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How to save water in your home

A typical rain water collection system

Do you still use clean, drinking water to water your garden and wash your car? I can’t face the thought of using clean water for these things so have been checking out various options to see which make the most sense for my house. I’ve found a wide range of options suiting all pockets and requirements. Read on for a quick summary.

Water tanks collecting rain water from gutters

  1. The bells and whistles rainwater collection tank

The most elaborate and most expensive setup involves connecting all your rooftop gutters to one single point to feed a large tank, normally about 5000lt. It often involves a pump connected to an irrigation system, and is most suitable for large gardens that require a lot of water.   I find these large tanks quite an eyesore, but you can always bury them, or wrap with chicken mesh and grow some creepers around it.  You could also install automated float systems that  top your tank up with municipal water when needed. The cost depends on the number of downpipes connected, but normally adds up to about R10 000. Burying the tank will obviously cost more.

2. A simple gutter collection system

If option 1 is a little extreme for you, the simplest thing is to place a small tank at the base of one gutter, preferably one that discharges the largest volume of water. An easy way to test which gutter collects the most rainwater  is to put similar size containers under each gutter when it’s raining and see which one fills up first. The nice thing about this is that the “tank” can be anything, from a wheelie bin to an old geyser.  This option is great if you have a little herb or veggie garden, since you don’t need that much water and can simply scoop from the tank when required.  Just bare in mind you need to make sure it’s a container that is properly sealed to prevent algae and mosquitoes settling in. Also, no pump is needed, so no electricity use! I did a search and found a functional 500lt tank with a tap for about R1 000.

Rain water being piped directly into the pool

3. Pumping via the storm water outlet

The final feasible option I’ve found is to collect water at your house’s storm water outlet and pump this into a tank from there. This option is the most unusual of the lot but quite innovative. You have a much larger surface area to collect water from than just your roof but then of course potential for contamination is higher. Unlike the other two options, this one might be a little more difficult to install and maintain, but you manage to collect a lot more water. Obviously filters are available, and recommended if you are collecting from a particularly dirty collection area, or if you are watering plants you plan on eating. The cost depends very much on each particular house, but it is somewhere between the previous two options (R1 000 and R10 000).

4. Reusing your household water

There are many ways to reuse the water you use in your kitchen and bathroom – this water is known as grey water. You can install a grey water system which collects household water in a tank and pumps it into your garden. A simpler, less expensive way is to keep a bucket in the shower to catch the water while you wait for it to heat up – you can use this water in your garden, or to flush the toilet. Keep a tub in the sink to catch water used for washing vegetables to water your pot plants. Use a bucket to scoop out your bathwater and use it in the garden.

I urge you to considerer creating at least a small rain water collection system at your house. Using clean drinking water to water your grass, wash your car and fill your pool is a little silly I think, and a habit we should all try break. Need I even mention how much coal based electricity is going in to treating and distributing this water?  Rainwater is clean and free, use it!

For more ideas on how to make savings at home try using Project 90’s household toolkit or their toolkit booklet on water. For water savings at work – try out their office toolkit

Image courtesy of http://guwahatilife.blogspot.com/2011/09/rainwater-harvesting-in-guwahati-city.html. Photos taken at the home of Anthony Keen, who we blogged about last week.

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2 responses to “How to save water in your home

  1. Pingback: World Water Day – how can I make a difference? |

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    and would really like to have you share some stories/information.
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