Saturday, February 21, 2009

Water conservation in the urban jungle

Just got my first combined water/solid waste management bill from the city. I suspected this latest bill wouldn't be high: I have the smallest garbage bin, for which I get a $10 rebate per year (this billing cycle, the first of three annually, amounted to minus $2.95). The water portion was $27.87, and since I still had a credit from my payment of July 2007 (yes, 2007), my total utility bill is MINUS $18.70.

I was paying about $350 a year just for water and the privilege of 1920s water pressure---don't flush the toilet while trying to wash your hands, and forget trying to take a shower while the water sprinkler is on. I got my water pipe remediation (replacement pipe from main to property line for free from the city) in August 2007, right after I paid the July-to-January water bill. I paid $800 to the exclusive city contractor to install the water meter and the outdoor "reader" and the big copper pipe from the property line into the house, so that expense has pretty much already paid for itself in lower water bills due to actual use.

Add to that the American Standard high-efficiency toilet (HET) at 4.6 liters or less per flush ($75 rebate from city), low-flow Water Magic(TM) shower head, front-loading clothes washer (uses 1/4 the water of a top loader; $65 rebate from city), and faucet aerators. And I have good water pressure all the time---I can take a shower while the dishwasher or clothes washer is running.

BTW, the Water Magic site is here: . There's a lever on the showerhead you can use to shut off the water flow while you lather up, but if you still have low water pressure be prepared for a blast of very hot water when you turn it back on! The web pages are slow to load, so be patient. I see that the site hasn't been updated in a while. And ignore the typos (saing instead of saving, signle instead of single). I did...

I got my shower head (Item Number: 701C, still $35 CA on the website) at the Royal Winter Fair market place a few years ago for $35 CA, and they were selling it at a booth at the Green Living show this year for the same price. Their demo is convincing! And the booth rep said she'd heard that the shower shut-off wasn't recommended if the water pressure is low.

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