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Old 02-17-10, 11:56 AM   #1
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Default Save $162 per year for 5 mins. of work, REALLY



Wow, I just crunched the numbers, and realized that I am now saving $162 per year, for about 5 minutes of work.

How is that possible?

Well, start with the "low-hanging fruit."

Conserve as cheaply as possible whatever is most expensive. At my house, it's waste-water. Where I live, we have a well for our incoming water, but a "holding-tank" for wastewater. That's basically a buried tank in the backyard that all water from the toilet, sink, washer, shower, and any other drain in the house goes to. We live just down the street from a lake, and have a high enough water level that water actually oozes out of our front yard, about 2 feet from the road. Neither sewer or a septic system are options here. (Actually, a mount septic system would be possible. It would cost $15,000, and literally take up the entire backyard.)

The holding tank is 2000 gallons. When it is full, it cost $90 for a pumper truck to come out and empty it.

If my wife and I were both AVERAGE AMERICANS, using 69 gallons of water per person per day at home, we would fill that tank in 15 days. Paying $90 TWICE a month ($180!!!! monthly!) is NOT my idea of a good time!

So, what can we do about it?
We have already taken various water conservation measures, involving the clothes washer, and toilet, the two biggest water-wasters in the home.
The third largest home water user is the shower.

Our existing showerhead pumps through 2.5 gallons of water per minute. That's pretty much the standard. At the Home Improvement Store, nearly EVERY showerhead was rated at 2.5gpm.

Now lets think about this. Say I take a 5 minute shower. Everyday. So does my wife.
That's:
2.5gpm x 5 min = 12.5 gallons per shower
x 2 people = 25 gallons per day

The tank holds 2000 gallons / $90 pumping fee = $.045 = 4.5 cents per gallon. I spend almost 5 cents per gallon to throw water away!!!

$0.045 x 25 gals = $1.125 per day to shower
x 30 = $33.75 per MONTH to shower.
That's more than my CABLE BILL!

Who knew showering was so expensive!?

I quickly headed to the store to find a flow-restrictor, new showerhead, or some other way to save water in the shower.

Looking through the rather large display of showerheads at the store - some costing over $100 - I could only find ONE water-saving showerhead. ONE. That's it. No flow restrictors, no other showerheads. Just that one.

So I bought it.

Replacing the old showerhead with the new one took about five minutes total. Four minutes of that were to find a slip-lock pliers to help unscrew the old head. One minute to screw on the new showerhead.

The new showerhead is 1.5 gallons per minute.
1.5gpm x 5 min shower = 7.5 gallons
x 2 people = 15 gallons
x $0.045 = $0.675 per day for showering
x 30 days = $20.25 per month for showering.

Old showerhead = $33.75 monthly
New Showerhead = $20.25 monthly
Monthly savings = $13.50

And the best part? The showerhead cost $12. That means I have a return on investment of less than one month.

$13.50 x 12 months = $162 per year savings.
That also means I would have to pump the tank almost two fewer times per year, AND save that much wear and tear on my well pump.

Not bad for a $12 investment and five minutes of work.

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Last edited by Daox; 10-14-12 at 07:52 PM..
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Old 02-17-10, 01:32 PM   #2
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Not bad at all I'd say!
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Old 02-18-10, 12:25 AM   #3
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for city water I figure we pay well over a cent per gallon, so that shower head would take a year or more to pay for it's self, but still well worth it.
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Old 02-18-10, 12:30 PM   #4
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My calculations show it would save me ~$20 a year. My water and septic are cheap.
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Old 02-18-10, 12:42 PM   #5
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Thats only the water though. The energy to heat the water is where the savings come in for most people.
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Old 02-18-10, 03:50 PM   #6
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Cost to heat a gallon of water
It says 1-2 cents per gallon on average, my figures that I ran before finding that site agree.
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Old 02-19-10, 09:31 AM   #7
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True. Now we're talking more like $60 a year. Not bad. I'll have to start looking more seriously at these things.
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Old 02-19-10, 02:35 PM   #8
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When I try to explain to my friends that they too can save money with low flow shower heads, not letting the water run while doing the dishes, investing in a low flow toilet and all those other things, I sometimes get people rolling their eyes at me, then I remind them that I work part time and have the same kind of lavish life style as everyone else I hang out with and am free of debt, how can I do this? Invest in things that save you money over their entire life.
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Old 03-10-10, 04:52 PM   #9
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I have a Home Depot-type low-flow. I spent a week alone when my wife and son went out of town, so I took the opportunity to do some savings of my own.

First thing was to turn down the water heater until showers were just tolerable without mixing in any cold. The dishwasher has a water heater option, so I use that to get the water hot enough to disinfect well. Then, I worked on perfecting my navy shower. I got it down to the following steps:

1. Brush teeth in sink.
2. Turn on hot water. The instant the water starts to get tolerably warm, plug the drain and step in.
3. Get body wet, turn off hot water.
4. Soap up.
5. Rinse hands in water at bottom of shower.
6. Shampoo hair.
7. Turn on water. (Add cold if necessary.) Rinse all at once.
8. Turn off water.

My shower still takes about 5-7 minutes, but the water is running for a total of 3 minutes or less, and I'm taking advantage of the "water warmup time" by jumping in as soon as it's tolerable, rather than running it until it's hot, then adding cold and waiting until it's comfortable. (In fact, I'm probably using the same amount now for the whole shower as I did just getting the temperature right before.)

An interesting side-effect is that I figured out just how much heat is being wasted by my poorly-insulated pipes down in the crawlspace. On a 45 degree morning, with the water heater turned down (the first mark above "vacation"), the water was nice and warm. The next morning, when it was 29 degrees outside, the water was chilly. Apparently the difference in heat loss through the pipes, indistinguishable when the water heater is set to 140 degrees, was very apparent in my experiments.

Needless to say, I'm buying some pipe insulation and getting to work this weekend.

BTW, I still do the navy shower, even though my family doesn't. Every little bit helps.
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Old 04-02-10, 09:56 AM   #10
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Two brief updates on this showerhead.

1) My wife seems to like the spray pattern and pressure of this one more than the less-efficient showerhead we had.

2) My water heater really was turned pretty low before. Because I am using so much less water in the shower, I felt OK about turning the heater up a little. I am now heating the water to a higher temperature, but I am heating less water. (Although I do understand that I really can't get around stand-by losses.)

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