Home > Eco Friendly Renovation > How to Utilise Water Saving Systems

How to Utilise Water Saving Systems

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 5 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Property Roof Plumber Plumbing Kitchen

The three golden rules of ecological sensitivity are to reduce, reuse and recycle, and these apply just as much to water as to any other resource. Since the first widespread droughts in the early Seventies, people in the United Kingdom have had to relearn what they knew until the end of the Nineteenth Century, that unlimited, clean, pure drinking isn’t ours simply by right.

Reduce and Reuse

The first step, that of reducing water usage throughout the home, is part education and part technical. Families need to be reminded about water use, that, for example, leaving taps running and taking baths instead of showers, is no longer acceptable. The technical work involves various devices; spray tap and showerheads, bricks or other items in lavatory cisterns and the like.

But although it’s more common on the continent, reusing and recycling water is something that very few people in the UK do. Reuse and recycling of water requires systems to store, clean and redirect it.

Grey Water

There are three types of water to be dealt with, clean drinking water and soiled water (i.e. from the lavatories) being two of them. In between those two is ‘grey’ water. This phrase has entered common use in the last decade or so and describes water that has been used but doesn’t carry particles that are considered a health hazard. This might be washing up water or water from a shower, bath, washing machine or dishwasher.

Reuse of Rainwater

Rainwater can be considered to be grey water; it would be unwise to drink it without filtration but it can be gathered from the guttering downpipes, saved in butts and used to water gardens or wash cars immediately. To use it inside the house, perhaps for washing, or flushing the toilet, it has to be collected in a closed tank, which can be underground if space is tight, and filtered before being pumped back into the house for reuse.

Filtration of rainwater is necessary to remove any larger particles that come down from the roof, which would eventually block the plumbing. It also stops the water going stagnant in the system. Systems that do this are referred to as rainwater harvesting systems and there are a number on sale in the UK today.

Reuse of Grey Water

Similar systems collect grey water from the outflows of sinks, washing machines, baths and the like and, again after filtering, it can be used to flush toilets or water the garden. Opinions differ as to whether grey water can be used on the garden without filtration. Some believe that it’s fine as long as natural biodegradable soaps and wash powders have been used (in particular sodium and phosphorus should be avoided), other still feel it needs filtration.

The major work involved in installing one of these systems is usually the re-direction and doubling up of piping systems. This is because toilet waste and grey water often share the same pipes on their way to the sewer. The grey water has to be collected in a new separate system of pipes which then has to be extended, usually with pumps, to put the cleaned grey water back into the house or out to outside taps for the garden, or perhaps to wash cars and bicycles.

Can You Drink Grey Water?

Finally, it’s worth taking into account that local processing is not always the best thing for the planet, when everything is taken into account. While it is possible to clean and filter grey water or rainwater for drinking or cooking, it is very expensive and creates a lot of waste by-product from the filters.

Most ecology commentators believe that it’s best to use tap water for this purpose, as the environmental damage from the centralised cleaning of water is lower per head of population than doing it individually.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • dilem
    Re: Adding A Porch
    We have a terraced house on which we would like to add a porch hoping it will reduce traffic noise coming from the road. There are exactly two…
    3 September 2019
  • Holland&holland
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Were in the process of placing an offer on a very large welsh property. Built in the 1700s by a very well known architect. Its in a…
    26 April 2019
  • Junick
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    I own a cottage that we bought as a garage/store. It has no electric or water to the property but it was owned at one time by the…
    4 April 2019
  • Art
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Just bought new house need to build porch.. please contact on 07445430526
    3 April 2019
  • Ang
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Hi We are buying a semi detached stone cottage built around 1814. It is not habitable . Are there any grants we can apply for ,…
    1 February 2019
  • Sheza
    Re: Renovating a Pond
    Hi I have a raised pond on my decking and I’m thinking of ways in how I could add to it so it’s bigger but I’m currently struggling in how I…
    26 January 2019
  • Dav
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Hi I've build a porch to the front of my home, it a detached house with a garage that comes out 600mm passed the front of my house which is included…
    13 January 2019
  • Mitch
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    @Vicky - you won't get a grant for this sort of revovation. No one is going to pay you to renovate your own home, sorry. Not these…
    17 September 2018
  • Dan
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Hi I’m thinking of building a porch on the front of my house and I was wondering if I can join it to my next door neighbors house because I’m in a…
    16 September 2018
  • Vicky
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Hi I am looking for funding to reinstate a farm house that is over 100 years old and has been derelict for 30years. Do you know who I…
    15 September 2018