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June 7, 2010 / littlefooteslab

my water use update

I thought I’d give you a bit on an update on my water conservation project.  Remember, I wrote conserving water April 6th? I started about two weeks before that.  It’s been going well.  My main method of conservation has been to lessen the amount of showers I take.  Kinda weird for an American, but not weird for other cultures.  I shower every other day and any day that I feel I’d like to look especially nice.  Like if I have a meeting, or an event where I’d like to make a good impression.

I started this because I care about the planet and would like to make a positive change in my life in the way I treat good ol’ Mother Earth, I want to use resources more wisely, and I want to save some money!  I had heard that water and sewer rates would be going up up up in Portland and with a big garden going in this spring, I knew my usage would be going up too.  I didn’t like the way that math was looking, so it seemed like this would be a pretty easy change to make to lessen the impact on my pocketbook.

Basically, between water and sewer rate increases we’re looking at an 18.35% rate increase.   Starting July 1, 2010.  

My water and sewer services are billed on a three month cycle, and my experiment didn’t exactly coincide with that cycle.  I just wanted to get it going when I did and not wait for the new cycle since that would have meant waiting another eight weeks from when I started.  So, to figure out how much my savings are is a little fuzzy, but not impossible.

About half of my billing cycle was my previous “normal” (showering everyday) and half was my new plan.  My water and sewer bill had been around $125 before I started this experiment.  My last bill was about $95.  That’s a $30 savings for conserving for half the cycle.  I’d say it’s well worth it.

It’s also worth noting that I have not started watering my garden yet this spring because the insane amount of rain has taken care of that task for me.  I’d like to set up a rain catchment system, but have not had the time / energy / money to do it yet.

One hope is that throughout the summer, when I am actively watering my garden, I won’t see my bill go over my old normal at all.  I’d like to conserve more than what I use outside.  I know some of the summer it will be difficult.  When it is really hot out, I often need a shower to just feel normal at all.  I don’t want to gross everyone out by not showering during a heat wave.  My plan is to really try to limit the length of my showers when this is the case.  Maybe I’ll get one of those clocks that can go in the shower so I am more aware of how long I am in there.

Another side effect of showering less is the huge drop in hot water usage.  My electric bill is about one third of what it was during the coldest of the winter.  It’s hard to separate out the savings here because my electric use is so much different this time of year than during the winter months.  I have an electric furnace, I use more electric lights, and then there is the water heater.  I’m happy to have a lower electric bill for the next several months and I am okay in knowing that I am saving extra due to the minimization in hot water usage without knowing exactly what that savings is.  I guess if I had meters on all my appliances and outlets individually I could isolate the numbers, but that is going just a bit farther than I intend to.

What I have noticed is that over the course of the last two months, my hair has gotten a lot (A LOT) less greasy on non-shower days.  I often wear it up these day because I still think it feels kinda greasy, but it is so much better than when I first started.  I guess it’s true that our bodies can learn to produce less oil when it isn’t being stripped off everyday with shampoo.

Any other interesting conservation project going on out there?

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5 Comments

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  1. Molly / Jun 7 2010 12:53 pm

    THANK YOU for this…ugh. I wish it wasn’t true though.

  2. Molly / Jun 7 2010 12:54 pm

    about the rate hike I mean :) way to go on your conservation efforts!

  3. moma / Jun 7 2010 1:56 pm

    We’re saving water by drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Does that count?

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