clothes lines, water, etc. Economics&Conservation

behaviorkeltonJuly 29, 2008

I think the general economic and energy anxieties have fueled my own interest in discovering easy ways to save and conserve.

Of course, one could spend quite a bit on energy-saving tech.. but that is VERY expensive. I'm interested in the easy stuff, and I think I have found some significant tricks if you can tolerate the mini-hassles of it.

#1. Ok, so we have discussed clothes lines. BTW, I think that it not only saves energy, a bit of utility $$$, and wear and tear on the dryer... but is it possible that it saves wear on your clothes? Tumbling around in that dryer for 40 minutes seems brutal!

#2. Water --> my bucket method:

My central a/c cranks out lots of condensation... like 3 gallons a day on a hot day.

When I shower, I waste about two gallons running the water as I wait for it to get warm...and I shower twice daily.

Also in the shower, I spend a lot of time soaping up as clean water uselessly gushes from the shower head. That has got to be at least 8 gallons... probably more.

So we're already talking about 13+ gallons of water that can be captured *daily*.

390 gallons a month!

In addition: somewhere around 10 gallons of grey water comes out of the rinse cycle of my washer... now we're up to well over 400 gallons.

So I have been using my own willy nilly method of capturing this stuff and re-using it. Very primitive

I keep a bucket under the A/C condensation hose, a bucket under the shower spigot as I wait for it to turn warm, and a bucket that can capture the rinse water from my washing machine.

When I flush the toilet, I use this water to refill the tank rather than using the usual fresh clean water. It is truly ridiculous to use *drinking water* to transport human waste!

Already, in one easy step I created a toilet that uses recycled (and free) water that would have otherwise been wasted. In effect, the toilet is now a zero-gallon toilet.

I use the most biodegradable soaps I can find for my clothes.

The rest of the captured water can be used for watering my newly planted sapling trees(I generally use my cleanest water for that), or soaping up the car when I wash it.

In the shower itself, I have decided to just turn off the water when it comes down to soap/lather time. This probably shortens the "water-running" time by 75%!... in addition, I try to be quick when I rinse off.

There are many shower heads that have a "trickle" mode that makes it even easier to do this. You just press a button and the water just dribbles out as you lather up.

This won't be as easy in the winter because standing in a shower, all wet, with no steaming water flowing would be tough if the air is chilled!

Washing dishes, I am now using one of those plastic tubs in the sink like my grandma used. I allow the tub to gradually fill with dirty dish rinse/soap water. This is the water I use to soak dishes, scrub the big stuff off, and only then do I allow clean water to run for the final rinse. (Is this the reason for "the sink tub" in the first place?). Formerly, I just blasted the clean water throughout the whole deal.

With this low-tech, ghetto conservation method, I am guessing that I have cut my own water usage by well over 60% if not much more.

In my area, it is water, not electricity, that is so very expensive. Sewage costs are based on water usage and the sewage costs are big around here... and this is what makes water so costly.

I have been engaged in this practice for about a month and a half, and I get better at my technique with each passing day... so I am interested in seeing the upcoming utility bills.

My live-in girlfriend is tolerating this method of mine fairly well... although she hasn't adopted my no-water-lathering method!

For some reason, this deal is kind of entertaining!

Next, I'm am going to try to practice Hypermiling.

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Most central a/c units drain condensate into the household sewer via a toilet vent stack or some such. Drippage from the exposed drain line outside is due to the normal drain line being clogged and typically indicates a problem is happening.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 4:17PM
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dadoes, i have had 3 homes with central air, and installed 2 new central air systems during that time, and ALL had the condensation lines either drip out into a gutter or sump pump..There is also an overflow line to which you speak that drips "over" the gutter to let you know the main condensation line is indeed blocked..I know of zero homes that have the condensation line drip into sewer line,probably for this purpose..If you get a reverse syphon situation the sewage would get into your AC sytem, for this reason, i bet it is illegal to do so

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:45AM
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Do I remember correctly that using a dishwasher uses less water than hand-washing dishes? We have Fisher Paykel dishdrawers that use very little water (or detergent). Breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes for two fit in one drawer and get washed once a day, using a light cycle. Heavily soiled pots could go in the second drawer on a longer cycle, but I usually hand wash those.

