Don't pipe away water your plants desperately need.

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It's hot. It's dry. And where I live in Alabama, water is expensive. It only makes sense to save and use water that costs you nothing, right? For 25 years, I ignored that.

Like people everywhere in the South, our house has air conditioners. An air conditioner does two essential things for us. It cools the air from the usual 95 degrees outdoors in the afternoon to a temperature inside that we can stand. Just as important, it dehumidifies indoor air, making us feel even cooler and keeping mold from consuming the furniture.

When my house was built, each AC unit was equipped with a pipe to transport the condensation water out of the house into the back yard. One emptied into a dry sump filled with gravel. Never had a problem until I noticed water on the garage floor. The line had clogged, backed up, and was dripping water onto the furnace and floor. Not good.

I don't know how long it had been going on, but when the service guy examined the furnace, he found rust in there. Rusty furnaces can leak carbon monoxide into your house and kill you in your sleep. I ponied up a couple thousand for a new furnace and vowed this would never happen again.

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While I could have unclogged the pipe and left it in place, that made me nervous. What if it stopped up again? Would it ruin my new furnace? Nope, nope, nopitty, nope, nope. I cut the pipe an inch outside the house just below an L connector. Drip, drip, drip flowed the water. Then the proverbial light bulb flashed on in my brain. "I wonder how much water comes out in a day?" I thought. "Let me put a bucket under the pipe and see."

I was shocked. That pipe filled up a five-gallon bucket two or three times a day! Does that tell you how humid Alabama is in summer? That was condensation water reflected in my power bill. Shouldn't I use it to decrease my water bill?

Lots of potted plants around the house need watering every day. My condensation water now takes care of all of them. I also use it to water plants I can't easily reach with a house. Plus, my bird bath gets a refill of fresh water each day.

I bet lots of you could do the same thing. It didn't cost me a cent. A penny saved is a penny earned and another thirsty plant watered. All good.

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