Water saving measures actually save water!

In late June, I posted about living in a water shortage and about the new measures we were taking to save water. I have to admit that for some reason I never think what I do actually makes a difference. I don't actually USE electricity when I leave the light on in the bathroom, do I? The fridge doesn't actually get dirty if I don't clean it, right? (Er, don't answer those questions.)

But since we started taking some simple measures to save water, this happened to our water bill:

Now take into consideration the fact that Hebrew goes from right to left, and look at that bill again.

That's right.. we went from using more than 20 cubic meters of water every two months (for just two people-- yikes) to using, recently, just 10. We literally used half the water in September-October this year compared to September-October last year. I'd call that results!

These are some of the things we started to do differently... I'm going to be really honest here, so I'm sorry if this means you no longer want to sit next to me on a bus or set foot in our apartment. :)

1. We don't flush our toilet every time. You know, "if it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, wash it down." When I do flush, I always use the little "half-tank" lever rather than the big "full-tank" lever. (Israeli toilets have two different flush settings.) Yes, letting yellow mellow is a little gross, but on the plus side it has made me much better about remembering to put the toilet lid down. (Putting the top lid down was a really hard skill for me to learn. I have much more appreciation for my husband's consistency in putting the seat down now!) This alone saves a TON of water, especially because I work from home and have a notoriously small bladder. Isn't it insane how much treated, cleaned, potable drinking water we just flush down every day? We started being strict about not flushing in the spring of this year, and you can see the difference in our water usage. In our next apartment, we're going to hook up our toilet so that we can flush using the "gray" water we collect from our shower. Which brings me to...

2. We save water from our shower, mostly just from that cold water that runs as we wait for the hot water to arrive. We put this water into buckets and use it for things like watering plants and mopping the floor. Again, it's insane just how much perfectly good water we were throwing away. I end up with more water than I know what to do with.

3. We take quick showers and turn off the water while soaping up. I don't shower every day, or if I need to shower every day, I don't always wash my hair. Yes, I know this sounds really gross. But showering every day isn't actually healthy for your skin-- it strips your body of natural oils. I once heard a beauty expert (an expert!) liken washing hair every day to scrubbing a delicate silk blouse daily. I don't smell bad, really! (Aren't you glad you interact with me via the Internet, not in person?) Once again, this saves a TON of perfectly good drinking water.

4. I wash dishes like an Israeli Follow the link to learn how. I've now started to put all my dishes in the sink when I rinse off the soap, so the water rinsed off one dish starts to clean the next. I'm thinking now that I can start collecting that mostly-clean water in a bin and use it to soak my dishes for next time. I don't have a dishwasher, so this is the best I can do for now. I'm trying to convince my husband that we never need to wash dishes at all... imagine how much water we'd save. (I'm kidding! Mostly. Some of you suggested switching to plastic plates to save water, but because our shortage is year-round, I think we'd do more harm to environment than good that way.)

5. I don't do silly things like wash my sheets every week or my jeans and sweaters every day. It's for the Kinneret, people.

Now that it's winter, we need to make even more effort to saving water so that we have water to use next summer. 2.5 cubic meters per person per month still sounds like a lot, though, and I want to try to cut our water usage down more. Any suggestions? What do you do to save water? How much water do you use each month?


  1. For those of you attempting to do the conversion, 10 cubic meters = 353 cubic feet and 2640 gallons. My bill IS in cubic meters, right?

  2. Way to go! How nice to see that effort actually pays off :)

  3. Wonderful to see that all your water-saving methods are really paying off!!! Great view of your water bill :-). Let's see, back when I was a kid growing up outside of NYC, there were a couple of really bad drought years, and the reservoirs were very low-- the suggestion back then was always 'Shower with a Friend' :-).

    We solved one of our major water problems here on the farm, when your brother Jesse realized that there was a small spraying leak in the pipes under your old little cottage!! Wonder how long that had been going on?? We haven't lost our spring water since fixing that-- and our draconian strict water-saving measures (similar flushing rules, basically banning showers for all the teens, unless they turned off water while 'soaping up', etc...) over our big party weekend last May (probably 30 spending the night... 70 or more here on Saturday evening..) got us through that one safely too :-).

