I tend to shower every other day, as opposed to every single day. Unless one sweats profusely or partakes in hard physical activity every day or shovels poop (sorry for speaking so frankly), showering every other day can actually be ideal. THe natural oils on your hair protects it from damage and can help keep it shiny and soft.

Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
I had a couple of roommates in my life who put everything and anything in the toilet and flushed it down. Hair, q-tips, tissues, etc. Eventually it clogged up the toilet and we had to get a plumber to fix it. BAD roommates, bad! This is what a trash can in the bathroom is for!

Don't let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.

Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using. Also, if the season/weather is okay for this, line dry your laundry.
I never saw the point of washing A blanket, or A pair of pants. I guess it's the anal retentiveness of my conservationalist personality that really irked me about people who do that. I also had an ex who, instead of ironing his clothes or pulling his clothes out of the dryer and folding/hanging them up right away, every morning he'd put his outfit for the day in the dryer and dry it for 30 minutes. OMG. HORRIBLE. I'm getting hives just thinking about that.

When washing dishes by hand, quickly splash some water over the pile of dishes. Wet the soapy sponge, and scrub/soap up all the dishes in one sink or basin. Then, quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
I remember this is how my parents washed dishes when I was a kid. I was re-introduced to this easy and quick method of dishwashing from my Spanish friend, Lara. Leave it to the Europeans - they really know how to unclutter and live a more minimal lifestyle.

Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.
Or if you can get used to room temperature water, then you don't even have to worry about this step!

Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.

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