We all know that our fresh water resources are under threat and by saving water at home, we can not only help preserve our water but save money as well.
An average person with a home and a garden can use 150 -200 litres of water per day in a household with an extra 200 litres per day on average to water the garden. With manufacturers aware that their customers are conscious of their water usage, more and more products are now being made with water efficiency in mind. In this article we talk about garden and household tips to save water and the latest products available to further help with water efficiency.
In the garden
Grey water recycling
Use water from baths, sinks and washing machines to water your garden plants. If you are not using harsh chemicals in these areas, the water is usually safe for the garden. Installing a grey water system like the GardenResQ will make this so much easier. The system works in this way: the unit is placed outside near the outlet pipes and plugged into an outdoor electricity source. Pool cleaner hose is then used to divert the water from the outlet into the GardenResQ. It is then connected to a low pressure irrigation system and the pump will get the grey water to the plants. There are a few things to remember though get more information before proceeding.
Some larger grey water recycling systems can be buried underground are available from companies like Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems and Biolytix. Systems like the Pontos AquaCycle from Akwadoc Water Recycling Solutions filter the water and stores it so that it can be used at your convenience.
Collecting free rainwater from your roof for use in gardens and in the home can significantly reduce reliance on municipal water. As with all things, the amount of water you can collect is determined by the amount of rainfall in your area, the area available on the roof to harvest the water and the storage capacity of your system.
As a general guideline, 1 mm of rain on one square meter of roof would supply 1 litre of water while 10 mm of rain on a roof of 100 square meters would supply 1 kilolitre of water.
The systems available can range from a simple storage unit that is connected to a down-pipe, with a filter and a tap at the bottom (like the Water Butt from Keter) to large underground tanks with triple action filters, high capacity delivery systems, self-cleaning rain heads and many more features (like the range from Rain Harvesting Systems). The bigger the system, the more expensive it becomes, but the more water is saved.
•Water before 10am in the morning or after 4pm as evaporation is the highest between these hours. Water less frequently, but for longer. This will encourage deeper root systems resulting in stronger plants.
•Hand watering using a watering can saves more water than using a hosepipe and a more efficient way of reaching the roots.
•Water at ground level where water is needed the most.
•If you are using a hosepipe fit a connection to the end of the pipe which allows you to vary the spray intensity and switch off the hosepipe without going back to the point of connection. Other devices that save water include micro sprays, drip irrigation systems and soil moisture sensors.
•Irrigation systems can lower water consumption. Those that deliver water to the base of the plants and work off timers save even more water. Rain sensing devices that automatically switch off when it rains are a good investment. Call the Landscape Irrigation Association of South Africa for suppliers in your area.
•Using a product like a Dammetjie or GreenWell can reduce the amount of water used, especially on trees and special plants. They act like storage dams that funnel the water directly to the roots of the plants.
•Using a pool cover will reduce the evaporation of water in swimming pools so topping up can be done less often.
•Don’t fill a pool to the top. This will reduce the amount of water lost due to splashing.
•Group plants with high water needs together and remember to keep them moist for longer with a thick layer of mulch.
•Use plenty of compost in the garden which not only enriches the soil and provides essential nutrients to the plants, but improves the soils water holding capacity.
•Opt for more indigenous (particularly endemic) and tough exotics plants that don’t need as much water.
•Remove alien invader plants – they tend to be very thirsty apart from the damage they do in the environment. One Saligna Gum tree (EUCALYPTUS grandis) can for example consume up to 700 litres of water a day.
•Cut down on lawn space – most lawn is very thirsty and can use up to four times more water than other plants.
•Use the water after boiling eggs for your houseplants. Cool it first and then water the plants – they will benefit from the extra nutrients released by the eggs.
•Wash cars with buckets of water rather than a hosepipe. Using 2 buckets of water can save up to 300 litres of water each time.
•Fill a 2 litre plastic bottle with water and place in the cistern, this will reduce the amount of water flushed and you could save up 7300 litres of water a year. You can also use a Hippo Bag , which is made from heavy duty plastic and perforated to prevent stagnation. The advantage in using the Hippo Bag is that it takes the shape in your cistern.
•When considering changes or installing a new cistern remember that there are different water efficiencies that range from a 9 litre flush cistern which is more efficient that the older 13 litre flush cisterns, but not as efficient as the more modern 6 litre or even 4.5 litre flush cisterns. There are also a number of products ranging from dual flush or low flush toilets to waterless ones on the market. In some studies, the installation of low flush toilets especially in schools and commercial environments have found to be an effective way of conserving water and in some cases the saving has paid for the cost of installation within a year.
Taps and Shower Heads
•Consider changing your taps to reduce the flow rate. A normal 15 mm sink tap has a flow rate of 12 litres per minute while a conventional wash basin tap has a flow rate of 9 litres per minute. These flow rates can be reduced by using a flow limiter tap or a spray tap (2.4 litres per minute) or aerator tap (6 litres per minute).
•Consider the flow rate of your shower head as well. At the top end of the scale a flow rate exceeding 24 litres per minute is poor and wasteful while a flow rate of 6-8 litres is very good according to the World Health Organisation (2006).
•Teach the members of your household to save water by turning the tap off when brushing teeth of shaving, taking less time in the shower and closing taps properly. A dripping tap (one drop per second) could waste up to 30 litres of water an hour – 10 000 litres a year.
•Fix leaking taps timeously.
•The shape and size of a bathtub can dictate how much water is used. A squared off bath, for example can use 4.5 times more water that a sloping sides bath. An efficient bath design can in some instances (sharing with family members for example) be more of a water saving that showering.
Water saving machines
•Generally front loader washing machines use less water than top loaders and many machines now have a water efficient cycle. Washing in cold water will also save on power.
•Dishwashers vary in water consumption from 14 litres to 22 litres per load on a normal wash cycle. Use the ‘quick’ cycles for a more efficient usage and check with the manufacturers before purchasing.
•Ensure that your washing machine and dishwasher are fully loaded before running and avoid rinsing items like glasses and cutlery under a running tap.
•Fill the kettle with just the amount of water you need. This not only saves water, but electricity as well.
Water Efficiency South Africa
Landscape Irrigation Association of South Africa (LIASA)
Telephone: 021 558 4989
Water saving product suppliers
Telephone: Mark on 082 782 3927
Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems
Telephone: 044 532 7544
Akwadoc Water Recycling Solutions
Telephone 082 903 4457 or 072 084 1441
Dammetjies Horticultural Services
Telephone: 041 366 1325
Telephone: 015 293 1414
Rain Harvesting Solutions
Telephone: 086 100 7246
Telephone: 0861 866766