South Africa has limited water resources so even at the best of times, we should all be thinking about ways to save water, with the added benefit of reducing our municipal water charges,” says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.
“Having everyone at home during the lockdown has really brought this into focus – and also made us realise that it’s relatively easy for home-owners to do, just by making a few small alterations and easy behaviour changes.”
Here are a few ideas for you and your family to try:
If you have a leaky tap, replace the washer immediately. A tap leaking at the rate of one drop per second will waste around 10 000L of water every year.
Fit bathroom and kitchen taps with inexpensive aerators or flow restrictors. A showerhead fitted with a flow restrictor will use only about 7L of water per minute compared to 20L a minute for an old-style showerhead
If you have an old-style toilet put a 2L plastic bottle filled with water into the cistern to reduce the amount of water used with each flush. The new-style toilets with flat cisterns only use about 3 to 6L per flush.
Try to restrict the time that your shower water actually runs to less than three minutes. The wet-wash-rinse method is most efficient. Use a bucket to save any water you run while you wait for the shower to warm up.
If you have small children and prefer to bath them in a tub, put them all in together, and find ways to re-use the water afterward.
In the kitchen, start by keeping cold drinking water in the fridge rather than running a tap until the water gets cool, and thaw frozen food in the fridge or microwave instead of under running water
Don't rinse hand-washed dishes under a running tap. Use a basin of clean water or if you have a dual sink, fill one side with soapy water and the other with rinsing water
Wash your fresh fruit and veggies in a laundry basin, not under running water. Then re-use the water in the garden.
Don't use water-hungry kitchen-sink disposal units. Rather try composting which is an environmentally friendly alternative.
Don’t run a dishwasher until you have a full load and similarly, try always to wait until you've got a full load before you use the washing machine. If you do a half load, adjust the water level accordingly. See if you can channel the greywater from the rinse cycle to be re-used in your garden.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a borehole on your property, that can really help reduce your use of municipal water. The water will need to be tested if you’re going to drink it or wash in it, but you can certainly use it to water the garden, preferably through an irrigation system to make it most efficient.
Consider increasing your access to “free” water by installing rainwater harvesting tanks to catch the runoff from your roof and then connecting these to the parts of your home that use the most water, like the bathrooms and the laundry. On average, a roof area of just 100sqm will generate around 75 000L of runoff a year, which would be quite a saving for the average household.
After spending an extended time confined within our home, our once cosy spaces can easily start to feel more like a prison than a place of safety. For homeowners who are looking for ways to keep motivated within these challenging circumstances, a change in environment can help boost morale and make a space feel like new.