Jack, a SFPUC technician came to our house for a Water-Wise Evaluation. You get lots of free stuff, shower heads, faucet aerators, hose nozzles, toilet flaps….. Plus a detailed inspection of your water usage. I did pick up most of these things for free at the SFPUC main office, but you can only get the hose nozzle from a home visit.)
The SFPUC is asking customers to cut down water use by 10%, based on a baseline set on your use in 2013. He also let me know in his experience the most common household leaks are toilets, 75% of the time, then irrigation (PVC pipes leaks), then underground leaks in water pipes. Also, always run full loads in dishwasher and washing machine.
Here is what he found:
Bathroom Sink upstairs - Currently at 1.5 gallons per minute aerator (I bought online years ago)
He offered me a lower aerators to try, .5 or 1 gallon per minute.
Shower upstairs has a showerhead of 1.5 gallons per min. Two gallons per min is the average shower head. I do not need to change this as SFPUC gives out same level showerhead.
Upstairs toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush. (High efficiency toilets use close to 1 gallon)
Jack showed me how I can easily lower the tank water level to one inch from the top of the tube in the tank, saving me 1/5 gallon per flush. It was a simple squeeze and lower of a metal tab. He also checked by toilet for leaks with a blue dye. (Jack mentioned that sometimes, even if toilet passes a blue dye test, there can still be a leak so it is important to listen for sounds of running water.)
Bathtub holds 50 gallons! Perfect place for us to harvest grey water.
Dishwasher, Kitchenaid uses 5 gallons of water a load. Jack says always run full load! It would be interesting to see how many gallons of water we would use to wash the same load. Growing up in the desert we never let the faucet run while washing dishes but all my East Coast people just let that faucet run the entire time!
I picked up our kitchen sink faucet aerator from the SFPUC, rated at 1.5 gallons per min. Jack had a lower one but without the swivel and flow adjust feature (which I thought was just for on and off after the temp had been adjusted.) So we are not going to go switch it out.
Ancient top loading washing machine uses around 40-50 gallons a load. We do 4 loads a week! SFPUC offers a $150 rebate for a new front loading machine what will drop water use down to 30 to 15 gallons per load. Since our yard is too small, we are not a great candidate for Laundry to Landscape grey water system. So the best bet for us is to just replace the washing machine.
Downstairs showerhead’s water rate was not clearly marked so Jack took a reading with a fancy plastic bag. Fill bag for for 5 seconds, take 3 tests and then average….our shower head is 1 .2 gallons per minute. He also mentioned that rate can be lower than what the device states due to blockage in the pipe or holes.
Really old toilet downstairs uses 3.5 gallons per flush! No! Definitely need to get the SFPUC rebate $125 per toilet. Jack did show me how to lower the tank level an inch by lowering the bulb (you can spin some screws and if that doesn’t work just bend the metal bar to the bulb.)
Jack notes, if moisture came me found around the toilet base then there could be a crack in the waxing - leaking black water! And damaging the floor. It might not smell. Can be caused from standing on the toilet. Yikes!
Garden, average hose flow is 15 gallons per minute, so best to use a nozzle.
Jack’s Final Recommendations:
Change old toilet downstairs that uses a whopping 3.5 gallons! Rebate!
Replace top loading washing machine. Rebate!
Set the drip for every other day.
Install lower aerators on sinks.
Lower tank water levels.
If we make all these changes,we could lower our useage to 1 to 2 units and then we can lower our monthly bill by $200-400 a year.
I did find it confusing that Jack and the water bill measure water in units of cubic feet. There are 7.48 gallons in 1 cubic foot. Or 1 Unit = 1 Ccf of water = 748 gallons. Easy right? Not!
Why not keep measurements/bills in gallons? All customers, including renters should have access to their water usage. And heck, why not make all bills public?
Near Future water saving plans.
Check out this amazing greywater sink you can install over your toilet. I am putting this on my wish list. My daughter's preschool had a toilet that was designed to this but I didn't realize that you could get this attachment to transform and toilet your into a grey water super hero. Sink Positive makes them for about $120
Raised a feral hippy child in New Mexico, this dumpster diving compost lover wants to help green your home.