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Easy water saving 101

Easy water saving 101

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One water-saving initiative gaining interest is the use of greywater. Greywater can be broadly defined as non-potable water, i.e. water you can’t drink.

One water-saving initiative gaining interest is the use of greywater. Greywater can be broadly defined as non-potable water, i.e. water you can’t drink.

Easy water saving 101
It seems pretty unbelievable that a country with such seemingly relentless rainfall as the UK could ever suffer from a serious draught situation. However, due to what is known as ‘The Great British rain paradox’, whereby climate change is predicted to cause an increase in both extreme wet and dry weather within any given year, the reality is that we need to become increasingly mindful of the water that we use.

So how can we begin to sustainably reduce water consumption, and make sure that the water we do use gets put to as many uses as possible?

The rise of greywater

One water-saving initiative gaining increasing interest is the use of greywater. Greywater can be broadly defined as non-potable water, i.e. water you can’t drink. The most common forms of greywater that can be collected in our households include wastewater saved from baths, showers, washing machines and bathroom sinks. This water can then be put to other uses that we’d otherwise use tap water for, including for flushing toilets and gardening. So, with the potential to limit potable water consumption, reduce water bills and (quite literally) feed our household plant addictions, we've compiled a guide on how to use greywater efficiently and safely.

Firstly, what not to do

Whilst greywater is technically any non-potable water source, the reality is that not all wastewater is created equal. Toilet water is, of course, a No for re-use at home, as is water from our kitchen sinks and dishwashers due to its high fat content which can kill plants and grass. Especially if you have installed an irrigation system (more on that later), greywater is safe to use, however it is recommended that after collection it’s re-used within 24 hours to avoid the possible collection of bacteria.

Optimising greywater for use on plants

Particularly during the summer months, using greywater on our gardens and plants makes both financial and environmental sense. More good news is that greywater includes small amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus that act as a potential nutrient source for plants, and its soapy quality acts as a natural pest repellent. It is a good idea however to take note of the detergents and soaps you are using at home, with biodegradable and PH neutral products being the most grey water-friendly. Lastly, monitor your plants' reaction to the introduction of greywater and every so often give them a rinse with rain or tap water. Plants that particularly enjoy greywater include fruit trees, yuccas, conifers and hardy herbs such as rosemary and bay. Flowers can also be watered with greywater.

Setting up your greywater system

A DIY home greywater system can be as simple as collecting your wastewater in a bucket for use in the garden or toilet and an old sock or cut off tight that can be put on the end of pipes to filter any larger pieces of debris from your water. This works perfectly well for many people, however, if you decide to make a more long term commitment to using greywater, there are products available that can help you run a more efficient system. Either way, setting up a home system could reduce your water consumption by up to 50%, and your bills by the same amount if you switch to a water metre. The cheapest choice is going to a DIY shop and buying pipes and a water filter yourself, however you can also buy purpose built greywater kits. Whilst it’s very hard to find a system that can collect water from your kitchen, reAqua will fit a grey water system that collects water from both the sink and shower in your bathroom. You can also supplement your greywater collections with the installation of a water butt to catch rain water, or go hi-tech and install a system that pipes rain water straight into your house for use in toilets or your washing machine. Whatever system you go for, opting to use recycled water can be a smart choice for the environment, your wallet as well as your thirsty plants. Get saving!

It seems pretty unbelievable that a country with such seemingly relentless rainfall as the UK could ever suffer from a serious draught situation. However, due to what is known as ‘The Great British rain paradox’, whereby climate change is predicted to cause an increase in both extreme wet and dry weather within any given year, the reality is that we need to become increasingly mindful of the water that we use.

So how can we begin to sustainably reduce water consumption, and make sure that the water we do use gets put to as many uses as possible?

The rise of greywater

One water-saving initiative gaining increasing interest is the use of greywater. Greywater can be broadly defined as non-potable water, i.e. water you can’t drink. The most common forms of greywater that can be collected in our households include wastewater saved from baths, showers, washing machines and bathroom sinks. This water can then be put to other uses that we’d otherwise use tap water for, including for flushing toilets and gardening. So, with the potential to limit potable water consumption, reduce water bills and (quite literally) feed our household plant addictions, we've compiled a guide on how to use greywater efficiently and safely.

Firstly, what not to do

Whilst greywater is technically any non-potable water source, the reality is that not all wastewater is created equal. Toilet water is, of course, a No for re-use at home, as is water from our kitchen sinks and dishwashers due to its high fat content which can kill plants and grass. Especially if you have installed an irrigation system (more on that later), greywater is safe to use, however it is recommended that after collection it’s re-used within 24 hours to avoid the possible collection of bacteria.

Optimising greywater for use on plants

Particularly during the summer months, using greywater on our gardens and plants makes both financial and environmental sense. More good news is that greywater includes small amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus that act as a potential nutrient source for plants, and its soapy quality acts as a natural pest repellent. It is a good idea however to take note of the detergents and soaps you are using at home, with biodegradable and PH neutral products being the most grey water-friendly. Lastly, monitor your plants' reaction to the introduction of greywater and every so often give them a rinse with rain or tap water. Plants that particularly enjoy greywater include fruit trees, yuccas, conifers and hardy herbs such as rosemary and bay. Flowers can also be watered with greywater.

Setting up your greywater system

A DIY home greywater system can be as simple as collecting your wastewater in a bucket for use in the garden or toilet and an old sock or cut off tight that can be put on the end of pipes to filter any larger pieces of debris from your water. This works perfectly well for many people, however, if you decide to make a more long term commitment to using greywater, there are products available that can help you run a more efficient system. Either way, setting up a home system could reduce your water consumption by up to 50%, and your bills by the same amount if you switch to a water metre. The cheapest choice is going to a DIY shop and buying pipes and a water filter yourself, however you can also buy purpose built greywater kits. Whilst it’s very hard to find a system that can collect water from your kitchen, reAqua will fit a grey water system that collects water from both the sink and shower in your bathroom. You can also supplement your greywater collections with the installation of a water butt to catch rain water, or go hi-tech and install a system that pipes rain water straight into your house for use in toilets or your washing machine. Whatever system you go for, opting to use recycled water can be a smart choice for the environment, your wallet as well as your thirsty plants. Get saving!

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