On Monday, we discussed our electricity usage and what we are doing to reduce it. Today’s post will focus on our water usage and the path we’re taking to water conservation.
Conveniently, the water/sewer bill arrived yesterday, so I have some good numbers to share…I can’t believe I said conveniently and bill in the same sentence.
Here’s the snapshot of our most recent bill.
Total usage for the two of us last month was 2,348 gallons or roughly 78 gallons a day. This results in a total cost per day of $2.71, which includes water and sewer.
How does this compares to the average water usage per person in the US? After consulting a few resources (.gov, .org, water conservation sites), I became discouraged with my findings; the best data I can find showed a range of 50 to 176 gallons of water used per person per day. Wow! We are much more efficient than I thought, or our usage is misleading since we are out of our house or asleep most of the day.
We would love to hear from fellow frugal folks and tiny house owners on what their water usages are and the steps taken to conserve water!
So how are we going to reduce our water usage? The first step will be gathering data. We know that we utilize roughly 2,348 gallons per month, but where does it go?
To determine, this we are going to place a flow meter on the various water usage points. We will start this test at the small house since it has fewer points of use, and we’re moving out of the big house in a couple of weeks. The water usage study will focus on the faucets, water filtration system, washing machine, dishwasher, toilet and shower. Basically, everything in our house that uses water.
For the water filtration system, we have already conducted some initial testing and were surprised by the results. In our area, we have a lot of agricultural runoff that results in 350 ppm of dissolved solids or “stuff” in our water. Our borough (big house location) has also received a number of fines in the past years due to their water processing techniques and higher-than-allowable EPA levels of stuff. As a result, we purchased a 5-stage, reverse osmosis system. The good news is that this system drops the total dissolved solids to around 25 ppm. (We had been able to get to 0 ppm using deionizing resin but we’ve read mixed reviews on whether this is good or bad for you, so for now, 25 ppm is a major improvement from the 350 ppm.)
The bad news of our reverse osmosis system was soon discovered when we disconnected the waste return line from the RO unit and placed it in a 5 gallon bucket. We then proceeded to fill a 1 gallon jug with filtered water from the tap at the sink. The results? We generated 5.5 gallons of waste water in order to filter one gallon of RO water.
How do we fix this? Well, there are systems on the market that will take this wastewater and pump it back into the hot water tank so it can be utilized for non-drinking water usages. There are also a number of RO systems with higher efficiency ratings than our current system. We are looking into every option and will let you know what direction we go.
Another area for improvement, which was discussed in a previous post, is to reduce the size of our hot water tank. Going smaller results in less electricity demands for heating the water, which also prevents us from taking longer showers.
After reading this, you might be asking why all the effort to save $100 a year in water (assuming roughly 10% reduction in our bill due to water reduction focus). Our frugal nature is one reason why, but the main reason is to understand what our water requirements will be for Two Cup House. If we ever want the flexibility of being able to be off the grid, we need to practice conservation/frugal mode now. And it’s being conscious of the environment.