Monday, July 18, 2011

How much water do we use?

Rudy over at Preparing Your Family,, wrote about rain water harvesting today.  He said that at his house he could collect 17,000 gallons of water in one year.  It got me to thinking, how much water do we use?  If you live in a city and have a water meter connected to your house it's easy to calculate how much water you use.  Just read the meter. 


On the other hand, when living in the country and using a well it's a harder task.  I read that you can purchase in-line water meters to figure out your usage.  The water comes out of my well and heads in two different directions.  One is to the house which also goes directly to the water spigots in the front yard.  However, the pipe that goes to the back garden does not run through the house.  The pipe splits at the well and goes to the back or to the front.  How do I figure out my water use?  I found this site which will help. 


Using the above calculator and stating water use on the high side, it showed we need over 200 gallons of water per day for inside use and another 400 gallons for outside use.  Again this on the super high side.  Perhaps with the kids home during the summer and going through a heat spell needing lots of water in the garden.  I just can't imagine us using 600 gallons of water a day!  I then put in my responses using what I believe to be typical, not high.  This time the calculator came back with 100 gallons per day inside use.  That's more reasonable.  I doubt we use 400 gallons of water per day outside.  The animals do go through about 25 gallons a day during the summer.  The chicken coop rainwater does drain into their water container during winter.  The sheep don't drink too much during the winter, and they will drink out of puddles if they are clean. 


Since I run my garden and back fruit trees off a hose drip system it should be easy to calculate how much water I use.  You'd think that all I'd have to do is turn on the faucet, take off the hose, and have the water go into a bucket.  I'd time it and as soon as the five gallons filled up I'd be able to multiply or divide and add or subtract (depending on how long it took) to figure out my gallons per minute.  That sounds reasonable since I don't have the water on full blast when I'm running the drip.  If it was full blast it wouldn't calculate properly because the water doesn't come out full blast; there would be a backup in the system.  About twice per week I water the trees and vegetables during the summer.  I only turn the faucet a ½ twist but I let it run for two or three hours.  It will be interesting to do the bucket test to see how much water is coming out of the faucet. 


If I was able to collect all the water from the barns I'd get about 20,000 gallons per year and another 25,000 from the house and garage.  That's if I collected every drop - 45,000 gallons if I had a storage tank that large.  Just calculating the inside water, our needs would be 36,500 gallons per year.  That would leave the rest of our 45,000 gallons to give water to the animals.  Forget about watering the garden. 


What did I learn from this calculation?  I need to make sure my well works!  I am still putting a water collection tank in but no matter what, it will not be able to provide for our needs if we expect it to water the garden and the trees.  That's the price of living in an area with 11 inches of rain per year. 


  1. I love your blog and everything you do. I would love more detail on the solar oven but I really have just one comment on this living not to far from you in the desert. Water here sucks, lol! I hope we are on a different tunnel when things go south because that is the biggest issue with being here. Finding water.

  2. interesting. my spa pool is 1000l thats 264 gallons it takes the garden hose 1 hour to fill on full. we have metered water, ive just checked to see how much we use, it comes to 90 gallons a day average for the last year, we do have some rain water collection and this last summer was wet so we didnt have to hose the vege patch much. id say about 10mins of watering once a week if that for 2 mnths. depending on your usage inside and the amount of people currently living with you 100 gallons could be close. we have 4 min showers, wash dishes by hand, and do about 4 loads of washing a week. those auto washers can use an enormous amount of water

  3. That was actually just a hypothetical situation I used :) Though the dimensions for that cabin are the same as the cabin we're planning on building (that I haven't actually posted about yet...)

    I'll probably talk a bit more about our water plans at some point, since water is really THE fundamental concern for all of us, but we're probably going to put in 10k gallons of storage to start with and pump from the well to the tanks. The bottom line is EXACTLY what you said ... a good well is still key, even in an area that gets three times the rain you do.

    One thing that it sounds like you're already doing is to make sure to capture rain off of animal buildings (chicken coops and chicken tractors are the big ones for us) and use that water for the animals that are housed there. At least on a supplemental basis...