Saving Water, Saving Cash
Australians have been through a lot with water, from extreme drought to almost non stop rainy weather. There has been lack and there has been abundance of water, and there will likely be both again. The people who fared best during times of absence were people who understood how best to conserve their water, and in the face of excess, those same people still fared best – because they saved hundreds of dollars a year on their water bills.
The following tips can turn you into an excellent water conserving machine, regardless of your current habits. Just keep in mind the basic rule, make the most of what you have.
Alright, let’s consider these tips!
Tip #1: Reducing your water pressure
When the need arose to conserve water, so did the growth of energy saving devices that can help reduce water flow by reducing water pressure. These devices can be applied to varying degrees, and often come with the reward of government rebate for those who choose to take advantage.
People may or may not be shocked to know this, but these devices can save up to 300 litres of water in a single week! With that kind of saving on the line, consider a water pressure reducing device.
Tip #2: Taking care of leaks FAST
This tip may seem obvious, but it’s necessary as a reminder. Lots of us put off taking care of leaks, and lose almost 100 litres of water a week for it! All that needs be done is find the source of the leak and repair it, and that water will be saved.
Tip #3: Only taking what you will use
Fill the bathtub to the point of comfort. Boil enough water to cook your food, not more. Make sure you’re boiling only a cup of tea if you’re only planning to drink a cup. These simple tips all revolve around taking only the water that will be used, and nothing more. They reflect a really easy way to save money, using what you need. You still get what you want done, but with less waste!
Tip #4: Reusing what you can
Not all water can be reused, but some of it can. Take the water you used to cook and pour it over the garden. Use the leftover water from tea to partially heat your bath. These again revolve around using what you need only, but have the added bonus of reducing waste – and your water bill!
Tip #5: Shorter showers
Short showers can be great in that they don’t require you to reduce your water pressure to make the most of water conservation. Hundreds of litres of water can be saved every single week by simply half filling the tub, or showering for five minutes instead of ten. Experiment with taking a shorter shower, and see what it does to your water bill!
Tip #6: Pick your timing carefully
It’s a well known fact of nature that watering in the morning serves your plants best. Keep this rule in mind for things like showers as well. Find out when prime time is to be using your water and avoid using it outside of this time. This simple act of organization can save hundreds and thousands of dollars, not to mention the water itself!
Tip #7: Using dry cleaning supplies where possible
A lot of people assume that they need hoses, mops, and dishcloths when they really could be using brooms, buckets, and dusters. This simple switch out makes it easier to conserve water, and cash.
Tip #8: Collecting rainwater
Rainwater tanks have become an increasingly popular way to ensure that you are doing your part to make the most of your water use. From ensuring that the indoor garden gets its share to conserving bath water, rainwater collection can be a natural way to conserve.
Tip #9: Wash the car with a bucket not a hose
People often waste a lot of water trying to wash their cars. The truth is that cars do not need to be cleaned nearly as often as people think, and even the cleaning process can be a lot dryer than most people are used to. Try and fill a bucket instead of using a hose, it’ll really drive home exactly how much water you need.
Tip #10: Use whatever you can to retain water
Mulch, rainwater collection barrels, even just a well run gutter can ensure that all the water that comes near you and your property gets used to its fullest capability. That’s the most you can do, make the most of what you have, and it will be enough to make a financial difference for you!
Make a list of the major energy items in your household
Whatever your living situation is, there are several items in your house that are probably on the “big ticket” end of the energy game. These items are frequently used, and cost more energy than other items. Let’s look at a list:
- Air conditioning units (depending on size) $534 per year
- Ceiling fans $11 per year
- Electric kettles $20 per year
- Water heater $593 per year (electric ones)
- Washers $78 per year
- Dryers $203 per year
These items each have ways to use them more efficiently, whether just by researching peak times and operating outside of them (as with the washer and dryer) or by replacing them with more energy efficient appliances that use power more effectively.
These statistics are also unable to track directly the cost to you of all the money you lose just by leaving things “on” (the coffee maker, the tv, the computer, and so on).
Consider energy efficiency items
Appliances, particularly older appliances, function as a huge drain on our energy resources. Recently people have been moving more and more openly toward the use of energy efficiency products.
But are they really so efficient?
The short answer is: that depends. Consider the following questions before you rush out to buy all new appliances.
Questions to assess your need
- Do you need the item? Could you do without it?
- Does it fit within your home?
- How long will you keep it?
