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Old 11-07-10, 11:55 AM   #1
Piwoslaw
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Default Piwoslaw's conservation thread

Now that I've got a whole two years of data on our water usage, I decided this is a good moment to start my own conservation thread. And I'll start with water, since that's what I can brag about Electricity and maybe gas will come in the future.

I've been recording the water meter's state twice a month since November 2008 (actually, now I record every 5 days, but twice a month is good enough resolution) and here is a graph with average daily consumption, in cubic meters (1000 liters, 264 US gallons).



The blue line is average daily water consumption for each half-month, the red and yellow lines are daily consumption for the preceeding half-year and year, respectively. Between 11.2008 and 11.2009 our average was 0.28 m3 per day, while between 11.2009 and 11.2010 it was down to 0.23

The higher consumption in 04-05.2009 was lawn watering, before we got our first rain barrel installed. In we 2010 we got two more barrels and they took care of garden watering until a long heat wave/drought, hence the spike in 07.2010. The dips were when either the Wife and I or Dad-in-law were gone for 2 weeks at a time. During the last 2 months we used some rainwater for flushing (about one 8-liter bucket every 1-2 days).

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Old 11-07-10, 09:30 PM   #2
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Very nice results. It looks like you've reduced your water usage by ~25%. Besides the rain barrels, what have you been doing to see this improvement?
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Old 11-08-10, 12:03 AM   #3
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I forgot to mention the techniques we've been implementing. Mostly it's the If it's yellow, let it mellow method the Wife and I have been using, but also I sometimes wash my hands over a bucket and use that for flushing. It's not more than 1 liter every 1-3 days, but every bit counts.

I've also been fighting a leaking toilet seal, which it turns out can never be closed completely, but I've found out how to make it leak less. That toilet is the first thing on the replacement list for next year's renovation.

EDIT: Maybe I should add that not all showers happen at home (swimming pool for me and squash at the sports center for Wife and me). This doesn't effect the reduction in water usage, as this has been going on for years, but three short showers per week should be added to our average consumption.

Last edited by Piwoslaw; 11-08-10 at 01:11 AM..
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Old 03-29-11, 08:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
I've also been fighting a leaking toilet seal, which it turns out can never be closed completely, but I've found out how to make it leak less. That toilet is the first thing on the replacement list for next year's renovation.
The toilet has been acting up recently. I put four lead weights on the flap so that it would leak less water, but sometimes it doesn't close properly and water would pour through at about 1-1.5 liters per minute. Unfortunately, Dad-in-law doesn't hear the water flowing, and our guests don't know that special attention is needed, so on a few occasions water was flowing all night This brought the 5 day average to as high as 450 liters/day, while normally we use 180-220 liters per day. This happened 3-4 times within two weeks, wasting about 800-1000 liters each time before someone noticed it in the morning. Below is a graph of our average daily consumption (10 day intervals):


These problems caused the spike in late Feb/early Mar, and brought our daily average for the preceding year (yellow line) from less than 210 to more than 220 liters per day

So the Wife and I decided that the toilet needs replacing now, and not during the renovation which won't happen any time soon. We wanted one of those low flow, dual flush (3/6 liters) compacts, but once we opened the box at home it turned out that it doesn't have a double button. Instead, it has a single button, which stops the flush if pressed a second time immediately after the first. Running back and forth between the bathroom and the water meter in the basement shows that a small flush (pressing twice) is about 3.5 liters and a big flush (pressing once) is 6.5 liters(*). I've lowered the bouy to cut the water earlier, it's probably down to 5.5 l now (the tank holds 7 liters).

No, wait! Here's a better idea: Instead of reducing the amount of water in the tank by lowering the bouy, I should raise the bouy higher and displace as much water as possible at the bottom. That way the flush is still smaller, but with more force, since more water is higher up, i.e. has more head. Gotta measure the inside dimensions and see what I can find.

* - No water was wasted during these tests. The water was flushed only when needed, that's why testing is taking so long...
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Old 03-29-11, 08:58 AM   #5
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Good idea. So, you really like the new toilet?
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Old 03-29-11, 09:08 AM   #6
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It uses slightly less water per flush, maybe I'll get it even lower, plus it doesn't leak and I don't have to check on it after each time someone else uses it. And it's just as comfy, so I'm happy Oh, and the Wife is happy too, not only because of the lower water consumption, but also because with it we got a new mirror, sink, and cabinet, all of which satisfy her artistic side
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Old 03-29-11, 07:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piwoslaw View Post
...mirror, sink, and cabinet, all of which satisfy her artistic side
There is a reason they refer to the mirror, sink and cabinet as "the vanity"...

