Water… Small savings to go a long way

Water is vital and there is no ways we can use none – if only to drink… And this is something that I will always put first when looking at my stock. I can go for a day or two without a shower or postpone laundry but I need to know that I can drink water without counting.

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But this is in the setting where water is not available in my house or nearby…

Where water is available in the house, how do we use it and can we make some savings?

I have mentioned situations where water is scarce even at the tap due to drought. While this is an extreme situation in a developed city, this can still be an eye opener for all.

In many places, we have sewage that collect our “grey” water (waste water) to send to treatment plants and feed back into the system. So we don’t look so much at what we use. In the extreme situation that we have in Cape Town this year (One day in… Cape Town – Water restrictions…), we collect this water as much as possible to use for the toilets and the plants, reducing the use of clean water where we can.

And there you see other savings that you can make (most I knew already, but did not need to implement as we had other ways). Even if not doing it to save water supply, this can also translate into reducing the water bill by reducing water usage…

I have always turned off the water when using the soap in the shower. But using communal showers in campsites, I came to realise that this is not the norm for everyone…. The most common saying is that we use 20 litres when taking a shower (and 80 litres when taking a bath). I have always wondered… now, I have used shower bags and have collected water used in a “normal” shower.

And I have found that when using a shower bag, I use 3 litres (but then, I am careful because I might not have that much water available). But to my surprise, when using a normal shower, I used between 5 and 6 litres “only”… I do stay under the shower for my needs – not standing under the water for the sake of it 😉 but the best saving is to turn off the water when not in use: get wet, close tap, shower, rinse, done!

So compared to an average 20 litres shower, I can save 14 litres per day or 5’000 litres per year for 1 person…

Brushing teeth
Using a cup instead of running water when brushing teeth will save (for me) at least 500 ml a day or 180 litres per year per person… (see Water… how much do we use? How much do we need?)

If you have a tank that have the 2 functions, use the small amount whenever possible – this flushes around 6 litres instead of 10-12 litres every time.

If you have a toilet with only one size flush, add a brick or a stone in the water tank so that you reduce the volume of water to 6 litres. A lot of toilet have a 12 litres capacity and this would save 6 litres per flush… which can be high for some people. If we base on 5 flushes a day per person, this will be 30 litres per day or 11’000 litres a year…

Even if you only reduce by 1 litre for every flush, calculate how many litres this will amount for your household every year…….

Hot water
When you open the hot water tap, either for shower, dishes, laundry… you first get cold water and you let it run until it is warm… Collect that cold water in a container and use it for your plants, bird feeder, dog/cat, washing your hands, your car… the list is quite big as to how you can use this water… The amount you will collect will depends on your piping and how long ago you have used hot water before this time, but it is often around 1 litre on a cold pipe. So again, this will amount to over 700 litres per year if we consider that you only do it twice a day…

When using a washing machine, if you do not have one of those fancy machines that calculate water according to weight, ensure that only do full load. Most machines use 40-50 litres regardless of the load and so 2 half loads will “waste” 40 litres (plus double electricity).

When hand washing, use smaller capacity bucket and not a big sink: to achieve the same effect when you soak your clothes, you will need less water. And, less water also means less washing powder that you need to dilute…

[now, I have to admit that while I can use 10 litres per week which will be half a load, I will use the washing machine anytime if I can… and be “happy” to use this extra litres a week…. one luxury that I do miss, especially when washing my bedding… 😉 ]

If you have a garden, collect rain water – even if only collecting a small amount (and not 10’000 litre tank…) you will still have this water for your plants that you do not use from the main…

Any further suggestions for a “normal” household? I will update the post if you add any in the comment section…

(Also check How to manage water restrictions at your home)

4 responses to “Water… Small savings to go a long way

    • Indeed… my main fear on the road is to lack water…
      In Tanzania, I always carry an extra 10 litres that I can share: there is always people on the road with a break down and recovery can take long so they are running out of water…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Cape Town – Water restrictions… | mayandmeinafrica·

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