Friday, March 20, 2009

It's like watching MacGyver work

It's not really. It's a brick. Or, it's a jar, or something else that displaces water. You've no doubt heard it before, and many readers are already doing it. However, for those who have never encountered this eons-old water conservation measure:
You can convert just about any existing toilet into a low-flow unit without ever getting your hands dirty*. Booting-up your computer probably takes longer than this will.
Simply take the lid off the tank, and place a brick, a concrete paver, or a clean jar (filled with water and tightly closed), and put the lid back onto the tank. Done.
Now, every time the tank refills, the brick (or whatever you've used) will displace some water. The result is that every time the toilet is flushed, it uses that much less water. Depending upon your home's usage and how much water you can effectively displace, this can easily save gallons every week. For reference, it you use a spent 20 oz soda bottle to displace water, that translates to about a 10% savings for many units.
This saves you and your community water and energy. Keep in mind that in virtually every US home, all of the water entering the house is potable water. That means that it has been thoroughly treated to the point of being safe to drink. And, of course, it must be pumped (both treating the water and moving it require energy) before it gets to every fixture in the house, even if that fixture is only used for washing clothes, spraying-off a lawn mower, or flushing a toilet. You're paying for drinking water for all of those uses. And, of course all of that wastewater has to be treated after it leaves your home. You pay for that, too.
Save some water, save some money.

*Author's note: Since this post specifically names bricks (which are often dusty or dirty) and jars (which have to be thoroughly cleaned), E.R. Dunhill's statement that you will never get your hands dirty is probably patently untrue. Also, the author would have written the usual emphatic Be the solution in this post, but as quick as the actual recommendation is, it seemed like a waste of time. Nuts. I've just written it.


Pat Jenkins said...

i am always up for tips that save me money...

Stacey D said...

I like it. Thanks for posting :)

E. R. Dunhill said...

As it happens, my first role-model for green living was my grandmother, who was green not because it was hip, but because frugality and creative reuse are simply the way of life on her small farm.
This green=frugal truism works for businesses, not just individuals. Thomas Friedman's book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded contains a number of good examples of major businesses that create competitive advantages and control costs through environmental strategies.

E. R. Dunhill said...

Thanks for stopping by. There'll be more where that came from.

Sue said...

bricks have a tendancy to crumble over time and the residue gets into the pipes with often devasting results. A simple solution that has none of the draw backs is to take a plastic jug (depending on the size of your tank a quart or half-gallon or even gallon) such as milk jug, and fill it with rocks or sand, and then seal it tightly and sit the jug down in your toilet tank.

E. R. Dunhill said...

Thanks for the tip. The danger from a sealed brick or paver is pretty small if you're on a modern treated water system, but if folks want to make that risk essentially 0 (and reuse something that would otherwise go in the bin), filled bottles or jars are good options. It's also much easier to calculate the savings with a bottle or jar, since the amount of water you're displacing is printed right on it. That can also make it easier to fine-tune the displacement to achieve the greatest savings without interfering with the mechanics.