Water is a precious commodity in South Africa and, along with electricity, is a big expense for many homeowners. We explore the many ways to do the right thing and save water, as well as the water saving technology and home updates available to help you save on your utility bill. Being waterwise means thinking about every millilitre you use – every leak, every running tap, every bowl or bucket of water that you throw away.
First check for leaks
• Your water meter can help tell you if you have any hidden water leaks. Here’s how: take a reading on your water meter at a time when no water is being used. Check it again two hours later. If it doesn’t read exactly the same, there is a leak.
• Leak detection system: Invest in a device with an inbuilt control valve which automatically shuts off the water supply if a leak or a burst pipe is detected. Products range in cost from R1 250-R4 500.
• Here’s a nifty way to check if your toilet is leaking: add some food colouring to the tank and if the toilet is leaking, the toilet bowl will have changed colour within 30 minutes.
• Did you know: if a tap is dripping at a rate of 1 drop per second, you could be wasting up to 10,220 litres per year? Repair dripping taps by replacing the washer – this video explains how.
• Check if your toilet handle stays in a downward position. This means that water is constantly running which indicates that it’s time to replace or fix the handle.
Water saving in the home
If you can change your habits in every area of your home that uses water, you can achieve big savings on your bill:
• Kitchen: Use a plugged sink to wash dishes instead of washing them under a running tap. Don’t thaw frozen food under the tap and use clean water in a container instead of a hosepipe to water your pot plants.
• Bathroom: Wherever possible, shower instead of taking a bath and place a bucket in the shower to collect water for your plants. Don’t let the tap run while brushing your teeth and wash your hands with the plug in.
• Laundry: Only do washing when you have a full load. If you are shopping for a new washing machine, choose a water-efficient model – e.g. front loaders are more waterwise than top loaders. Invest in an eco-wash ball – these innovative balls claim to eliminate the need for washing powder and hot water washing altogether.
• Swimming pool: Don’t fill your pool too high as it will mean more water splashing out of it, and keep it covered to reduce evaporation. You can also look into getting a poolside tank which clarifies backwash water and returns the water safely to the pool.
• Car: This won’t save you money but a reputable professional car wash uses far less water than your DIY version. If you must, wash your car with a bucket and sponge only – not a running hose.
A waterwise garden
• Choose waterwise indigenous plants where possible. Ask a plant expert at your local garden centre for advice.
• Attach a water tank to your drainpipe to collect rainwater. You get all kinds of versions these days starting from R1 999: horizontal, vertical, slimline and even submerged, so there really is no excuse not to!
• Don’t overwater your garden. Look out for dark mushy roots, brown spots on flowers and fungal growth – all signs of too much water.
• Apply mulches to soils and garden beds to reduce water loss.
• Switch off irrigation when it’s rainingor attach a rain sensor.
• Choose a sprinkler system with a large droplet size and low spray angle.
Water saving technology and home updates
• Low-flow showerhead: This update to your shower will reduce the amount of water used. Less water used means less water that needs to be heated, saving you electricity as well.
• Investigate using your grey water –that’s the water from washing clothes, cooking, bathing and showering which can be used to irrigate vegetables and herbs as well as gardens. Please note: the content of grey water must be carefully monitored to prevent the spread of diseases such as E. coli. We should also mention a fresh water system, it harvests rain water http://www.waterrhapsody.co.za
• Swap old toilets for dual-flush toilets, which use about a quarter as much water for a small flush.
• Insulate your water pipes: This will mean you’ll get hot water faster, avoid wasting water while it is heating, and also save money on electricity.