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Hot Water?

Discussion in 'How To Save Energy' started by Katy-did, May 29, 2013.

  1. May 29, 2013
    Katy-did

    Katy-did Sustainable Newbie

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    It's my first post, so here's a bit of background. My husband and I, and our three kids live on 10 acres of land. We have a double-wide trailer that we live in, several outbuildings and an older house built around 1860 (we lived there for a bit, but it became very difficult to heat/cool). Our neighbors on either side want to sell their land to us (30 on one and 15 on the other). I'm a stay at home mom and my husband lost his job in January. We are very fortunate to have enough savings so that things are still going well, but we want to lower our expenses as much as possible as we want to buy more property. We currently have zero debt (no house, car or credit card payments).

    I'm interested in learning how to do laundry by hand and feel comfortable trying it. I'd like to not waste hot water and was thinking about filling up plastic milk containers with water and leaving them in the sun to heat up. Would that work? Obviously, we wouldn't drink it, it's only for washing clothes. We're attempting to set up a rainwater system but we need to install gutters first (and at the moment our project is chickens - we moved an outbuilding today and hope to have the yard finished for them this week-end).

    Thanks for any suggestions.
     
  2. May 29, 2013
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Sustainability Master

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    Hi Katy - WELCOME!

    Heating water in milk jugs would probably work - but I'll bet it would work even better if the jugs were painted black. Just an idea.
     
  3. May 29, 2013
    Denim Deb

    Denim Deb More Precious than Rubies

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    :welcome Ditto to what FEM said. You could also use kitty litter containers. Either way, you'd want them painted black. Black absorbs the heat better than lighter colors.
     
  4. May 29, 2013
    moolie

    moolie Almost Self-Reliant

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    :welcome

    A black rubber hose left out in the sun full of water gets very hot, as does a "camping solar shower" which is a 5 gallon thick black plastic bag with a shower nozzle that you can get from any camping department (e.g. at Wal-Mart) or store (e.g. Bass Pro, Cabela's), so I'm sure just about any black container should do the job on a sunny day :)
     
  5. May 30, 2013
    TanksHill

    TanksHill Super Self-Sufficient

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    All great ideas but don't forget the obvious. Not all laundry needs to be washed hot. I lived in an rv for almost a year. My washer was connected to a garden hose.

    I have seen basic blue barrels as well as ones painted black. They hold a lot!!

    Fantastic news on the land. I wish you luck!!

    gina
     
  6. May 30, 2013
    moolie

    moolie Almost Self-Reliant

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    This, totally. (Hi Gina :frow )

    I only wash kitchen towels and occasionally whites hot--everything else gets washed cold :)
    (Although sometimes in the winter when it's -20C and the cold water is VERY cold I will run loads on warm.)
     
  7. May 30, 2013
    moxies_chickennuggets

    moxies_chickennuggets Almost Self-Reliant

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    Welcome !! :welcome There are plenty of well proven ways to save hot water, as well as saving water in general. I learned as a Navy wife living on a base that we could/were supposed to, rinse soapy dishes in cold water. As long as they are washed hot, the rinse is fine. Same with laundry, wash in warm or cold, and save the hot loads for sanitizing. I also hand wash in the sink quite often, and line dry.
    If water is a problem, low water table, drought etc....use gray water for watering plants and some veggies. Or, save rinse waters that are mostly clean, for watering potted plants.

    On rainwater, I capture around 1,000 gallons of it from the various roofs on our property. I store half in IBC totes. Those are for watering the gardens only. The ones I collect rainwater in, are 32 gallon black plastic trash barrels. I use ot for chicken waterers, till it becomes off colored. Then it is for plants only. I go back to rainwater, for the chickens, after a new rain, when the water is fresh.

    We are dealing with low water on our well, so that is our problem. I also write down all water usage, showers, and laundry ..as they are big users. I try not to have to do laundry and showers on the same day. Alternating if possible. We also do not water the gardens from the well.

    Your average large load of laundry, top loader, will use 30 gal wash/30 gal rinse. A typical shower/bath uses about 35 gallons.

    I understand that you have 3 children. I did also, but my water needs were different back in the 80's/90's when they were still at home. But I did wash diapers on all 3 of them. You just need to evaluate your water needs and consumption, and decide where you can cut back, how you can cut back, etc. Good luck with your future project!!
     
  8. May 30, 2013
    TanksHill

    TanksHill Super Self-Sufficient

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    Hi moolie!!

    :frow
     
  9. May 30, 2013
    Katy-did

    Katy-did Sustainable Newbie

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    Thanks all for the replies and warm welcome! :)

    I'm using powdered detergent which is why I wanted warm water (it probably doesn't need to be hot). However, I don't want to use our hot water heater unless we have to. We (the younger two kids) will be doing the kids laundry (clothing) by hand. I will do mine and my husband's by hand. I plan to wash towels and sheets by machine. Line dry all but towels. (The girls have different colored towels so I can tell who doesn't hang it up after a bath).

    Moolie, I have VERY fond memories of my grandmother (who was the ultimate in frugality) washing clothes with a long black hose stretched out in the sun. Every so often she would prop open the kitchen window an inch and use it to do dishes. I would use that technique as well except I'm trying to cut back on water and hope to use rainwater for laundry.

    Right now I use a dishwasher. I'm not sure how much of an energy/water waste it is. On the rare occasion that I handwash dishes, I use a sink full of hot soapy water to wash and then running warm water to rinse (good to know I can use cold!). I should probably do better in the handwash area, but we use SO many dishes.

    Water is only a problem because I need to lower my water bill. It's not excessively high, but our income has gone from fairly well to nothing except savings income. If there's a way to cut costs, now is the time to do it while we still have some income and can actually begin projects (like putting in chickens). We're very fortunate in that regard.

    The needs of my family are complex. My oldest is disabled. She has autism and is considered severely affected. She is non-verbal, limited comprehension and is 13 years old. She needs assistance feeding, bathing, basic hygiene and dressing. My middle daughter is 11 years old and has celiac disease. Most of what we cook is gluten free although I'll probably start using some wheat for the rest of us (mostly to feed our teenager!). She's our health nut and enthusiastically embraces our gardening and thoughts on livestock. Our youngest is 8 and has been through some trauma. She's doing much better but homeschooling for her was a necessity (our middle daughter chose to homeschool simply to access more resources than public school offered. Our oldest is public school.) My youngest is also a nature lover and enjoys gardening and animals.

    I need to cut my expenses to 1/3 of what we used to use, at a minimum. So far, everyone (including DH) is enthusiastic about the changes. I don't anticipate DH going back to work so we need to adjust. He has always wanted us to be self-sufficient and off-grid. I'd like to try to move us there and it looks like now is the time to do it. I'd also like to conserve as much savings as possible not just for our retirement, but for my oldest daughter's needs after we pass away. At some point, I need to not only be able to live on our limited income but make money. (That's a long ways away though).

    Thanks again :)
     
  10. May 30, 2013
    moxies_chickennuggets

    moxies_chickennuggets Almost Self-Reliant

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    You do have your hands full Katy. Have you considered looking into a rooftop water heater? like for a swimming pool? You can of course do laundry with solar heated water. When I used powdered detergent, I would dissolve the amount in about a quart of hot water, then adding it to my washing machine. It saved a lot on hot water.
     

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