Over the last several months we have been making a number of changes in how we use water in our home. We just received our bi-monthly water bill and for the last period compared to last year at the same time, we reduced our water usage by 47%! I was amazed. So what did we do?
- Use only the low-water washing machine. We actually have two washing machines in our home. I used to be a massage therapist and my husband is a small engine mechanic. His greasy clothes and my massage sheets seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen, so we used the old washer for his clothes and the new one for my massage sheets, clothes and household linens.
Since I am no longer performing massage, Tom now uses the indoor washing machine for his laundry. This machine is a low water machine and I know saves a lot of water.
- Stop using our dishwasher. I had researched in the past and read that washing by hand takes more water than using a dishwasher but I was skeptical. Even though we had a newer dishwasher, we still had to rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. And, we had to use the heat dry cycle or we ended up with mold in the dishwasher. In addition, we couldn't seem to keep the film off of the dishes without using dishwasher soap with harsh chemicals.
So, we started washing dishes by hand. I actually started last summer but when things would get crazy or we'd have family over, we'd still use the dishwasher. Finally, in early December, we made the big decision and sold the dishwasher. We are still trying to decide what cool thing to do with the hole, but our water bill affirms the decision to rid ourselves of what must have been a water guzzler.
- Reduce toilet flushes. The other thing we have done is adopt the "if its yellow, let it mellow; if its brown, flush it down" philosophy in the bathroom. The toilet does need to be scrubbed more frequently, however, once again, I think the water bill affirms this practice.
So, what's next? The 47% reduction in our wintertime water bill is great. But, we still use more in the summer with the gardens. I'm thinking we will add additional rain barrels before spring to catch more of the rainwater for use in the garden this summer. And, we are fortunate, as much of the garden is in perennial plantings which take less water as they get established. I'm confident, we can reduce summer usage as well.