My 'cheapo' Frigidaire front-load washer uses *very* little water or soap and has a choice of short cycles for lightly soiled clothes.

I like the 'water off' soaping in the shower idea -- in summer. LOL DH uses the shower. My tub is only 2' X 4' inside and I fill it about 6" - 8" deep. Anybody know how many gallons that is?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 11:21AM
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Dadoes, I spoke to my DH after reading your post. He's be a HVAC contractor for 40 years. Your method is illegal in all 50 states.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 2:03PM
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1 cubic foot = 7.5 gallons
2ft x 4ft x 0.5ft = 4 cubic feet

soo... 30 gallons for 6 inch depth

Here is a link that might be useful: as for the dishwashing

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 5:31PM
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I have an electric pump that collects the condensation and then pumps it to an outside line.

For me, I have that line going into a bucket.

When I first bought the house, I asked the a/c guy why he didn't just run the line into a nearby sewage drain. He said that it would be illegal.... stressing the city sewer system.

It has been very humid and hot over the past few days here in Tennessee ... after having an amazingly cool July... so now it seems that I'm getting over 6 gallons a day from the a/c.

I never have enough dishes for a dishwasher. I have heard that dishwashers use less water than hand washing, but it's hard to believe. I try to be pretty darn conservative! Further, I rarely make greasy foods, so the stuff I wash cleans off real easy... so it doesn't require that I use a flood of water to get the job done.

To tell you the truth, I use one specific plate for myself (or one specific bowl)... when I'm done, the dog gets to lick it clean. Then, when I wash, I am washing a plate with nothing visible to clean off... just need to wash the plate of the dog's "wetness".

I use the same plate/bowl so that I don't expose my guests to me and my dog's little secret!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 5:40PM
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quirk -- Thanks for the math! Would you mind running the numbers for water used in the shower -- with one non-water-saving spray head, excellent water presure, for...oh 5 minutes? (I'm afraid of the big old dark basement, where the water meter is located. There are spiders down there!)

Interesting stats on dishwashers. I feel reasonably green about using ours. (The study didn't consider arthritis, chapped hands or hand lotion. Or the use of pets for pre-wash!)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 12:26PM
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haha chisue-- sometimes it's easier to do the math, sometimes it's easier to just measure it. if you **really** want to know...
1 take bucket and timer to bathroom
2 set timer for... oh, how about 15 seconds
3 start shower.
4 stick bucket under showerhead. be sure bucket catches entire flow. simultaneously start timer.
5 when timer alarms, remove bucket from shower. turn off shower
6 measure amount of water in bucket. multiply x 4 to get volume of water used per minute. multiply that x 5 to get volume of water used in 5 minutes.

(you could let it run for the full 5 minutes and not do any math, but you'd need a big bucket and it would get really heavy...)

(i know, i'm a geek)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 2:58PM
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OK, ok, I'll get the bucket. Geez. Here I was all into the math stuff, having just watched "21" on DVD. LOL

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 5:46PM
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this is what you get for asking an engineer... what's the cliche? ask for the time, get a lesson on how to build a watch? ;-)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:44PM
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Guess what was in my morning paper? There was a story on water conservation that said showers run 5 - 8 gallons per minute. Guess I still have to get the bucket, but we have such great water pressure that I'm betting my tub use *saves* water.

quirk -- Have you read the post about 'Building a House' where the engineering student asks if he is 'to young' to build?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 6:14PM
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Our two central A/C units drain the condensate outside the house into a rainbarrel. This water is used to top off the pool.

We line dry most clothes. We bathe rather than shower, but unless we are really grungy, we share the bathwater.

When we built this home 18 years ago, our county flat-out refused to consider our gray-water recycling system. We're still ticked off, LOL, especially since it is now allowed, but retrofitting a sensible system is not cost effective.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:24PM
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chisue- i have now.



Engineers are weird. And engineering students... sigh.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:14PM
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