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Environmentally friendly water saving taps – the conundrum of how to save water

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This post has been on my mind for quite a while, it’s been milling in my subconscious like a lazy fly. So today I got the electric fly-zapper out and started writing. We all know that water is the cheapest scarce commodity in the world. No-one really sits every month and studies their water usage. The fact is deep down in our subconscious mind it is also milling around like a lazy fly that we can save some water, but we all think that we do not know how, and we are all too lazy to save water through the methods that we do know. Bit of a circular reference going on here. Ok, so lets see where and how we can save water in the bathroom/kitchen/garden.

  1. Just use less of the stuff in the first place!
  2. You do not need to buy very expensive basin mixers to save water, just replace the aerator which is attached on the spout of the mixer with a water saving one. You will quickly not appreciate this move for the water saving aerators reduce the volume of water by at least half, that means doubling the time to get anything wet under the tap.
  3. The same goes with shower heads.  Unscrew the shower head and at the back there is a small stainless steel grid with rubber.  Replace it with a rubber seal with a smaller hole so less water can flow through the shower.  In that way you can stand twice as long under the shower and rinse half the conditioner out of you hair in the morning when you are late.
  4. The same applies to your kitchen sink mixer.  Replace the aerator so that less water can fill your 20 L sink bowl (some how Lewis Carroll comes to mind).

I think you can get an idea of my opinion of water saving taps.  For all the critics and conscientious objectors, I am very much for saving water and energy saving, if it was possible I would drive an electric car. But the thing is, all these methods of reducing water flow out of taps and mixers does not really reduce water usage. I have tried a couple of water saving shower heads and I just hate it (I removed it and passed it on to my two sons shower, but after a while they left a green odour trailing behind them so installed the V8 shower head again). I do agree installing these types of technologies in public ablutions and lodges, because everyone using these facilities think these resources are for free, endless and it is their right to use as much they can to get as much as they can out of the amount they are paying for the night. Long sentence I know but it is true, just like hiring a car, no matter what type it is it becomes a 4X4 off-road, F1 on the main highway and taxi when transporting your co-workers.

Installing water saving taps can make a difference, standard taps release about 15 l/min at normal pressure and water flow. Water saving taps can reduce that amount down to 6 l/min. It is a good idea to install these taps, however, I don’t think that is where the real water saving point is. No matter how little the flow of water is through the tap, the longer you leave it on, the more water you waste. Its simple maths. If it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling installing the taps, do it, I assume your fuel guzzling SUV in the driveway also gives you that warm fuzzy feeling (the pun is intended, I know you have a right to reward yourself). Real world water saving happens when the following is done:

  • First of all, let me re-iterate, just use less of the stuff. With that mind-set you will see a difference on your monthly account.
  • Find the leaks in your piping. mmmmmm….. not so nice job and it can cost you.  Leaking pipes such as irrigation pipes, toilet cistern valves, worn out tap valves, leaking pressure regulating valves at the entrance of your home waste more water than you will ever be able to save.
  • Educate your children.  I’m not going into that, we all know they know more than we do, since they receive more info in school at a younger age, than what we have ever read about the subject.
  • Change your attitude, or try and change other’s attitude, it is not the poor that must learn how to save water, they do not consume as much as we do (we are the rich because you are reading this blog and it is available on the internet, so you have access to technology, so you have money, so you are rich in comparison. You don’t carry water on your head every morning). Just taking a bath uses more water than any poor person can carry on their head.
  • Irrigating your garden is one of the most wasteful practices I know of.  Very view people irrigate their garden optimally. Most gardeners over-irrigate. It’s a fact. Get a rain meter and install it in your garden. you don’t need to irrigation more than 60-80mm of water per week. Lawns usually need 30mm a week. A little water stress will increase the reproductive organs of plants (thus flowering) and you will have less mud over weekends in your house.
  • Wash you SUV with a bucket of water, not with the hose on the whole time.

The biggest users and wasters of water are industry (especially mining). Not only do they waste the water, they pollute it to such an extent that farmers cannot even use the water for irrigation and some have to close their farms. The people that can really save water are the politicians that need to change policy, and with the price of water at the moment, there is no drive or pressure to do anything. Changing the aerator is a good beginning, using less water every day is better, change our country’s water policy, that is the ultimate.

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