Reducing Water Use by Half


The average American uses about 60 gallons of water per day, or about 5,400 gallons per quarter. That is a lot of water. Our water bill arrives quarterly. I am usually in the 4,000 – 5,000 gallon range. I thought I was doing pretty well compared to the “average” American.
 
One of the benefits of being home all the time in the pandemic as a permanent remote worker is that I am actually home and have more control over my environment. I am not in a rush to get out the door, tearing through the house and throwing things around just trying to make it out the door. Being home all the time, I am more mindful of the resources I am using. 
 
Being home all the time, I am better able to manage things like the temperature in my home. I can open and close windows when needed to cool off the house and not rely so much on the air conditioning unit. I can do things like reuse the grey water from the dehumidifier for flushing the toilet and for washing clothes. 
 
If I had to work outside the house, I would not have the time or energy to do these things that are not only saving me money, but also reducing my energy use and helping the environment. 
 
I have been trying to reduce my water usage by reusing grey water. I take the water from the dehumidifier and use it when flushing the toilet to refill the tank. This way, I am not using “fresh” water to fill the tank. I am reusing the water the dehumidifier took out of the air. 
 
For the record, dehumidifier water is NOT safe for drinking water.
 
I have also been taking dehumidifier water and pouring it into the washing machine to reduce the amount of water the washing machine needs to use to fill to launder clothes. Reusing the grey water from the dehumidifier are little steps that I have been taking to try to reduce water usage. Many areas of the United States are in a drought, after all.
 
Reusing grey water made a small adjustment in my water usage. It was not very noticeable in my quarterly water bill.
 
However, there was one water changed this past quarter that made a HUGE impact in not only the amount of gallons I use, but also my bill.
 
The amount of water gallons I used dropped almost in half.
 
What did I do?
 
Well, it’s more what I have been forced to do. This was not a choice and it was not something I thought to do. It was an adjustment made out of necessity.
 
Back in March. Shortly after my birthday, the hot water heater died. I am still on a waiting list with two different plumbers to have it fixed. It is hard to do anything around here because the covid rates are so high. Of course, covid is affecting the plumbers, as they have to go into people’s homes.
 
So for the past quarter, I have had to find work arounds for hot water. I have been heating water in a pot on my stove to use to wash dishes and for bathing. This means that instead of water just running down the drain, my water use is now measured.
 
Did you know the average American uses 50 gallons of water to shower? That’s all water down the drain. 50 gallons is the size of my hot water tank. Since the hot water heater is not working, I have to heat water on my stove and have been taking bucket showers. This means that I am using about 1.5 gallons of water to take a shower. It is more than sufficient. 
 
Yup. You read that right. I have gone from using 50 gallons of water for a shower to 1.5 gallons.  That is assuming that the average American shower uses 50 gallons of water statistically. That’s a huge savings. 
 
In addition, when washing dishes, I am only heating about a gallon of water. Prior to the hot water heater breaking, I would just turn water on and let it run down the drain waiting for it to heat up. Now, I just turn water on, fill up the pot and heat it on the stove. There is no lost water going down the drain. 
 
Of course, I am using cold water in my washing machine. However, I was primarily using cold water in the washing machine prior to the hot water heater breaking. Occasionally, I would do a warm wash, but for the most part, I am washing clothes in cold water. 
 
Of course, I am privileged in that I am home and have time to heat water on my stove to use for dishes and bathing. I can tell you right now that if I had to work outside the home, it would be a hell of a lot easier to just turn on the shower and bathe than it is to take a bucket shower. 
 
The shower does work, by the way. I just can’t bring myself to take a cold shower. This is why I have been heating water on the stove and taking bucket showers.
 
I am still on the waiting list with two different plumbers to have my hot water heater fixed. Worst case scenario, it will be fixed this fall when my furnace is serviced. Heat is a necessity. Hot water is not a necessity. Hot water is a luxury.
 
Yes, I do want my hot water heater fixed. Life would be so much easier if I could just get hot water out of the faucets again. However, it is hard to believe that I have literally cut my water use in half since the hot water heater broke. It’s all because my water use is now measured. I only heat the amount of water that I absolutely need to use. I am using less water overall. It is not just needlessly and mindlessly running down the drains anymore.
 
It is possible that I will get the hot water fixed, and then still use the heating water on the stove method. I will probably use both. To be honest, I would love to take a normal shower again. However, having to make do without the hot water heater these past few months has not been all that bad. Sure, it takes more planning. However, I am home and able to implement the work arounds. 
 
What tips do you have for reducing water use? Do you try to lighten your environmental impact? I am only one person, but I do what I can to be earth friendly. I am privileged to have running water, even if the hot water heater is waiting to be repaired. 
 
 
 

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