- How will you get rid of it?
- What is its energy star rating?
- Will the higher cost of the item pay off in its savings int he long term?
Energy Star Ratings
Energy Star Ratings are an effective measurement of the energy efficiency of an item. Statistics have proved that using items like an energy efficient dishwasher can save you up to 30% on the running costs of that appliance every year.
Consider the ratings when purchasing a new item, and if you see an item that’s rated more efficiently, know that it will save you money in the long term.
Butter: Make butter go further by beating 500 grams of softened butter until it turns pale and then slowly adding 1.5 cups of extra light olive oil while still beating in a mixer. The mixture will be quite liquid but hardens up overnight in the fridge. Clean and save a couple of 500ml used margarine/butter containers and use those for your new whipped butter!
Milk: You can simply water down milk by adding 1 or 2 cups of water to 1 litre milk before you drink any. This can take some getting used to in taste but works well to save money. Alternatively you can mix in made up powdered milk to double your litre. Mix one litre of made up powdered milk into 1 litre of store bought milk to make it go further. Also use made up powdered milk for all your cooking.
Bread: If your family struggles getting through a loaf of bread before it turns mouldy, put half the loaf in the freezer, in two-slice portions, as soon as you buy it. Bread defrosts in minutes, or pop straight into the toaster and toast!
Olive Oil: Mix olive oil with half a vegetable oil to keep the cost down and make the oil go further. Olive oil is strong and will overpower the vegetable oil taste. This works great for sesame oil too!
Casseroles: Adding beans, lentils, rice, potatoes or noodles can stretch out a casserole and make it more filling. Also try making dumplings and adding them to the top of the casserole for the last 20 minutes or so. Bulking up casseroles and curries with extra vegetables such as an extra potato or sweet potato might then give you enough leftovers to make a few pasties to freeze for another day.
Dumpling Mixture Recipe
2 cups self raising flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp butter/margarine, melted
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup minced fresh herb leaves such as parsley, chives, and tarragon (optional)
Make the dumpling batter by whisking together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the chopped fresh herbs then pour in the melted butter and milk and mix gently with a wooden spoon until mixture just comes together. (Note: do not over mix or your dumplings will turn out too dense.)
Drop small tablespoon sized dumpling batter onto the surface of the simmering casserole. (The dumplings will easily double in size as they cook.) Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 15 – 20 minutes. Once you have covered the pan, do not uncover and peek while the dumplings are cooking! In order for the dumplings to be light and fluffy, they must steam, not boil.
Mince Dishes: Adding breadcrumbs and leftover vegetables to rissoles, meatloaves etc will make the meal go further. You only need about 150g of meat per adult for a healthy serving size and 100g per child.
Roast Chicken: It’s easy to get four meals out of one large roast chicken! (Buy the largest chicken you can, around 2kg) Night 1 = Roast Chicken Dinner, Night 2 = Chicken Curry or Chicken Salad, Night 3 = Chicken Soup, Night 4 = Chicken Pie
Fruit Juice: Fruit juice isn’t really a good choice to drink for yourself or your family but if you can’t do without it altogether try watering it down. Try one part juice to two parts water.
Cereal: Mixing together no name cereal with your favourite cereal will make it go a lot further and save you a lot of money.
Shampoo and Conditioner: Once you’ve used about 1/3 of your shampoo and conditioner just top it up with water and shake to combine.
Hand Wash: I have always diluted my hand wash by using the same method as for shampoo and conditioner. A dilution of two thirds hand wash to one third water. However now I’ve discovered foaming dispensers I’m saving even more! For healthy hands I just add a couple of drops of tea tree essential oil to the mix.
Toilet Cleaner: The same applies to your commercial toilet cleaner as to the shampoo and conditioner suggestion – Once you’ve used about 1/3 of it just top it up with water and shake to combine.
Washing Powder: If you use commercial washing powder you can make it go further by purchasing a packet of washing soda and mixing it in with your powder. This not only bulks up the powder but you can use less in each load as the washing soda boosts cleaning performance.
Breadcrumbs: Consider mixing into your plain breadcrumbs some wheatgerm or rice bran. This not only makes the breadcrumbs go further but also makes them a lot healthier – an easy was to up your fibre intake and the kids wont even know!
Pet Food: Add cooked grated carrot, another vegetable or cooked rice and pasta to pet food to make it go further. You can add these to either canned pet foods or your own homemade one, loaves and minced meats.