My water bill doubled in the past three months, thanks in part to using cloth diapers, so I am redoubling my efforts to reduce my water consumption. From the obvious to the bizarre, here are 14 ways I am cutting back on H2O:
1. Where have you been all my life, dishwasher quick cycle? I have no idea why I’ve ignored you until now, but your ability to produce hot and steamy dishes in 38-minutes is a major turn on. Sayonara 1:54-minute regular cycle. Mama’s got a move on!
2. I’ll admit I’m showering less frequently now that my baby leaves me with scant personal time. (Read: none.) But it’s also a great money saver! In a pinch, I wipe down with a wet hand towel.
3. A secret of professional housecleaners is to skip any work a machine can do. I now let my dishwasher wash – gasp – our big knives. How can something so wrong feel so right?!
4. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. Even my husband is getting on board with infrequent flushing now that he’s seen how high our water bill can go. Every drop counts!
5. Mulch is super cheap – about $2.50 for two cubic feet – and helps soil retain moisture in your soil. If you layer it on three inches thick, weeds are less likely to grow. Double win!
6. When I do shower, I skip washing my whole head of hair to save time. Instead I wash the crown of my head, which gets the dirtiest. This way I only do a full wash, which requires more time and water, once a week.
7. I’m not a fan of 2-in-1 shampoo conditioner concoctions, but soaping up and rinsing once does save time. And water.
8. Putting dishes into the dishwasher dirty, instead of pre-rinsing, saves us a few gallons. It also makes me hate cleaning the kitchen a little less.
9. Cold showers are my favorite way to cool off in the summer, but they also mean I get in and out in under two minutes.
10. We only grow edibles, which means every drop of water we pour into our garden eventually comes back as food. Unless the bugs or mildew or fungus or caterpillars get there first. Grrrrr.
11. A rain barrel has the potential to feed our entire kitchen garden, but the upfront investment, about $100 for a 50-gallon barrel, has me balking. With every 1,000 gallons of water costing me $6.43, this barrel will pay off after 311 full uses. It’s not exactly the quickest payoff. If your rates are higher, your payoff will come sooner.
12. When the baby was first born, we were careful to wash her cloth diapers separately. But that meant two additional loads of laundry every day! So, we added in her onesies, blankets and teeny tiny socks. It cuts our laundry in half and everything comes out just as clean.
13. Drought-resistant plants are a no-brainer, especially if you live in a dry climate. Rosemary and thyme are two of my favorites because they are edible, too!
14. If you don’t want to spend a drop on your lawn or garden, patches of red and white stones are an option. Perhaps a slightly embarrassing option, but an option nonetheless.
Julia Scott founded the money-saving blog, BargainBabe.com.