Yesterday at work, Mike and I started comparing city utility bills. His house is just down the street from me and nearly the same. The builder used only one floor plan in the construction of the development phase our houses were built in, customizing the houses by mirroring the floor plan, varying the roof styles among four choices, changing the window styles among four other choices and adjusting the distance from the street to the front wall. Other than those four choices, all the houses on our street are exactly the same.
Mike's and my house are remarkably alike. We have the same floor plan (no mirroring), with differing roofs, making comparisons in utility and repair costs quite easy. Exceptions in the "exactly the same" include decor (their house has been painted and they have new furniture versus our "not quite done, half finished maybe" painting in half the rooms and "70 year old former owner" style in the other half), landscaping (their grass versus our dirt) and order (the mildly OCD with cleaning spouse versus the mildly OCD with license plates spouse), and lot size (their house was a show house, so they have an extra four feet in lot width). So, when one asks the other, "What's your water bill?" a reasonable comparison can be made.
Our water bills differ by $20 a bill, which is $10 a month. "So I shouldn't complain about how high my bill is?" Mike asked. Nope.
But then we tried to figure out why his bill would be higher than mine. I immediately suggested the yard. They have grass to water. We don't. Our water bill goes up during the spring and summer when I garden, but it's offset by the lower gas bills, and our utility bills stay constant.
Mike disagreed, and offered the extra person, Liza, in his household as the extra cost source. Liza takes a bath at least every other day, and they fill the bathtub up to 6-8" for her to splash. Certainly that was the source.
I promptly disagreed, countering that I take nice, long, hot showers, we have seriously fantastic water pressure, and certainly use that much water every day, instead of every other day. So, bathing water was a wash, and there must be another reason for the difference, laundry perhaps?
Mike completely didn't believe me. No way. It's this much water! Your showers aren't that long (um, Mike, how do you know how long my showers are?). Plug the tub and see how much water you use.
So, I did.
As I stood in the increasing amount of cooling water gathering around my feet in the tub this morning, I couldn't help but wonder if this shower was going to be shorter than my normal shower. Surely, observing the water rise would affect my behaviour: my feet were getting cold. Maybe I would stay in the shower longer to prove my point, that I consume more shower water.
And what I wouldn't give to have a Living Machine like they do at Islandwood, to recycle all of this water I use each day. I'd totally use it on my garden. I wondered if I should switch to biodegradable soap, so that I could use the water in my garden anyway.
As I stepped out of the shower and took a ruler to the amount of water in my tub (8.5"), and realized I had actually taken a shorter shower than normal, I remembered how much my mom hated my long showers. Looking at the amount of water in the tub, I could appreciate why. It wasn't the water consumption so much as the cost to heat that water that cooled so quickly. To this day, I much prefer long, hot showers to quick just-to-clean showers most people seem to have.
So that she doesn't miss out on this simple daily pleasure, or even feel the slightest bit guilty about it, I figured I say this:
When you're old enough to appreciate this, Liza, please know that you can take long, hot showers at our house any time.