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Disappointing calculations...  RSS feed

 
William Bronson
Posts: 1448
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
18
forest garden trees urban
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Having found a way to get cheap storage,I started to calculate my water needs.
I have no current access to last year's usage data,but average daily usage is pegged at 400 gallons.
My roof can only collect around 2000 gallons during the rainiest month.
I could hijack the water from my neighbor's roofs, but at 400 gallons a day I still would need 12000 gallons of storage.
That translates roughly into a pool 20' across and 5 feet deep, or a 218 barrels.
Costs aside, where do I put all that storage? My home is small, my yard is small...

I might be panicking without cause,given the lack of accurate information about our water usage.
But last year's average monthly bill in my area was $80 or so, and ours was roughly $250!

So, what to do? Well I just hijacked my brother's low flow toilet(he is turning a half bath into a laundry room).
That goes in tomorrow.

Laundry efficiency is harder due to a lack of funds.
I know a modern efficient washer could save on water, using less than half what my ancient(15 years plus) washer, so maybe saving up for one beats investing in water harvesting.

Already have a low flow head on the shower,we don't really use water outside,sinks could benefit from a valve like these:
http://shop.instant-off.com/product-category/home-series


So water conservative seems like a better place to start than water harvesting,for me, at this time.
This mirrors the experience of people who move towards getting off grid with energy.


 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1378
Location: northern California
46
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If you are irrigating for a significant part of the year anyway, and can contrive to direct the washing machine's greywater into these areas, then why replace the washer at high cost?  You are going to use that water anyway for irrigation, the washer is simply using it for another purpose first.  Same for the shower.  So I would say start with greywater, then conservation, and then catchment.  You are right in discovering that catchment enough to make a significant impact on irrigation needs for even a modest garden is way more than a few barrels.  I encourage people to think more on the scale of a swimming pool.  In space limited sites, with plenty of money, catchment tanks can be underground; but this requires a pump to get the water out for use.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1448
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
18
forest garden trees urban
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We really don't irritate. With an average of over three to almost 5 inches of rain a month we prefer to amend the soil till it holds plenty of water.
My plan for water harvesting was to end my household dependence on city water.
Killing the bill is the goal.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1378
Location: northern California
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In that case you are correct.  Conservation is always the lowest-hanging fruit when managing expenses of any sort.  Anything else will take more up-front investment to accomplish.
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 749
Location: USDA Zone 8a
53
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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Maybe there are some ways that your family could conserve water?  Where do you think that your family uses most of the water?  Showers or laundry?

Maybe a family talk could lead to ways that they could conserve water. Explain to them about your calculations. Take shorter showers?  Or take their showers while at the gym?  Maybe they could hang clothes back up if they only wore them for a few hours?  Maybe they could use their towels for a week before putting them in the laundry hamper? (My thinking on this one is:  I just took a shower so my body is clean so my towel doesn't get dirty.) Maybe only run the dishwasher when it is full? 

Here are some suggestions:

Typical water use at home
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 133
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  I took a quick look at the low flo faucet adapters. I've been a plumber for 35 years and have never seen these. Great idea and I Can see where the saved water could add up over a year. I will be using a rain water recovery system at my camp to help offset the main water source. .....Larry
 
Michael Bushman
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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William Bronson wrote:
But last year's average monthly bill in my area was $80 or so, and ours was roughly $250!



My first question would be why is your bill three times the average?   Is there an underground leak?   Defective meter?   Or some behavior that is using larger than average water?  Teenagers?
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1448
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
18
forest garden trees urban
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I suspect the culprit may be the toilet and clothes washer.
We have a low flow shower head,and none of us shower everyday.
BTW, I love that I can say that here,with no apologies.
I have sat and stared at the meter,all fixtures shut off, looking for leaks, but maybe it's time to do that again.
I have ancient steel supply lines in the basement,which might be why the pressure is so low in the house(there is no pressure regulator!).
No rust spots, all threaded pipe, so probably no leaks.

Recycling grey water from the shower has the deficit of complexity,but the benefit of not needing hardly any storage.

Shower>clothes washer>toilet is the ideal path for the water to take, but filtering and storage would be needed between each step, and even then treatment,in the form of aeration,UV irradiation,or chlorination would almost certainly be needed to keep the filtered grey water from turning into black water.

Of the three treatments I listed,chlorination is the cheapest,most certain and least sustainable.

Is there another way to cheaply sanitize water? Borax maybe?
It need not be potable, but shouldn't damage infrastructure or the environment.
The end product will go to the municipal sewer system for treatment.
I will have to look into it.
 
Marla Kacey
Posts: 130
Location: Wyoming Zone 4
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On the conservation side, have you considered composting toilets?  Probably wouldn't work if you are on a small lot with lots of neighbors, but something to think about?

Best of luck.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1448
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
18
forest garden trees urban
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I have considered composting toilets.
My wife swears she wants to use one.
But, I struggle to get her or the kids to deal with the rather inoffensive waste from their bunnies.
She just shot down the idea of flushing our toilets with recycled grey water.
So, that plan is out.
Perhaps I can get my consumption down low enough to fit a reasonable amount of storage. Right now I am not even precisely sure of what my usage is...
 
Connie McBride
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William Bronson wrote: I have considered composting toilets.
My wife swears she wants to use one.
But, I struggle to get her or the kids to deal with the rather inoffensive waste from their bunnies.


You know, we've been using a commercial model (Air Head) composting toilet for 6 years, and it's actually probably less offensive than bunny waste. If YOU do the emptying of the solids container once every 4-6 weeks (for 2 people full time) then she may be even more ready to try one. Here's our take on it: http://simplysailingonline.com/index.php?page=ss150
 
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 480
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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If your usage is really triple the average after you consider number of people...

My first thought would be to turn _everything_ off and go see if the meter is still turning. IOW, see if there is a leak.

Second would be ensuring you don't have run-on toilets where every other flush the flapper or ball get hung up and the toilet tank just drains forever until somebody comes along to fix it.

That much disparity in  your bill points to some kind of real problem. Whether it's infrastructure of behavioral, it's a stand-out problem that you s/b able to identify. If you really cannot find it, start recording your daily usage at the meter to see if certain days are culpable. Zero in from there. If nothing shows, start recording noon and 6pm.

Find that glaring problem that makes you a totally different species than your neighbors.

Rufus
 
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