Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Knowledge Is Power

Before you read this, can you answer this question: How much water does your household consume in a day?

Over at my favorite blog, Clean Break, The Other Tyler Hamilton writes about wanting a better history of his household power consumption. I agree. I also agree it is highly likely energy companies already have this data. And why not provide it? Is it too confusing for us dumb consumers? Would it generate too many phone calls for customer service? One helpful commenter to the post offers a more literal than usual, “Knowledge is power.”

I processed my water bill this week. I was shocked and awed to find that my household water consumption is 169 gallons a day! A day! A day! And I didn’t water my lawn a single time this month. To my knowledge, this is the first time the information has been provided. I have no idea how this number relates to my neighbor's (here’s your chance to help), but I do know I’m well short of the 1,233 gallons per day point where I’d incur a consumption penalty. Still, 168 hours in a week, minus 47.5 hours away at school and work, minus 63 hours asleep, that's 57.5 hours at home where we consume 20.5 gallons an hour.

I can’t remember where, but I read once that if the whole city (any city) were to leave for vacation, the number of gallons of water still consumed by the empty city would be staggering. How many leaky toilets do you have?

I think I’ll make some phone calls to my utility companies tomorrow.


George said...

That seems like alot of water, but then again-I have no idea how much we (family of 4) use.

Maybe it's time I took a look.

Matt said...

I just happen to have my water bill with me. It measures water in units, which are 100 cu. feet, or 748 gallons. The usages are for three-month periods but just say 13 or 14 units, not 13.2 or anything. The bill does show the number of days in the measurement period. Our current bill reflects 112 gallons/day, the prior period was 119 gallons/day and last year was 108 gallons/day. We are two adults and two kids, 12 and 14, and a cat who drinks out of the toilet. That does seem like a lot of water--I'm guessing a lot of it is toilet flushing, with older toilets rather than new low-flow ones.

My bill for all this is $58.17 all-in (water, sewer and a Metropolitan Council Environmental fee), or $0.00598 per gallon. At that rate, a bottle of Dasani or Evian ought to cost less than 1/10th of a cent.

When it's this cheap, it hardly encourages conservation--if half the water usage is toilet flushing, and half of that could be reduced by putting in new low-flow toilets, it would save me maybe 3 units a period, or about $16 every three months. I'm not sure what the cost of 2 new toilets would be, installed, but have a feeling the payback would take a long time.

eayste said...

Our water and Sewer bill is about $10 a month.
Family of 3 . 2 females , 1 male.

Kassie said...

I don't get a water bill, so I have no idea how much I use. I do know this though. I live in a building with 25 units and I'm on the board. Last year our water bills were something like $1100 a month. It was outrageous. We sent plumbers through each unit and they put new toilet flaps in almost all the units bathrooms and fixed any other leaks. In one month we dropped out water bill down to about $700.

Keeping up on leaky toilets is a major saver and flappers are really cheap.