Indoor water-saving tips from the pros

Tips on the best ways to save water indoors from the City of Bend Water Conservation Manager

In Bend, our water and sewer rates were recently modernized and we now we pay for every gallon of water we use. Our sewer rate is also connected to how much water we use and is calculated based on our average winter indoor water use. That means that any water saved indoors saves on the cost of that water and shows up as savings on your monthly sewer bill.

So, what should you do if you are going to do just one thing to save water indoors?  On average, approximately 24 percent of indoor water use is used for toilet flushing.  This is the single largest use of water inside most residential homes.  If you’re in a home built before 1993, you may have outdated toilets that flush at a rate of 3.5 gallons per flush (GPF) or more.  Cha-ching! Now we’re talking about some big savings!

If you’re in a newer home, you most likely have more efficient fixtures that meet newer standards but there could still be opportunities for savings.

A closer look at the toilet example

Replacing a pre-1993 toilet that flushes at 3.5 GPF with an EPA WaterSense labeled toilet that flushes at 1.28 GPF will save roughly 2.22 gallons every time someone flushes the toilet.

U.S. Census data tells us that approximately there are roughly 2.4 people per residential household in Bend.  We also know that the average person flushes five times per day.  Some quick math will show that the annual water savings from this toilet upgrade could yield 9,723 gallons (2.22 gallons X 5 flushes per day X 365 days X 2.4 people)!

The financial breakdown – stay with me!

An indoor water savings of 9,723 gallons pencils out to an approximate water cost savings of $12.99 each year at our current rate.  But, remember that the sewer cost savings comes on top of this.  Reducing monthly water use by 810 gallons each month (9,723 / 12) would lower your winter quarter average and show up as cost savings 12 months of the year.  The City’s current sewer rate for residential customers is $3.38 per CCF of the average water amount used during these winter months of December, January and February.  Lowering that indoor water use by 810 gallons per month would yield a financial sewer savings of $3.66 each month.  That’s another $43.92 each year!  Collectively, the water and sewer savings alone would equal $56.91 each year. Not too bad for a toilet that can cost well under $200 and lasts more than 20 years.

To sum in all up? Don’t flush money and water down the toilet—install a low flow toilet.

About the Author

Mike Buettner, Water Conservation Program Manager, City of Bend

Dolling out advice is a big part of the job for me.  Luckily, educating and informing customers on the best, most effective ways to save water is what drew me to this field.  How many other people get to spend their days helping people become less dependent on our most precious natural resource?  So when I was asked to be a guest blogger for the he  was more than happy to offer my two cents. .