Practical notes on how to save water on...

Saturday, 20 November 2010


It's important to use biodegradable soap & cleaning products when you are re-using your bathwater to water the garden, as normal soap takes a long time to break down from complex chemicals into more useful simple substances that plant life can absorb. So I thought I would write something on biodegrable soap...first of all, look out for vegetable based solid soap like Marseille soap or glycerin soap. Glycerin soap is usually translucent. Marseille soap uses olive oil as a base.

If you prefer to use liquid soap or shower gel, rather than solid soap, you can make your own shower gel by:

[1] grating solid soap into flakes

[2] putting these into an old shower gel bottle with some hot water

[3] Shake the bottle for a few minutes and leave it to stand for a day or too.

This is then ready to use. This is also good for the environment because it stops you buying shower gel bottles which then have to be recycled or just thrown away, ending up in landfill. If you can't be bothered with that, you could use solid soap in the shower, if you have somewhere to put it... you can put in on a string and hang it up above the bath. The best way to do this is to use a screwdriver to grind a hole by hand through the centre of the bar of soap and thread some thick cord through this. Its best to hang the soap high up so its not in the water stream, this way it will last longer.


As for biodegradeable cleaning products to clean your bath, try using soda crystals or borax. You can buy these sorts of products in cardboard boxes (again less plastic waste) from Clean and Natural by DRI PAK. If you scrub this powder onto the surface of the bath with a bit of water and leave it for a while before washing it off again, it is pretty effortless -on a par with stronger household cleaning products but with less ecological impact. These products are easy and safe to use and odourless. Soda crystals are produced by a relatively simple chemical process which means its more easily broken down, unlike phosphates which are found in more modern cleaning products. for more information on this subject see this page on toxic water by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)

Friday, 12 November 2010


Hello again!

I wanted to talk about the WATER TWO and dispell a few myths about drainage and what happens when water goes down the plug hole. All water from the kitchen sink, the bath, a wash hand basin, the shower, goes down a pipe into the sewer. All drainage or waste pipes should have a U bend where water collects, to stop bad smells rising up the tube and filling the house, but beyond the U bend or "trap" the tube will be empty, most of the time. If you were able to look inside a drainage tube around your house, it would probably be empty -it is not full of dirty water all the time like the sewer underground -it is usually empty until someone.... lets the plug out the bath, or the sink, or runs the washing machine.

If you go to a hardware store you can buy straight lengths of drainage tube and bends but not valves as normally there is no need to have a valve.... however, if you are keen to save water a valve is very useful to divert greywater to recycle it for other uses like watering your plants.

A company in the UK sells drainage water valves called WATER TWO -this neat device lets you divert water from your bath for use in the garden. You attach it to the down pipe directly from the bath -this relatively clean water can be recycled to be used in the garden. When you take a bath leave the plug in. Go outside turn the WATER TWO valve to divert, then pull the plug out the bath and open the spray on your garden hose to start watering all those thirsty flowers.

This is one of the pathways identified in my previous post on the water use hierarchy. This is a great way to water your garden at no extra cost and you can fit it without getting wet! This also lengthens the pathway of the water between water treatment cycles as water will naturally be filtered by the plants before ending up in the atmosphere or travelling to the nearest river or water course. This means by the time the water  reaches a water treatment plant (via a river or lake) to be converted into drinking water, it is already quite clean.

A bath uses up to 80 litres of water and if you have a shower over the bath, using shower to collect water, this might collect 40 litres of water. Bathing uses roughly 30% of all household water and provides a regular and reliable source of water for your garden, unlike rain!

If you are keen to start using a WATER TWO diverting valve then you must use it responsibly, remember that bathwater is not as clean as water direct from the tap:

Don't store this water in a barrel. Over time, e.g 1 or 2 days or more, microorganisms like bacteria will multiply and you want to avoid this as you will come into contact with this bacteria as you water your garden.

Don't spray plants directly, water the soil.

Don't water plants that you are going to eat, e.g. lettuces.

Do use environmentally friendly soap. Products with low salt (Sodium Chloride), Boron and Phosphates are better. Avoid using bathwater that contains bleach or other household cleaning products, these chemicals will not be good for your garden.

Don't use the WATER TWO system if someone in your household has an infectious disease or diarrhoea, because watering your garden could increase the risk of other people becoming ill.

Greywater tends to be a bit alkaline, so flowers like Azaleas which prefer acid conditions don't grow well with this type of watering. Clay soils have low permeability so can't absorb water easily and may not cope with absorbing the salt found in greywater.  Keep an eye on your plants, if they look weakened by greywater, alternate use with normal watering from the tap and water different parts of your garden to spread out the exposure to greywater.

Once you have watered your garden, remember to wash your hands before you eat!

Friday, 15 October 2010


as part of BLOG ACTION DAY [] -or- BAD ! I will be showing you how to make some simple steps towards using less water around your home.

How to use less water to flush the toilet - a quick resolution you can start using today....

