Tag Archives: water

Water counters, water price and incentives

Take a look at the water counter in the picture below:

Water counter at hostel.

We found these water counters at the hostel we were lodged in Berlin. I immediately started taking note of how many litres I consumed in each of the showers I took. First one:

I checked in the internet and found references of average consumptions for showers between 80 and 120 litres. The following days I tried to save some water (of course without compromising the cleaning part :-)). The minimum consumption I had was of 34L, the rest in the end were around 42L.

In the process I discussed with Luca whether hotels could incentivize in some ways (other than displaying the counter at our sight) the saving of water by the guests. We thought of possible messages in the way of “the average guest consumes 100L per shower, see if you can use less water! Do it for the planet!”, or whether some discounts / surcharges could be offered / imposed to those consuming less / more water.

However, I checked water prices in France and in Toulouse and it is around 3.3€ per cubic metre (m3). That is, in 5 days, having seen the counter and having tried to minimize water consumption all I saved was about 0.38 m3 or about 1.25€… this is economically meaningless in comparison with the hotel bill.

At those prices, I guess all we could do is trying to save water out of our consciences and not driven by an economic drive (the same level of saving I achieved could mean ~35€ a year per person).

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Filed under Economy, Travelling

Saving 1,700€ with a hair clipper

Often, after I have cut my hair, it is raised within a conversation the issue of the hair clipper and me cutting it by myself… Last time this happened was couple of weeks ago, and then I decided to reflect on it, make some numbers and write a small post about it.

I bought a Philips hair clipper machine at sometime around 2000-2002 (say 2001). It cost around 20€, though I remember we paid for it in pesetas (1 euro = ~166 pesetas). Since I had started losing some hair, the haircut I was already having was pretty simple: shaving it down to around 9-12mm. Beginning 2002 barber shops were charging about 8.5€ (I do not know how much do they charge now… assuming the price increased with inflation now it should be about 10-10.5€). That was the main driver behind the purchase: the payback time would be extremely quick, between 2 and 3 hair cuts.

In the last 10 years I may have had around 120-130 hair cuts (every 3-4 weeks). These, at the market price would have cost ~1,210€. However, there are some more aspects to take into consideration.

Time. When I used to go to a barber shop, the whole process (home door to home door) would take around 1 hour and a half (90′ – transport, waiting, cutting, transport), while now it takes no more than 20′ (maximum). Then and now, I take a shower afterwards, so I will keep it out of the comparison. This means that now I am saving 70′ each time I have a hair cut… counting the 130 cuts of the last ten years, these amount to 150 hours (about 15 hours / year). I will value these hours on the cheap side, since half of this time I was a student, so let us say 5€/hour. The time savings amount to another ~750€.

This time was my time. However, in about 2/3 of the cuts I counted with the help of either my mum or my partner. They contribute less time as preparation and clean up is done by myself, so let me say they spent about 10′ (~60 hours of their time in 10 years). Let me value their time as 3 times as expensive as mine (this way I am conservative in the business case comparison). This would be an extra cost of 215€ (no matter that it never implied a cash outflow… thanks!).

The price of the electricity of the couple of light bulbs and the clipper used when cutting hair at home (when at the barber’s it is included in the price) is almost negligible (at ~0.1kW/h). I started the calculations, but they amount to less than 1€. The water used in cleaning up is also quite cheap (at about 0.0013€/liter). Assuming each time I used 10 liters in cleaning up (maximum), this makes another ~1.7€.

Finally, I am not including in the calculation the cost of transportation to the barber shop and environmentally aspects of that transportation. We could think that in the 70′ free time that I am given due to cutting it at home I can engage in an equally transport-intensive activity with the same environmentally unfriendly consequences.

If we add up all the savings and costs… -20€ (clipper) +1,210€ (cut price) + 750€ (my time) -215€ (family time) -1€ (electricity) -1.7€ (water) = ~1,722€. After 10 years, the cumulative positive cash flow of that tiny 20€ investment back in 2001 is over 1,700 euros. Ah, and it never required any maintenance.

Do you still want to go to the barber shop?


Filed under Investing