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How Much Water Do I Use?

in Case Study

Water Usage a case study

I received my water bill from the City of Ottawa yesterday, and when I opened it, I was surprised. This bill was approximately 50% less than what I normally paid for my water bill. I scratched my head a little and assumed this might be due to a shorter billing period or something, but I then checked the bill itself and saw that the bill was for 72 days (normally I get billed for around 2 months), which is in fact the longest billing period for the last few water bills.

My wife was surprised by this result as well, but we both agreed that this is most likely due to the fact that we purchased a new front load washing machine in December (that only got delivered in February remember that was Chutzpah!). This water billing period was the first full one with the new washer and dryer set up.

Given how much my water bill dropped I think it points out:

  • How much water my old washing machine used, and how little my new one uses.
  • How many loads of laundry get done in my house

Washing Machine Usage

The second point is actually the interesting one to think of. When my daughters decide to wash their basketball uniforms (an incredibly small load), a large amount of water was used in my old washing machine, whereas my new one seems to figure out that only a small amount of water is needed and thus it saves water. I would guess these small loads are where my big savings on water is, given they seem to be the majority of the loads being done by my family. Yes, we do “large” loads as well, but there continues to be a constant dirge of daily small loads being done as well.

Seeing this drop in my bill made me happy, until I heard that the City of Ottawa is now considering a different billing methodology to ensure they make enough money to support the sewer/water infrastructure, sort of penalizing those who don’t use much water, by making them pay a minimum amount, even if they don’t use the minimum amount.

Historical Precedent

This billing issue reminded me of my Grandfather who lived in a small cottage in Wales. The house itself was heated with a small coal stove in the Kitchen, and while there was electrical wiring throughout the house, my Grandfather stoically refused to use much electricity to the point where one month the meter reader came by and told my Grandfather that the Electric Company owed my Grandfather 20p, because the meter had actually run backward that month.

Now this is a plausible story of thrift (or cheapness depending on your point of view), since the meter’s wheel is spring loaded so it might spin backwards if it had no resistance, but more likely than not the previous month’s reading was wrong, but still a fun story.

Could I live with little or no electricity? No not at all, but I do try to turn off as many devices as I can (but then again many devices are never truly off either). I do wander the house turning off lights and heaters, which hopefully saves me a few bucks over the year, but are there other ways to save money?

Question:What ways do you try to save on your utility bills?

{ 5 comments }

  • William April 25, 2010, 4:31 AM

    @Brad,
    When we bought our house we had that issue. Enmax hadn’t been in 18months to check the meter, we reported our readings on the first day (I do it monthly as part of maintenance, drain a little from the water heater, vacuum the filter, report the meter). Anyway, we got billed for 1.5megawatts for the first 15 days. I flipped but they made us pay it, threatening to cut us off. After three months it got resolved, turns out they’re required by law to come once or twice a year (can’t remember) to verify it, if they don’t, they’re stuck on the hook for it.

    Reply
  • Brad April 16, 2010, 1:50 PM

    We had a big stink in Calgary last week over Enmax/Direct Energy using estimates to bill people for month (some we for years!). Then, they read the meter and sent our huge bills to these people.

    I’d verify your meter reading, just to be on the safe side!

    Reply
  • 2Hirondelles April 15, 2010, 6:13 PM

    Well, hearing that about the City of Ottawa ticks me off, since we’re very conservative in our water use as well. We’ve had a front-load washer for a couple years. We love it. We dropped from .3 cu m to .2 as a daily average and it LOVES big loads.

    For utility savings, we have our set-back temp at 16C, and drop the house to 13 if we go away for several days. In the summer, the fan on the furnace gets turned off and the A/C only gets used on the very hottest days, from the time we get home until we go to bed, so that we can at least fall asleep comfortably.

    The only light that stays on 24/7 is the small fluorescent over the sink in the kitchen. Everything else is limited to the room we’re in.

    When we renovated a few years ago, we added 1.5″ foam insulation to the exterior of the house and changed all the windows to low-E, installed with low-expansion foam. We did the same with the doors, and insulated the garage as well. Of course, this was before the government started offering rebates – we’re lucky that way!

    Reply

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