02 March 2007
Taps & Tools To Save Water
We told you about the recyclable pipes and tubes we used for the water installation but what about the water that runs through them? How can we REDUCE our water consumption?
We looked into actually REUSING some of our water, like for example the water from the bathtub to flush the toilet. Or other waste water to water the balcony plants. The trouble with recycling your own water in a small apartment is that you need a deposit to store it, taking up quite a bit of space. And then you need a pump due to Newton’s law on gravitation and the fact that water doesn’t flow upwards. The pump needs more space and energy to run, so not such a great solution. You might say we should use the water from the flat above us and we have thought about that too. The trouble is that our dear neighbour would not be very happy if we started building works in her home and for a start, her bathroom is right on the other side of the flat to where ours is situated… So, that leaves us with more humble solutions but no small results nevertheless.
The secret lies in the tabs. You can get a low-flow faucet aerator for your existing taps or get a tap which has one built-in if you’re buying a new one. This small and easy to install device costs around €3 and saves you up to 50% of water by mixing the water with air bubbles. You won’t notice any difference as you brush your teeth or rinse the dishes but filling up the bathtub might take longer. Our bathroom taps are from the Spanish brand Roca and are all equipped with low-flow faucets.
In the kitchen however we installed a truly eco-friendly tap by another Spanish company called Tehsa. Tehsa specialise in water saving taps and water systems for hotels. Apart from having built-in low-flow faucets, the handle helps saving water in the sense that it opens first half way and only if you flip it up harder does it release the full amount of water. That way you don’t end up with wet trousers and can control the flow much easier. The other difference to ordinary mixer taps is that when the handle is in the middle, it doesn’t power the hot water. This is because we automatically open the tap with the handle pointing straight out, even if we don’t need hot water. With this tap, the hot water only starts running when you point the handle to the left. These three features make the Tehsa tap the best tap for saving water.
Now the other big one to save water on is the toilet. Here we went for a Stop Flush system, which means you can control the water you need to flush the toilet. You flush once, the water runs; you flush again, it stops. Another option would have been the half button system, where you can choose between using 12 litres or 6 litres to flush. And then there is the ‘Conscious Tank’ by the Terra Foundation. A clever piece of technology (a rubber band), which costs you €0,02 and provides you with 2 years of less water down the toilet.
Last but not least we have the washing machine which depending on its use and model, can save you more or less water. We went for a Fagor one (Model FT-309) since it’s a local brand, and found a washing machine with eco-fuzzy system, meaning that they adjust the water and energy consumption depending on the wash load. And of course it has been rated an ‘A’ for efficiency.
So much for tools but the rest is up to you… ‘brushing your teeth with the tap running wastes almost 9 litres a minute; just taking a five minute shower very day, instead of a bath, will use a third of the water, saving up to 400 litres a week; you can use less water by turning the hot tap down, rather than the cold tap up, if you require cooler water; a dripping tap could waste as much as 90 litres a week’ (from the BBC's A to Z of water saving tips).
And check out TreeHugger for 50 Ways To Save Water!