Now that the water system is set up, and we have running water at the faucets (hot or cold), we needed to find out what exactly we could do around the house with this running water. What I mean is, we have LIMITED running water, the tank only holds 150 gallons and we are still toting it in about 25 gal at a time in 5 gal containers. So my husband asked me to find out what some basic tasks around the house use water-wise. Including the machines we have to help us (dishwasher and washing machine). No problem (I thought).
I started with bathing the girls. It took about 6 gallons to give them both a very quick shower, including washing their hair, but without conditioning it. That’s not bad at all! It took 6 gallons for me to take the same quick shower. Very reasonable. Now on to the machines.
I went to the water tank to check how much water we had, then went to the washer, turned it to the very smallest load setting, threw in a small load of laundry, started it and went about my work not thinking much about it. Later, when the load was done and I went back to the tank to check how much water it used, I almost fell over dead with shock. To do the VERY smallest load in my standard top-load washer it took 25 gallons of water!!!
Numbers began flying through my mind….a full load probably takes 50 gallons…I do about 8 loads a week usually…that is 400 gallons a week I use JUST for laundry…that is 20,800 gallons a year!!! And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. How spoiled I am. I have lived my entire life with unlimited running water and it had never really occurred to me how much I was using every day. I have been to third world countries and seen people toting jerry cans of water 3 miles from the well to their hut for their daily use. When I saw that I felt overwhelmed in many ways, and I was thankful for the fact that I had running clean water, and wished I could give it to everyone, but still it had never occurred to me HOW MUCH I used each day. I had heard of front load washers, high-efficiency washers, energy saver appliances, but I never thought about how much water they saved. I figured it couldn’t be THAT much water. Not enough to make it worth it to get rid of my old appliance and go buy an expensive new one. But now, I HAD to find out.
I got online immediately and started searching, to find out how much water everything takes, and how much the energy saver and high-efficiency appliances saved.
How Much Water it Takes To:
Run a full load in an average top-load washing machine…40-50 gallons
Run a full load in a front load high-efficiency machine…25 gallons
Run an average dishwasher…10-15 gallons
Run an energy saver dishwasher…4.5 gallons
Flush an older toilet…5 gallons
Flush a new toilet…1.6 gallons
So now what?
Well, doing our own laundry is quite a big deal until we are hooked back up to utilities (but my aunt said she would keep doing it if we needed), but even when we have utilities I am going to have a hard time doing a load without feeling the fact that we are wasting so much water. I mean, it took 6 gallons to get a human clean, and yet it takes 25 gallons to get 3 shirts clean? That is absurd. We both think we need to be seriously considering getting a front-loading high-efficiency washer. When we used my father’s FL washer last year on our vacation, I was able to fit twice as much in one load and get it clean than I could here with ours. So not only does it use half the water, it takes in twice the clothing. So that really multiplies the savings. I could do 4 loads a week instead of 8. We really need to consider this and find a way to make it happen.
As far as dishes go, it isn’t that big of a deal. I can just do them by hand and use the dishwasher as a large drying rack. I would say I can do the same amount of dishes as one load in the dishwasher, by hand, using only about 3-5 gallons of water.
And lastly, the toilet. This is an interesting dilemma with 6 people in the house. I have been trying to guess how many flushes we do in a day. I am guessing 4-5 each, so 24-30/day. That is 120-150 gal/day. That means even when we get our sewer back but not our water (which is how it is going to happen – sewer will be fixed first and then water), it would take our entire water storage tank of water just to flush each day. That wont work at all. I wonder how much we can cut it down by doing the “if its yellow don’t flush until 3 times” rule. Probably down to 12-15 flushes a day. That would be 60-75 gal. Who would have thought that half of our water tank would go to toilet flushing each day?
Did you already know this? Am I the only person who was completely in the dark about water usage? It is amazing how many things this flooding disaster has changed in our lives, and in this case, brought to light.