Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


April 7, 2008

$2,400 Refund … from Saving Water

Category: Big Things,Conservation,Garden,Household,Save Water,Take Actions,Tips – Tom Harrison – 12:02 pm

When I started this blog in 2005, I quickly realized that the only way to conserve energy was to know how much of it I used. We have had continued success reducing electricity use. And finally, I can quantify how much we have reduced our water use.

We finally got our adjusted water bill, and we are getting more than $2,400 back from Newton Water and Sewer. Wahoo! (I need the money: we’re not getting a tax refund this year :-| )

Our water savings came from conservation. Here’s how:

As I finished the electricity exercise I looked at our water bill. I found that starting somewhere around the middle of 2004 we started getting estimated bills, so I really couldn’t calculate if we had saved water.

I just paid the bills. Then, the bill had in small type a notice that our remote meter reader was broken. I called the water department; no answer. I called again, and they needed someone to be home during a time Theresa and I were both working; it was a pain. I punted.

Finally, now that I am working a couple days a week out of the house, I made the call. They came (6 weeks after I called), fixed the reader and took a manual reading off the meter. They sent the revised bill (another month later), which show we overpaid by $2,450. Wow.

How Much is $2,450 of Water?

I understand dollars. Less spent is good. But why? That’s harder to figure out.

They adjusted back 7 quarterly bills, but from my bills that last actual reading I see was 4 years ago. The estimate appears to be based on the prior year’s usage which came to 36 HCF (hundred cubit feet) per quarter. Comparing the last actual reading from 4 year ago to the current meter reading we actually used 345 HCF, which is a difference of 86.25 per year, or 14.5 HCF per quarter.

But what does that mean in gallons? Per day? Google to the rescue…

100 cubic feet in gallons is about 750 gallons/HCF. That’s a lot of gallons.

So we used 345 HCF over 4 years, 365 days a year, meaning we use 175 gallons per day! We were getting charged for almost 300 gallons per day.

The Bottom Line

So the bottom line is that in 2003 we were using around 300 gallons per day, and over 4 years, we have cut down to 175 per day. We have reduced our water consumption by more than 40%.

The bad news is that over those same 4 years, we averaged 175 gallons of water per day.

The major contributors to water conservation

I’ll write another post on details of why, but it’s clear that there are two major factors:

  1. We had an underground water sprinkler installed in 2003 and used it a lot; since then we hardly water the lawn because we have changed how we do lawn care
  2. We have installed a energy and water saving washer and dryer; we recently switched to a very low-flow (but excellent) shower head; and we conserve water in several other ways.

I don’t think we are using 175 gallons of water per day today, since many of our water conservation efforts have been relatively recent. We’ll see. I know to look at that water bill carefully!

5 Comments

  1. […] recent windfall from the water company reminded me that I could not possibly have known how much water I was using. I am not so tied in to […]

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  2. […] the bright side, my water bill went way (way!) down. Keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil, and water only when necessary. Two years ago, I […]

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  3. […] think we have made some progress there, too. I did a calculation on our water bill, and that one is stunning, as […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Things We Did To Cut Our Electricity Bill in Half | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — December 21, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

  4. […] the effectiveness of this approach. He has reduced his electricity use by 50% in 4 years, and his use of water by a similar fraction. One post refers to measuring power consumption minute-by-minute using a […]

    Pingback by It’s not easy being green | Song for Jasmine — March 1, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  5. nowadays, we are seeing some water shortage and water conservation is even more necessary~’`

    Comment by Carter Ward — July 11, 2010 @ 6:26 am

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