    Ima in America

  4. Impressive chart! We've been taking similar measures the last couple of years and it really feels good to not waste so much water.

    I do want to point out however that household consumption usage accounts for only half the total consumption in Israel. A big fat portion (over 40%) goes to agriculture - to this day the government still subsidizes vast amounts of water to support growing (and exporting!) water-rich crops such as cucumbers, watermelons etc. Israel is effectively exporting away its water for the sake of maintaining the Zionist dream of flowering the desert (or, in reality, appeasing the powerful agricultural lobby). Not to mention the miles and miles of leaky, rusty pipes not being maintained because of the stranglehold another politically powerful organization, the National Water Company (mekorot), has on policy makers.

    The result is that water saving measures are always preached to the general population, and while undeniably important, it is equally important to remember the politics that are at work behind the scenes.

    (sorry to always be the spoilsport around here ;)

  5. There is a way to hook up your washing machine so that the dirty water flows out to a pipe that goes down to a barrel in the yeard for watering flowers etc. Research shows ordinary washing machine dirty water is fine for plants (maybe not bleach though).

  6. Doron, I do agree. It's ok to be the spoilsport if you have insightful things to say. :) I was really shocked when I got here that our CITY has such bad sprinkler systems watering the sidewalk and parked cars and tree trunks and the little bit of grass in the area between lanes of a road... this was when Bar Rafaeli was on TV telling us that we don't have a drop to spare.

  7. P.S. Anonymous, that's another great idea. I don't have my own yard, but someday I want to set up a system like that. A lot of people also have their showers directly connected to their toilets. Won't it be great if houses are someday designed this way automatically?

  8. That is really cool! How rewarding it is to discover that small changes really can make a positive impact.

  9. I think your cubic meters are in hundreds of cubic meters. In the US we use CCF (hundred of cubic feet) 1 CCF is 748 gallons. Is your bill coming to 22 gallons a person per day? What is considered "Normal" or good? I am trying to see how we compare and not finding any useful data.

  10. Actually, I'm fairly certain my numbers are in cubic meters. One cubic meter = more than 35 cubic feet (because we're talking about more than three feet per meter, cubed), so I think it would only make sense for us to use cubic meters rather than hundreds of cubic meters (each one would be 3500 cubic feet). One cubic meter equals 264 gallons. I guess this does mean that we still use about 22 gallons of water per person day, which still sounds like a lot. However, according to this US site, the average water use per person (per capita) is 69 gallons per day, so 22 gallons per day isn't bad: http://www.drinktap.org/consumerdnn/Home/WaterInformation/Conservation/WaterUseStatistics/tabid/85/Default.aspx (The site indicates that most water use comes from flushing toilets, washing clothes, and showering, which is exactly what we found.)

  11. Here are some water-saving ideas I came up with when I lived in a rural area in Texas where my only water source was a pond. I still do most of these things, even though I now have a well on the farm and municipal water in the city. We have frequent droughts here, and water is becoming more scarce every year. I wash dishes the way you describe, but rinse them in a large bowl and use the rinse water on the garden. On the farm, I have a composting toilet that does not use water except to clean the receptacle periodically. All water from washing dishes, clothes, and bathing goes to the garden. Use lots of compost in the garden to conserve water in the soil. Do not wash my car. Wash clothing and linens only when they are dirty (most Americans seem to wash things even if they are not actually dirty).

    I try to keep up with the research that is being done in Israel on drought-resistant food crops. Also greatly appreciate low-chill apple varieties developed in Israel. The climate here in Texas is relatively warm in the winter with cold spells lasting a few days at a time; very hot, dry summers, temps often going above 37C.

  12. Wash fruits and vegetable in a bowl in the sink instead of letting the water stream down on them. Use the water for various things after i.e water garden, wash counter tops, rinse dishes pre dishwasher,

  13. This link, will give you few ideas, which can help you to prevent huge water losses if you have an emergency. Of course, they not as radical as your efforts but it still can be useful. I hope you like it - http://www.home-repairs-tips.com/2010/03/water-saving-tips-cheap-and-easy.html

  14. i linked to you on my lastest post.


Related Posts with Thumbnails