By Roelf Nel

Water Saving Ideas

What is grey water?
Any wash water that has been used in the home, except water from toilets, is called grey water. Shower, dish, sink, and laundry water comprise 50-80% of residential “waste” water. This may be reused for other purposes, especially landscape irrigation.

Why use grey water?
It’s a waste to irrigate with great quantities of drinking water when plants thrive on used water containing small bits of compost. Unlike a lot of ecological stopgap measures, grey water reuse is a part of the fundamental solution to many ecological problems and will probably remain essentially unchanged in the distant future. The benefits of grey water recycling include:

  • Lower fresh water use
  • Better treatment (topsoil is many times more effective than subsoil or treatment plant)
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Less energy and chemical use
  • Increased awareness of and sensitivity to natural cycles
  • Plant growth
  • Reclamation of otherwise wasted nutrients

Grey Water System
A grey water  system can be easily connected to your down-pipes on the outside of your house – either by yourself or the supplier. Your grey water system supplier will usually provide you with one or multiple hoses and sprinklers, spread around the garden. The supplier will also provide you with a pump that is strong enough to pump through two sprinklers simultaneously, covering up to 60 m² of your garden at once.

Common grey water problems

  • Storing grey water becomes a problem as it becomes progressively anaerobic (due to residual aerobic bacterial activity that exponentially depletes the dissolved oxygen). It is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Grey water that is not treated properly is ‘fatty’ and gives off an offensive odour (from the build-up of dissolved anaerobic and sulphide gasses), especially when stored for a few days. It can smell really badly when irrigated out over vegetation.
  • Laundry, bath and kitchen sink wash water typically has a high fat content (from soaps, body and cooking fats), causing grey water to become slimy – not good for the grass

Basic ways you can reuse grey water

  • While waiting for the shower water to warm up, catch the water in a bucket, you can use this water for your plants.
  • Wash your dishes in a dishpan, then dispose of the water into your compost heap.
  • Left over water in your water bottle can be used to water a plant.

There are many small lifestyle adjustments you can make to conserve water. Get creative, have a discussion with friends and family, come up with a group plan on saving water.

Follow Buildforce’s board Greywater Systems on Pinterest.

By Roelf Nel

Do you want a green minded home?

A green minded home is characterized by five main categories:

  • Materials and resources
  • Sustainable site
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Quality of the interior air

Some ideas on how to implement a green minded home:

Solar Panels

With Eskom’s load shedding schedule and woes having solar panels may become a solution to the constant load shedding that South African’s experience.  Solar panels use the sun’s energy to power your home.  Solar energy can be used to heat water, provide electricity to appliances and lighting.

Build to your advantage
Consider building your house in a place that uses the surrounding environment and its positioning to your advantage.  This passive design strategy focuses on using an ambient energy source; include daylighting, natural ventilation and solar energy.

LED and Natural Light
Using LED lights or natural lighting is cheaper and lasts longer than ordinary light bulbs. Natural light is, obviously, the best choice, since it has no negative effect on the environment, causes no waste and actually uplifts the psyche of the home’s inhabitants significantly.

Here are some advantages of using LED Light Bulbs:

  • LED lights are more durable and robust than conventional light bulbs, they can also be made significantly smaller than conventional bulbs and can be used in flashlights and other small devices
  • LED light bulbs are energy efficient – producing more light per watt than incandescent bulbs which results in cheaper LED lighting costs when compared to regular lighting
  • LED lights don’t contain the toxins found in incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, such as mercury
  • LED light bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs. Normal light bulbs have an average life span of 1,000 hours but an LED bulb has a life span of between 40,000 and 60,000 hours.
  • LED lighting operates at a lower temperature than incandescent light bulbs, less energy is wasted in heat production and subsequent heat loss

Green Your Walls and Roof
Have you considered growing plants on your walls and roof?  This offers many beneficial effects such as:

  • They insulate the building,
  • prevent noise pollution,
  • emit healthful Oxygen and absorb Carbon Dioxide

Growing vegetables on your roof will also ensure that you have organic food available to you at no extra cost or effort.

Grey Water Systems
Grey water is reusing your water; you can read more about grey water on our recent blog.

What does your green home look like?

Follow Buildforce’s board Eco Friendly Homes on Pinterest.

Water Saving Ideas
Do you want a green minded home?