super cheap, simple grey water

one big change in owning my own home is having to pay my own water bill.  as we get into the growing season that will certainly affect our gardening habits, while taking showers i’ve been thinking of how to re-plumb my bathroom to collect grey water to water the garden.   i’ve been imagining doing rainwater catchment off the roof with large totes.  thinking about the low-flow drip irrigation to install.

in a place like the great lakes region, it’s easy to forget how important water is. we take it a little for granted.  even more so when your landlord pays the bill.

certainly i wouldn’t say i’m a water hog, i take short showers, i let it mellow if it’s yellow, but still i could be a lot better – and getting a water bill has made me think more about how to save water.

until i get those totes for the garden, i’m focusing on simple methods to save water.  nothing major, but a few little things that save water here and there add up to a lower water bill, and saved water.  best of all they require absolutely zero plumbing to do, so those that are not too handy can still do it.

1.  shower with a bucket.  when i start the water, i tend to let it run until it  gets to the temprature i want to shower with.  that’s a bunch of water wasted.  when i stop taking a shower, the water has to drain out of the shower head and the tap, another bit of wasted water.  my solution is to put a five gallon bucket in the tub and catch the water at the beginning and the end, and it grabs a little extra during the shower portion too.

bucketubtotal savings is about 4 gallons of water.  not a huge, but i take shower most days – so in an average month i  figure i save about 100 gallons of water this way.  it can easily be used to bucket flush the toilet, or water the house plants.

2. use a tub while doing dishes:  think of all the water just going down the drain.  instead filling the sink (which frankly is too shallow in our house any way) we have a tub that we put in the sink to wash dishes in.  i start with an inch or two of water and soap, wash the flattest things such as silverware and saucers first and then every time i rinse, capture the rise water in the tub.  with each batch of dishes rinsed i raise the water level and wash dishes that need more water with each progressive batch.  here is the tub all filled up with all the water i used for doing dishes – wash and rinse water. kitchentubthis is about six gallons that i can then take outside and water the perennials with, or add to the compost pile (but not annual food crops without some sort of filtering and processing).  six gallons of reduced water use.  it’s actually more, since i’ve made double use of water – wash and rinse are combined, if i’d filled the whole tub up to wash and then rinsed with other water, i would have used at least 9 gallons of water to wash dishes total. even if i don’t bother to take the water outside (and why would in freezing cold months) i still saving at least 3 gallons a load.  since i do the dishes at least once a day in an average month i figure i’m saving 270 gallons in warm months and 90 gallons in a cold month.

between these two methods i calculate 3,360 gallons of water saved.

what are your low tech or other solutions to saving water you use?

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5 responses to “super cheap, simple grey water

  1. Thanks for sharing. Simple steps to start with. The true value of this blue gold will become obvious in the coming years. The more we can do to preserve this lifeblood of the planet the better.

  2. You can also install low-flow shower heads, low flow devices on taps in sinks, and use a high pressure-1.4 gallon tank on the toilet. Only wash clothes when you have a full load. And take you car to a car wash, rather than washing in a drive way. They are set up to use less water.
    You’re ideas are good also!

  3. and car washes generally recirculate at least some of their water. if you feel compelled to wash at home, drive the car up on the lawn (if you still have a lawn) and wash it there to let the water soak into the soil. or wash with a rag and a bucket of soay water, using the hose for rinse only.
    if you are lucky enough to have a laundry tub, you can move the outflow flex pipe from the clotheswasher to the tub. place dirty cleaning rags in a big colander and and direct the wash water over them. free prewash. now the rags can wash with a regular load, having had the worst of their “yuck” removed.
    we have an upper storey balcony. we placed white corrugated steel sheets underneath to catch water coming thru the decking. these direct the water to a downspout which has a box which can move the water to rain barrels. when the barrels are full, the diverter automatically sends water thru the “normal” guttering system. we got four 55-gallon barrels at a store selling home beer and wine making supplies. liquid malt had been in them, so they are “food grade” plastic. and they only cost $20 each, making the project feasible. they are connected in line and sport spigots near the bottom of each to withdraw water for the garden. even with pipes and fittings they were way less expensive then the commercially available ones and require minimal handy-person skills to put all together.

  4. Pingback: replacing my old toilet with a low flow one. | little house on the urban prairie

  5. Pingback: preparation for greywater | little house on the urban prairie

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