If you have an old 13, 11, 9 or 7.5 litre WC consider fitting a water dispacement device inside your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water flushed down the toilet every time you flush. 6 litre toilets were being fitted from 2001 in the UK to comply with new water regulations -this advice is not for a 6 litre or less system -its for older installations only! Some people might recommend using a hippo to do this - in my opinion this is not necessary, just get a plastic milk bottle -wash this out and fill it with fresh water, leave the top off and place it inside your cistern. You might need to try a 1 litre bottle instead, see what fits best. If its tricky to see what fits then turn off the water at the mains and flush the toilet to drain out the cistern, then take the lid off and see if one or two 1 litre bottles can be sat inside the cistern....

Remember any toilet needs 4 to 6 litres to perform a powerful flush. If you are not sure how big your cistern is 9 litres, 13 litres, 6 litres etc then measure the width depth and height of the cistern in centimetres and do the following sum:

width x depth (front to back) x height of the water in the tank

then divide the answer by 1000

this is the number of litres (generous estimate) that your cistern holds. The more bottles you get in the more water you save but don't over do it....

How much water will you save? well... it depends ....toilet flushing is probably about 30% of your water bill so if you cut it by 3 litres, say improving from a 9 litre flush to a 6 litre flush you have just saved about 10% of your water bill....

happy plumbing! .... and remember that's precious drinking standard water you are flushing down your toilet and even though you might find messing about with your cistern a bit gross -you are lucky! yes lucky! -some people in the world don't have a toilet at all which leads to a much more messy, stinky and altogether unsanitary existence!|Start Petition

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Reading your meter

water meter. So... as I was saying before -if you do have a water meter it will (probably) read in cubic metres - this one shows 1285.4058 cubic metres. The red figures are after the decimal point.


For Blog Action Day 2010 I 'll be writing about how to save water on the 15th Oct but just for now I wanted to say the first step to saving water is actually getting a meter because having a meter shows you just how much water you are using. Saving water is just like going on a diet -like counting calories -you have to know where you're know where you are going to get to. Knowing exactly how much water you used last month really helps you to work out -am I doing OK? Could I be doing more? The average person in the UK uses about 150 litres of water every day or 0.150 cubic metres (which is what your meter will read in). So, in a month, you should use about 4.5 cubic metres per person in your house. The best new housing in the UK under something called "The Code for Sustainable Homes, Level 5 or 6", requires new houses to achieve 2.4 cubic metres per person per month. -How are YOU doing?

climate change research paper

see my research paper on climate change and air conditioning at:

Climate Change in Housing

Friday, 17 September 2010

Water Use Hierarchy

As you can see from my diagram, there is a HUGE opportunity to use less water in our daily lives with the right equipment to hand. Currently we use drinking quality water -cleaned to a very high standard for everything -even flushing the toilet -which is total madness when you think about it! Ladies and Gentlemen - I give you the "Water Use Hierarchy"! [click and zoom in]

We use a lot of water but we need to be aware of what the worst things to do watering the garden with a hose and leaving the tap running whilst you brush your teeth...

How much water do we use?

80 litres = a full bath

50-65 litres = one load of laundry in the washing machine

25 litres = one load of the dishwasher

70 litre = power shower (typical use)

6 litres = (IF) you leave the tap running when you brush your teeth

35 litres = normal pressure shower (typical use)

30-40 litres = to wash the car with a bucket

6 to 13 litres = to flush the toilet (depends how old your cistern is)

400-500 litres = watering the garden with a hosepipe

400-500 litres = washing the car with a hosepipe


click and zoom to view...

Friday, 12 March 2010

biking for laundry

This webpage is really interesting, this guy not only has a laundry service that save electricity and leaves him in good shape but also gives him complete control of his laundry washing waste water. this water could be used for watering plants in the garden or flushing the toilet after the spinning is over. According to using a washing machine for one load uses approximately 65 litres of water. Considering per person we use typically 150 litres per person per day this is quite a lot of water. When I was living by myself I would running the machine once a week, so recycling 65 litres, i.e collecting water from the washing machine and pouring on the garden or using it to flush the toilet etc would save roughly 6% of my water in a week, and what a workout! This is equal to about ten flushes a week saved.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

we need better water saving products -where are they?

Despite Gary's comedy moustache he does make the point that there are actually very few products on the market to help you to save water effectively. In the UK the legislation for water saving is still very weak and the perception of water saving very much takes a back seat to saving energy. There are some basic things you can do to save water:

Chose an "A" rated washing machine

Don't leave the tap running whilst you brush your teeth

Wash your car with a bucket and sponge rather than putting your car through the car wash

Take showers rather than baths

If you live in an area which gets water from a DESALINATION plant, every time you save water -you are also saving a lot of electricity. Desalination plants take sea water and turn this into drinking water. In fact generally speaking, the two things often go hand in hand, saving water, saves electricity... as all water coming through you tap has to be treated to drinking water standard and pumped to your home.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Hey welcome to Water Aware! Take control of your water use and the safety of your supply with Water Aware. We will be looking at water issues from around the globe and how people go about securing safe water supplies.