Sunday, February 14, 2010

Water hungry showers, washing clothes and the toilets..

One of my first tasks I set myself in this blog was to conduct an audit of our useage of town water and see if there were any places where further saving could be made.

Going into the audit we thought that we were fairly good on our conservation of water in the house... we have
  • put extra bottles in the cistern of the old toilet to reduce the water it uses
  • we have a water efficient washing machine and dishwasher,
  • when we have ample water in the rainwater tank we run the washing machine and the main toilet on rainwater,
  • our garden outside is watered by the rainwater tanks or naturally by rain, and in drier times we bucket shower and bath water to the garden, and
  • we have tried to teach the kids the importance of turning taps off and reducing water use around the house.
Our littlest marking on her tick after going to the toilet

 So I guess it is no suprise that our audit just confirmed our previous observation that we are well below the average water consumption for households in Orange.  Our last water bill had us on a daily houehold useage of 466 litres, which closely matches our water audit just completed of 473 litres a day.  Our recording of water use must have been pretty accurate - thanks to all the kids that really got into marking up ticks for cleaning their teeth and flushing the toilet.

So where was our major water consumption and can we do anything about it...???

Our top three water consuming activities around the house were:

1.  Mum and Dads showers (44% of household water)

2.  The washing machine (18%)

3.  The toilets (combined for our two toilets - 16%)

That's nearly 80% of our household water useage!!!

So what actions can we take to further reduce our useage of town water.

Firstly, much to Dad's disappointment I will be ringing council to get our water guzzling showerhead replaced with a more efficient one - a free service at the moment.  Our current shower head uses a massive 22 litres of water per minute - that is so nice over the cold winter months in Orange.  By changing to a more efficient showerhead (11 litres / minute) we should save at least 730 litres a week or  37 kilolitres a year.  I was disspointed to calculate that this would be a cost saving of about $60 a year or just over a dollar a week - hardly an incentive to save water!  As suggested in the comments on my first water blog entry - we could take to Navy showers.  Not sure if I could commit to all Navy showers - but maybe a few in the warmer months would be OK.

Secondly, I will be looking into how we can use our tank water better for the toilet and washing machine - this will include assessing whether we can install another rainwater tank that would allow us to run the washing machine and our main toilet on rainwater all year.

At the moment we have the washing machine and our main toilet hooked up to rainwater, but when the tank falls below a quarter I take the inside rainwater off so that I have enough water to water the garden and maintain my glasshouse area.  My goal would be that through better harvesting of rainwater we may be able to run the toilet and washing machine on rainwater all the time. That would save a further 100 litres a week (or nearly 55 kilolittres a year).

Over the weekend we have had heavy rains and the rainwater tank is full again so I am off to switch to washing the clothes and flushing the main toilet with rainwater.


  1. It’s a shame you aren’t saving more by changing shower heads…I agree its hardly an incentive to change shower heads for those people who are motivated more by money.
    I try and take a navy shower every now and then…..but a real shower is just so much nicer.

  2. We get water too cheap... I think that's the problem... it's too easy to not care... We are hoping to work out where to put in another rainwater tank to collect water from another section of our roof... just have to find a suitable location on our smallish block...