Excessive Conservation Wearing Out [noun]...

So... While brushing my teeth - I first rinse my brush, turn the faucet on, brush, then rinse the sink/mouth. Yes, I turn the faucet off while brushing. And if you're counting - that's two on/off cycles per brushing...

I've been playing with this tool: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/procurement/eep_faucets_showerheads_calc.html

And I pose an open question for discussion.. But first, my data/research...

I'm estimating 3 minutes of use per day - 365 days/year. According to the tool... I use 2190 gallons per year. Lets say that's 5 uses per day (2 for teeth - 1 for bathroom use). The tool seems to estimate an 8.4 year service life - so that's a total of 18396 gallons of water over it's life as a faucet.

So If I leave the water on while brushing - that's 3 on/off cycles per day.
If I turn the water off while brushing - That's 5 on/off cycles per day (40% more cycles).

Realistically, a faucet's wear comes from on/off cycles - each use bringing it closer to retirement. So 40% of 8.4 years is 3.4 years.

Now... Leaving the faucet on an extra 4 minutes per day (2 minutes per brushing) consumes 2920 gallons of water per year.

The difference over 8.4 years is: 30660-18396=12264 gallons. At about $4 per 1000 gallons - that difference is $49.06. BUT, the direct replacement for my faucet (as priced today in home depot to the exact model) is $75. So after 8.4 years

Faucet remaining on will cost me:
$49.06 + $75 = $124.06
Faucet being turned off will cost me:
$75 + $30(prorated cost of faucet for 3.4 years of wear on a new faucet) = $105

12,264 gallons of water

That is to say - due to extra wear on my faucet - it's only marginally more economical to turn my faucet off while brushing my teeth. If I wasn't me, and not able to DIY replace - it very well may be cost effective to leave it on given the cost of a hiring a handy man or plumber...

Okay... Now that you've read the above... please discuss your thoughts. I am very much aware of the assumptions I have made (no need to point them out) - just looking for opinions :)


Lets turn this discussion on it's head now... As several have pointed out, conserving is more important - bonus as it's close to an economical wash in my fictitious scenario above (it's not 100% real and based on data from the link above and some hefty assumptions).

My car uses .3 gallons of gasoline per hour at idle. Lets take a 100% city drive in heavy traffic (my drive yesterday). I was at a complete stop due to traffic lights or traffic for 20 seconds or more a total of 12 times to travel ~10 miles (yes, I freakin timed it). So that's a total of 4 minutes (wow, that worked out nice) of idle time. That time consumes 0.02 gallons of fuel costing me $0.06. If I were to make that commute 5 days a week, twice daily - that's a cost of:
10.4 gallons of gasoline
$31.2 worth of fuel

So, a new starter for my car costs $130. Typically the motors don't actually die - just the contacts. But lets assume I don't want to fiddle with that and just want to direct replace (corollary to valve washers :D).

This means - using my starter an additional 24 times per day - it will take 4.2 years for the fuel savings to pay for a new starter. In 4.2 years - averaging 12,000 miles per year - I will have traveled 50400 miles.

Okay - now lets consider the cost of fuel to restart - 24 times.... According to mechanical engineering magazine, a V6 engine used 5 seconds worth of idling gasoline to restart. So - redoing some math to compensate - that's a savings of
7.8 gallons of gasoline per year
$23.4 per year
Time to recoup 1 starter: 5.6 years (equating to 66000 miles)

So, I'm having some problems finding data on starter life cycle - all I have is anecdotal evidence...
*My personal car has 115K miles and is ~8 years old - and I've been doing this since I bought the car >2 years ago.
*My last car was sold at 98K miles and this was done for a little less than 2 years (the car was 8/9 years old when sold).
*My first car had unknown mileage (estimated around 150K), was 10 years old and the engine was killed at stoplights.
*My parents own a conversion van (seldom used now) that is 12 years old, 120K miles - did not shut the engine (v8) down at traffic lights.
None of the cars above have had their starter go.
*Father had a truck that had it's starter replaced around 220K miles - unknown age. That car left us with a blown connecting rod around 300K miles

Batteries... Yes, this does put more strain on your battery... I'll go more into that when I can find some better data (more than anecdotal :p)...

But, that's to say... It's economically viable to turn off your engine at traffic lights... So much so, it's illegal to idle (over a certain period of time) at traffic lights in some countries...

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THIS IS OFF TOPIC...YET RELATED As far as water conservation and the environment goes , I believe the mere concept of "wasting water" is stupid. First off it is one of the few renewable resource we have in abundance. I say leave your faucet running all day long, I say flush your toilet for no good reason, Take 4 showers a day. The more clean filtered water we put back into the sewers--->rivers--->oceans the better. It keeps the septic system clean and clear, dilutes pollutants, and promotes a healthier environment. So waste away.

I don't think draining aquifers into the sea constitutes "promoting a healthier environment". I'm not sure about your idea of diluting pollutants, either- could you clarify?
I was really just referring to putting cleaner water back into the hydrologic cycle instead of our cruddy waste water all the time. The aquifers are going to drain back into the sea anyway. For example: If we produce 1,000,000 gallons or dirty chemical-filled laundry water and only 10,000 gallons of "wasted" water (like running the faucet while buttering your toast across the room) the potency of the toxicity of the dirty water is pretty bad. But if we produced 1,000,000 gallons of dirty water to say 600,000 gallons of cleaner water it could only help dilute the potency. I'd drink a cup of water that has 1/1000th part bleach, than 1 part bleach. I'm definitely no scientist. I just like to kick around weird ideas in my head and share them, that way it stimulates brainstorming like we are doing now.
Your idea is the old "The solution to pollution is dilution" belief that has made such a mess of the world already. Below is a video of some of the 300 Million gallons of partially treated sewage that Florida has been dumping into the ocean every day for the last 40 years. Just how long would you have to run your tap before you'd be willing to drink it?

I didn't intend my "dilution" scenario as a pollution solution, or justification to half treat sewage. Just to say that its not necessarily an absolutely terrible thing to let your faucet run a little for fear of destroying the planet. it does little harm, if not a little good.
It does little harm if you were the only one doing it, but multiplied by the 300 million people in this country who are hopefully brushing their teeth at least once a day, it does enormous harm.
300 million people.... .now consider 1 bliion people who don't care and do worse. Seems like our efforts will have little effect
Yep, sure does, and if that's all the excuse you need to do nothing, that is your prerogative.
Who says I or we do nothing?  You assume a lot don't you!
trebuchet03 (author)  brookspaul10657 years ago
He surely didn't say any of that... All his comment says is that it's an excuse, and it's your choice (aka prerogative).

I think what Tool (and many others) assume is that those that wish to respond to a comment will actually read first. If that's assuming a lot, that's your call (but I would respectfully disagree if that's the case).

The crux of it is, those 300 million people (which I assume you mean in the United States) are the biggest offenders per capita with Canada in #2 (but significantly far away from the #1 position) and Australia #3.

I would consider 1 billion people offending worse - but it would be pure academics for an alternative reality. We'd be so lucky if we cut our consumption so far as to be that far down the list of resource consumers :p
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