Save 15% – 35% on Your Water Bill
By Rolando Rodriguez, M.S.
Here are several easy ways in which you can use less water and still do the same things you do now:
1. If you don’t have a low-flush toilette (WC), grab a one gallon ziplock bag and fill it with sand or small rocks (no more than 2 inches ─5 cm─ each), add water until the bag is full, zip it and place it in the water tank of the toilette opposite to the flushing valve. Make sure that it stays put and doesn’t float away. Alternatively, you can put a 1 or 2 liter plastic bottle filled with sand or rocks in the toilet tank. What this does is keep the volume of the bag (or bottle) from being flushed. Basically you are saving that volume every time you flush.
2. If you are handy or a do-it- yourselfer, you can purchase a dual flush devise and install it yourself. This devise is designed in such a way that now you have two buttons: one for lighter discharges (less water in the flush), and one for the normal discharges.
3. Install a low volume toilette.
4. Change your shower head with a low volume one (2.5 gallons per minute ─10 Liters per minute).
5. Turn the water off when you are lathering up in the shower. Some shower heads come with a shut off valve in the head itself.
6. Place a 1 or 2 gallon ─4 to 8 Liters─ bucket in the shower and let it fill when you are showering. Use this water to fill the toilette water tank or to flush it directly.
7. Turn the water off when you are brushing your teeth and when you lather your hands while washing them.
8. Fill a glass of water (about 8 ounces ─240 ml─) and use only that amount when brushing your teeth.
9. If you live in a place where it rains more than 30 inches ─75 cm─ a year, install a rain barrel so you can catch the rain run-off from the roof of your house. You can use that water to water the plants or lawn, to wash the car or to fill a toilette tank. Note: Do not drink it or wash food with this water.
10. If you have a sprinkler system to water your lawn, set it to water it one hour before sunrise or one hour after sunset. This prevents loss of water through evaporation.
11. Your lawn will most probably need 1 inch ─2.5 cm─ of water 2 or 3 times a week. Get several plant pot dishes or cans, mark the 1 inch level on the inside and place them throughout your lawn. Turn the sprinkler system on and see how long it takes to fill the dishes to the 1 inch mark. Set the sprinklers to water for that amount of time.
12. Install a rain sensor so you don’t water your lawn during or immediately
after it rained. And,whenever possible, take water from a lake, a river or a well to water your lawn. More than 50% of the water used in a house is used to water the lawn.
13. Landscape your house with local and drought resisting plants and try to put as little grass as possible. Instead use colored mulch or river rocks or other decorating options. A Zen garden is very nice and relaxing.
14. When you fertilize your lawn, use 25% to 35% less fertilizer than recommended on the bag. A lawn that is over fertilized requires more water to keep (plus it costs more in fertilizer). Look for organic and/or natural fertilizers with slow release. You can also start composting and use that to fertilize your plants.
15. Wash your car(s) over your lawn with eco- friendly detergent late in the afternoon.
16. Use the dishwasher as much as possible, but wait until it is fully loaded. They can use as little as 1 or 2 Gallons to wash a load. Some even have an Eco-settings.
Remember that using less water is a state of mind. Before you implement any of these techniques, go and look for your water bills and see how much per month your household uses on average (try going back 10―12 months). Then implement as many techniques and keep tabs on how much you are saving each month. Depending on how much you do, you should see a savings of 15% to 30% or even more.
Your water bill probably measures water volume in cubic feet. One cubic foot equals 7.5 Gallons ─30 Liters─. You will also notice that they charge you for the amount of water that comes into the house and for the water that comes out (oh yes, that too!). See how much is each. Take a look at the bill to familiarize yourself with it. If you don’t understand something, call the Water Department or look it up in the Internet. Try to use no more than 55 Gls. ─220 Liters─ per person per day. This will come to to about 650 – 700 cubic feet of water per month for a family of three.