Saturday, April 12, 2014

Harvesting The Rain

One night I was at home watching shows and videos online. I came across a TLC show Extreme Cheapskates, which I hadn't watched because I lack cable but had heard about. I came upon a clip of a man who was very modest with his water use to the point of harvesting rain water and saving lightly used water for a second go around as brown water in the toilet tank. A few weeks later I spoke to a coworker about the same thing. Then a few days later on the way to work I heard a morning show on the radio talk about a woman a town over from me in Cape Coral, Florida who was harvesting rainwater, didn't have her home plugged in to the electrical grid, and only used basic plumbing from the city infrastructure for sewerage. 

I was much money would I save by being more frugal with my water usage? It was time to start experimenting. 

It's our dry season during the winter months here, so this may not have been the best time to try this, but I did. When it rained I set out a storage tub and some buckets and pails where rain falls without the aid of a gutter. The first time I did this getting the water in the house was a challenge. I've since figured out a better method. Submerge a plastic kitty liter container in the large storage tote and reseal it, empty in to multiple containers in your shower, repeat until you have an amount you're comfortable with in the house. We have two cats and as we go through kitty litter I'll be saving these and hope to only use the resealable containers eventually.

Place your buckets etc in the tub, then fill them using the resealable tubs as your transport. Less spills this way.

Next, turn off the water supply to the toilet's tank. 

When you flush the toilet the water in the tank drains in to the bowl and pushes what's in there down the drain. If the water is off the tank will not refill. This is where you put the water in after each flush. 

The toilets in my house are newer models that use about 1.6 gallons per flush. You can see some brown writing on the back wall of the inside of the tank, this usually tells you how much water the toilet uses per flush. If you're curious lift the tank top off and check out how much water is used per flush. It's kind of amazing to think about. Say you flush 3 times per day per person, multiple by 7 days for a week, or 30 for your average month. It's a lot of water.

We've been doing this for three months now. Our method isn't fancy, but it works. We did this for three days over a weekend with water from a good rain - rain is hard to come by in Winter in SWFL - and we saved about a fifth of our average water bill. I also realize the weekends are when we're home the most. So by not flushing for #1 we are able to minimize our flushes. I've also started to use the 'family cloth' method for #1 only and only when I'm on a non complicated time of the month - ladies you know what I'm talking about. It saves on toilet paper and helps avoid clogs that would require calling a plumber. I have about 4 old face clothes I use for this. They get thrown in with the regular wash. 

Between the cost savings on toilet paper and water use we've cut down our need for toilet paper and lowered out utility bill on water by 1/4 to 1/5 by using rain water one weekend or more a month. I'm very excited to report back to you on the amount saved during the rainy season over the summer when rain is more abundant to harvest. 

Some people save shower water. This is a great idea, but if you have old pipes the shower water will help wash debris in the outflow toward the septic or sewer line. If you have older pipes I would say just let the shower water go down the drain. It may save you on clogs and plumber costs. 

Showers are also a place where you can save money. Take a Navy Shower. A navy shower is usually two minutes of running water. How to accomplish this? Get in, get wet, turn off the water, soap up, put your shampoo in etc, turn on, wash off, turn off, if you do conditioner or need to shave do it with the water off, turn it on to rinse off again and then be done. Sounds complicated? It's not. It's less of a spa experience, but it saves a lot on water. To simplify the showering business I'm also going to look out for more 2 in 1's for my hair when shopping in the future. 

Another use for rain water is in the yard. For example instead of weed whacking so much I use a grass and weed killer that is liquid based. I found it's cheaper to buy the concentrate and mix with water. Of course the amount I would need for the water would negate the water saved on my Navy showers, so instead I use the brown water from the roof run off. 

This is where I put the weed killer. It saves time and energy over weed whacking. If my 'flower bed' area looks funny it's because I'm redoing the yard to have more succulents and lower maintenance plants. I'll post more on that later. 

Thinking of how to save on bills by using a natural resource is pretty amazing. Of course there may be some compliance issues. If you're considering doing this verify that it's legal to harvest rain water where you live. Some states have made this illegal. Kind of crazy huh?  For us however, it's not illegal to harvest rain water in Florida at this time. So with our savings we can redirect the money saved to family fun, home improvements, and things we need. Being creative counts. Success!

<3 Ashley

No comments:

Post a Comment