Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Efficiency, part 2 – water

In my last post, I talked about how I keep track of our electricity usage, to be sure that our efforts at efficiency & conservation are staying on track.  But that’s just one of 3 utilities; water has been another focus in our house.  Although we live right next to the Mississippi, and it’s unlikely to go dry anytime soon (I hope!) there’s still decent reason to conserve; if nothing else, it takes a fair bit of energy to treat that water before it gets to the house, and the sewage after it leaves.  (According to Energy Star, we spend $4 billion and use 50 billion kWh annually to treat water.)  And then there’s the gas for the hot water…

Anyway, water really wasn’t that hard to reduce.  We did these things:
(note, some Amazon affiliate links follow; these are the items I used)

None of this is too tough, or especially impactful on our lives.  The showers are quite fine; they aren’t human car washes, but c’est la vie.  And the grass isn’t always a lush green, but that’s just natural consequences in a drought, right?  The dual flush adapters work surprisingly well, and the clothes washer is a great machine.  The dishwasher is about all that’s left; we have to use a roll-around one so our choices are limited.

Anyway, it’s paid off pretty well; here are my gallons per day over time (measured quarterly via our utility bill) with a yearly rolling average:

We’re down to about half our peak use.  And here is a graph comparing use in each quarter (you can see that some summers we did use quite a lot more):

It still amazes me that we use 100 gallons per day; that does seem like a lot, although maybe not so bad for 4 people.  But as the kids grow up and start to want long and/or daily showers, we’ll see how things go!

Part 3 will cover my gas usage, and there’s an admission to make there … ;)

See also:

5 thoughts on “Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Efficiency, part 2 – water

  1. Pingback: Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Efficiency, part 1 – electricity | Eric's Blog

  2. We have a well, and our sprinklers and yard faucets all come from that; it makes a huge difference in our water usage.

    That said, low-flow toilets don’t work so well when you have to flush them twice (though the dual-flush at least makes more sense than the low-flow-all-the-time variety), and the low-flow showerheads *suck*.

    • With the dual flush, the er … “number two” flush is a full flush, and works just fine here.

      What showerheads have you tried? I’m sure some do suck; the one I linked to that I use in the basement (by Alsons), I actually quite like. The upstairs one (a Waterpik) is fine, but not great, IMHO. It passes the “does my wife hate it?” test, though. (i.e. she does not hate it ;) )

      • I had the impression that with the dual-flush systems, even the larger flush didn’t have as much power as the pre-low-flow toilets did. If that finally got fixed, and the dual-flush systems actually provide a full-power flush, then that sounds quite promising.

        Regarding low-flow showerheads, all the varieties I’ve used have one of two deficiencies: either they provide far too little water pressure and thus too little cleaning power, or they compress what little water they have into a very sharp, very fast, unconfortable jet.

        I don’t remember the specific model we use; it has the hundred small rubbery nozzles like some of the WaterPik models, but unlike most such showerheads it actually has a decent amount of flow and force out of each of those nozzles.

        • Well, I have no way to actually measure anything about the dual flush adapters I have (in both bathrooms, FWIW), but I can say that we’ve had no significant problems.

          The way this one seems to work is it simply drops the flapper sooner for the “#1” flush. It shouldn’t impact the function of the toilet in any other way – #2 should let just as much water flow as before – and it’s actually quite adjustable. I suppose it helps that it’s retrofitted onto a standard 1.6 gpf toilet and not an ultra-low-flush variety. I wonder a little about longevity, because it is a more complex mechanism, but so far so good. The only other issue is I see is that the buttons can be a little hard to press. (I know I sound like I’m selling it here, but I was actually just quite pleased with how well it worked).

          Showerheads are a bit tough, because you really can’t test them before you buy them, they’re quite subjective, and they can be hard to return. I relied on online reviews, and Consumer Reports ranked them as well. They actually liked an American Standard one best, with the Waterpik ranked a little lower.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.