Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Excited for an audit?

Originally uploaded by MegElizabeth_
I was really excited this morning. The guy from the water company was coming over to do a complimentary water audit. Hooray! Finally somebody to just tell me what to do to be able to use less and save money – an easy answer, no thinking involved on my part!

That was short-lived. I guess the good news is that we “passed” with flying colors. We have low flow toilets to start with, and with the chunks of cement I found outside to drop in the back of the tanks, he said they’re now really low flow. We have aerated faucets and low flow shower heads. Our dishwasher got the thumbs up, as did our washing machine. We don’t have any landscaping since we live in a townhouse, and the plants I do have I’ve been watering from a bucket that collects water while I shower. It was good to find out for sure that nothing is leaking.

I could replace the washer with a front loader. They use less water, less detergent, and help your clothes last longer. The thing is, our top loader works just fine. It seems like a waste of money to go buy a new one. Plus, the one we have already uses less water than older models (according to my water auditor, this one uses about 29 gallons per load, compared to older models, which apparently can sometimes use close to 50 gallons per load). I believe front loaders use about 16-24 gallons of water per load. Since I only wash about 3 loads of clothes in a week, I’d be saving a maximum of about 40 gallons of water a week, which is roughly equivalent to two seven minute showers.

If the front loaders were less expensive, I’d think about it anyway. The fact is, they cost a lot of money. The cheapest one I found in a quick, informal web search was $600, while most were closer to the thousand dollar mark, and several of them were even more than that. I just can’t justify that purchase to myself while our other machine is working just fine. If I was in the market though, I’d definitely be checking out the WashUp. How cool is that?

So what can I do to work with what I have? I did my own water audit, since the official one left me feeling very unsatisfied. I ended up focusing mainly on two appliances, the dishwasher and the washing machine, since I’d already addressed my water usage in the bathroom. I ended up looking at the energy as well as water usage of these appliances. Here’s what I came up with:

1. My dishwasher has a “water miser” setting. I’m using that from now on. I wish they gave it a better name though. This makes me sound grumpy.
2. I will continue using only the “air dry” setting on the dishwasher.
3. I will use the same water glass all day.
4. If I use a measuring cup or spoon for dry items, I will wipe it with a towel and not put it in the dishwasher.
5. I’ll use my towels for 5 or 6 days instead of 3 or 4.
6. There are some items that I just won’t re-wear, but I’ll try harder to wear some other items more than once, especially pants and sweaters.
7. I will continue to be extra vigilant about only running the dishwasher and washing machine when they are really (REALLY) full. I stuck a piece of paper to each machine and am going to write down the date each time I run it so I can monitor my usage more carefully and remain conscious of it.
8. I’m using only cold water in the washing machine. It really does work just as well.
9. I’m not using the dryer anymore. Dryers use a lot of energy, and as somebody pointed out, in the summertime, it’ll heat the house up when I’m really wishing it was cooler.

So that’s what I came up with…believe it or not, I’m actually kind of excited to get my next utility bills to see how effective this will be!


Debot said...

I love the Washup. There are some other cool devices at that site too.

Melissa said...

Isn't it cool how creative people are sometimes?