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Old 03-31-11, 11:08 AM   #8
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So far I've put a half-liter bottle in the tank and have tweeked the partial/full flush to be as low as 2.9/5.5 liters. This, and the rain barrels being back in action after winter, should direct our water consumption back on a declining course (it's around 220 liters/day right now).

Slightly off topic: There was an article in today's newspaper about global water shortages, and I found out that the average Canadian uses 329 liters of water per day (for cooking, washing, etc., not including water needed to produce goods and food), while the average French household uses half the water of its Canadian counterpart. But water in Canada is four times cheaper than in France, so cheap in fact that "half of the Canadians polled didn't know how much they were paying for water", as the newspaper put it.

On the other hand, over 150 million people in third world countries have access to less than 100 liters per day, and over 1 billion have periodical problems with lack of water (drought at least 1 month per year). The problem will only get worse since global warming will make dry places even drier (most third world countries), plus by the year 2050 there will be an additional 3 billion people living in third world cities (cities are where water problems are the most pronounced).

All the more reason to get into the habit of saving...
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Old 04-04-11, 03:09 AM   #9
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Time to share our heating for the last two winters. Here's a graph of our daily gas usage in cubic meters (red line) and heating degree days (above 15.5C, yellow line), both averaged every 10 days:


My Wife's cousin lives next door and our gas meters are in the same box, so I record both to compare. The cousin's gas usage is the blue line on the graph above. Her house is larger than ours, but it is much newer (built 10-15 years ago, instead of over 40) so its insulation should be better. Well, it appears it's not, or they just don't care to save energy. I crunched some numbers for the last two heating seasons (Oct.01-Apr.01) and it turned out that there were slightly less (about 1%) heating degree days in 2010-2011 than in 2009-2010, and our gas consumption dropped by 11%, while the cousin's usage increased by 5%! Wow Here is the data:

Oct.01-Apr.01winter 2009-2010winter 2010-2011
HDD (15.5C)2732.82694.3
our gas usage
m3 (therms)
1736 (632)1561 (568)
cousin's gas usage
m3 (therms)
2288 (833)2400 (874)


Our 11% reduction is due mainly to keeping the house's temperature slightly lower, just enough to keep the Wife and Dad-in-law from complaining too much I'm pretty anal with the thermostat - switching to night mode 1-2 hours before leaving the house, keeping at a lower temp in the morning until Dad-in-law gets up, keep it cooler whenever I'm alone at home, not raising the temp if we're at home for only 1-2 hours, etc. The only ecorenovation was insulating our rood exit hatch. I noticed that there was much less condensation on it this winter, but I doubt that it made any noticible dent in our usage. I also set the boiler to a slightly higher temperature so that it on for a shorter time.

The cousin, on the other hand, didn't even reduce her house's temperature when they went skiing for over a week No wonder they're complaining about the gas bill
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Last edited by Piwoslaw; 04-04-11 at 07:13 AM..
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Old 04-04-11, 03:40 AM   #10
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And now for our electric consumption from the last 35 months:


The blue line is daily consumption (kWh) averaged over 10 days, the red is the daily average for the preceeding 6 months, and the yellow is for the preceeding year.

Most of the larger consumption reduction projects (super efficient refrigerator, CFL lights, power strips on all electronics, etc.) were done just before I started logging data, so the graph starts at an already lowered level.

Noticed how the annual (yellow) consumption starts to rise in mid-2009 and then plummets a year later? Well, here's the story: Around August 2009 Dad-in-law decided to replace our driveway gate to open automatically. A year later I find out that the motor is sucking more than 30 watts 24/7! It was pulling our consumption up so much that other attempts to save electricity went unnoticed. So since mid-2010 I've been flipping its circuit breaker off unless needed and that really makes a difference. Unfortunately, Dad-in-law can't be forced to cooperate, so it's up to me to make sure the gate is not unpowered when he needs it, so I flip it on each time I leave the house for more than 10 minutes. At the moment it's off about 70% of the time.

As mentioned in the previous post, the central heating boiler is set to a higher temperature. This means that it and its 100 watt circulation pump are on for less time before the thermostat turns it off. I'm not sure if this makes any difference, it's probably not more than 20-50 Wh per day.

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