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Feb 3, 2018

Water Saving Tips From Metal Windows

Drastic times call for drastic measures. When it comes to being water-wise, there is still so much we can learn. Metal Windows CEO Larry Forman shares some practical tips he uses around the home that we can implement at home too!

Plastic Water Barrel

Harvest your own water: Larry purchased four plastic drums of 250L capacity each, along with connector fittings for gutter down pipes and placed the plastic drums below the downpipe spouts in order to harvest rain water.  These are relatively low cost and will help you to increase your water harvesting.

Tip: dark coloured drums discourage the growth of algae so choose dark drums. Water tank alternatives: Water tanks are expensive and they are hard to get hold of as the high demand has created waiting lists. A good interim measure is rubbish bins with around 120L capacity each, which you can install at the base of your gutter down pipes for harvesting water.

This is one of the cheaper ways to catch the most water. A tap or hose fitting in each bin, made of irrigation components, make the water easier to us. The bins are raised on concrete blocks so that it’s easy to put a bucket under the tap. Larry also created a hole in the lid so that the pipe can go right down into the bin. Washing machine water: Larry advises that he collects washing machine water and that they have reduced their washing to three loads a week for their family. In a similar way, the grey pipe on the back of the washing machine is directed into a barrel. They then reuse the water for a second wash load and then harvest it in 5L containers for flushing the toilet.

Grey water around the house: Flush the toilet with grey water from washing yourselves, your clothes and your dishes, as well as rainwater. Of these, dish water is by far the stinkiest and dirtiest. You can’t really store it, especially in warm weather. Everybody knows the mantra of “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, and if it’s brown, flush it down”. Flushing less means using less water. But it’s really not ideal to have your wee sit in the toilet bowl for hours. There are various enzyme products like ProBac and vinegar that help, but you do end up with a stinky bathroom. So pouring a 5L of washing machine water down quite regularly helps. Another issue is toilet paper. Women wipe more than men do and if you put all that paper in the toilet, without flushing every time, it will soon block up. Solution: small bin with a lid next to the toilet. All the paper goes in there which you can empty into a bin outside. Empty it frequently, and wipe it out with a bit of vinegar every now and then.

Washing differently: “One of the great ironies of this drought is that middle-class people like me have had to learn how to wash in the way that is perfectly normal for the majority of South Africans,” explains Larry. “It’s surprisingly easy to stay clean without using lots of water,” he adds. “You can wash yourself thoroughly in about 5L of water.” Use a small plastic tub with clean water to start with, and stand in a large plastic tub to catch the water that runs off as you wash. A sponge or washcloth works well to soak up clean water and squeeze it out over yourself.

Another tip: use body lotion instead of soap. It works the same as soap as far as cleaning goes. In fact, people who are allergic to soap wash like this all the time. The reason this saves water is that, unlike soap, it’s not harsh on your skin. “It’s not absolutely crucial to rinse off every speck of body lotion, although I find that it rinses off easily in any case,” adds Larry. Eco-friendly detergent Using the right detergent is important too. “We use earthap laundry powder which comes in handy 2L plastic buckets,” explains Larry. These are perfect for use in a basin as it is earth friendly and natural so it’s perfect for using the grey water, for watering the garden. A bowl or bucket in every wash basin and sink helps catch all those little trickles of water as you rinse your toothbrush, or your hands. And it helps make collecting dishwater much easier.

What about the dishes: Washing dishes only once a day means piles of dirty things attracting flies. To prevent that, pile everything into a container with a lid. Or cover the sink bucket with a dish towel. Dishes can easily be washed in a plastic bowl that fits inside the sink so that none of the water goes down the drain, and you can then reuse this water to flush the toilet. Contact: Metal Windows

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