It’s not often that a water bill brings the word “serendipity” to mind.

But when Michelle Massie received her water bill on the same day she received ACTION-Housing Green’s newsletter advertising a “Water Use in the Home” class, “serendipitous” certainly seemed to fit. Michelle, who owns a home in Garfield, signed up immediately for the class at ACTION-Housing’s Pittsburgh Green House—a typical Pittsburgh home located in East Liberty that’s been transformed into a hands-on learning laboratory where contractors and regular residents can learn all about residential energy and water efficiency.

“I called up the office, and I said I have to—I have to—be in this class,” she said.

As part of the 45 minute lecture and hands-on class, she formulated a plan to reduce her water usage and save money.

The class was transformational; she bought water saving aerators for all of her faucets and an efficient showerhead that night after the class ended. She also cut her shower time down dramatically by starting to use a simple 5-minute hourglass timer that sticks to the wall of her shower.

“You can get a lot done in five minutes,” she said.

In addition to those quick and effective tips, Michelle also said the Pittsburgh Green House class made her a more informed homeowner.  She learned how to flush sediment from her water tank and for the first time since her pre-purchase inspection, read her water meter. The class gave Michelle the necessary skills to confidently read her water bill and understand what she can do to save even more.

And it’s all paying off.  Within the first month, Michelle began to see savings. She saved $10 on her first bill.

“And after that, it just kept creeping down,” she said.

By the third month she was saving about 30 percent from what she was paying before taking the class. By July, the savings on her water bill already paid for the improvements she made to her house in March.

“I must say,” Michelle said, “it was probably the best decision I’ve made, as a home owner, to take part in that class, because I have seen just a dramatic difference.”  

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