December 29, 2009

Reducing Water Usage

I caught an interview a few nights ago with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about water shortages in California.  He has challenged Californians to lower their water usage by 20%.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that challenge. 

As I’ve told you all before, my husband and I created an Excel file and graph where we record the amount of our utility bill in dollars, the units used of electricity, gas and water.  We’ve recorded this, or I guess I should say that my sweet husband has been recording this, for a few years now.  It is so gratifying to see how our usage in these areas have decreased.  The graph has also beneficial in allowing us to record unusual events—one spike in gas usage might be due to a very cold few days when we also had company over, one spike in water was related to a series of bedwetting incidents when we were completing the potty training process with our daughter.  Knowing how much we’ve already reduced our usage, I think it would be pretty difficult for us to reduce it again by 20%.  No, we aren’t in California.  I haven’t moved; I’m still in TN.  I do have friends in CA, friends who are very environmentally conscious.  I’m wondering what steps they might be taking to reduce their water usage, given that like us they’ve already use significantly less than others. 

So, I’m hoping to hear from you all, especially those of you who are out west some tips and ideas for reducing water usage

Here are some to get us started:

  • Install a rain barrel.  This was such a wonderful money saving and water saving tool for us.  It took my hubby less than a day to make, and saved so much water.  We plan on installing another rain barrel next year so that we have even more water reserved.  Keep in mind that this water is not potable.  (There are some water filtration devices on the market, though). 
  • Take shorter and fewer baths and showers. 
  • Don’t run the water mindlessly—when doing dishes, when brushing your teeth, etc.
  • Rinse vegetables in a basin instead of underneath running water.  Collect any water for your indoor and outdoor plants.
  • When water glasses are left out overnight, use that water for your plants.
  • Install a low flow toilet.  Stop flushing unnecessarily—when you clean your brush and want to dump the hair somewhere, flushing a tissue used to blow your nose, etc.
  • Watch how much water you use when cooking.  Using less water for boiling potatoes not only conserves water but it also conserves energy.  (Less energy used to heat the larger amt of water to boiling).  Reserve the cooking liquid, let it cool, and use it on outdoor plants or for your animals.
  • Wash your car at a car wash instead of at home.  This one is a toughie for us since it costs so much more and since my daughter so enjoys washing the car with her father.  My husband uses wash basins to scrub the car and only does one final rinse to conserve water. 
  • When you do use water for your plants, water in the morning or at night so that water is not lost to evaporation.  Water at the base of the plant instead of by dripping water on the leaves.  This one won’t apply to many of us until the summer months, but I still wanted to include it.
  • Only wash full loads of laundry and dishes.  When washing dishes by hand use a rinse basin instead of running water. 
  • Try to grow plants that are adaptable to your climate to prevent the need for watering.
  • We wear heavy duty clothes like jeans more than once.  We hang our Sunday clothes up after use.  I did this for all of my childhood, and I’m not traumatized.  We have work clothes, outdoor play clothes, and dress or casual clothes.  At the risk of sounding ancient, people are a little spoiled when it comes to things like this.  No, we don’t wear smelly clothes or soiled clothes, but we are prudent.
  • When you need to replace your dishwasher or clothes washer, replace it with an energy and water efficient model.
  • Change out your shower heads and water faucets to ones that force the water through at a higher pressure.  This gives you the feel of having more water pressure/more water used but you are not actually using as much.
  • Don’t water your lawn.


For other utility saving ideas, visit my post here.  Please leave any other water saving tips in the comments section so that we all might benefit.

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