Water is a finite resource, yet something we need all of the time. That means the cost of water is going to continue to rise, so it is smart to look at ways to save water. We have compiled ten of the best actions you can take to secure your water stockpile.
1. Harvest rainwater
South Africa is a very dry country, despite the country’s unbelievable rainstorms. Don’t be fooled: most of that water does not hang around. So turn that to your advantage and install a rainwater harvest system. This can be as simple as placing water tanks at the receiving end of roof gutters. But there are various choices and systems for both homes and commercial properties. This water is not safe for drinking, but can be used for gardens and general cleaning.
2. Fix Leaks
Let’s say you can earn a cent for every second. In an hour you will earn a mere R360. But keep that running and within a year you would have earned over R300,000. Small things can culminate into giants. The same goes for dripping taps. If a tap drips once every two seconds, it culminates to nearly 6,000 litres of water per year. Most tap leaks are simple to fix, requiring just the replacement of a washer. If this is done once a year, your taps will also last longer. The usual response to a drip is to tighten the faucet, but this damages the mechanism inside.
3. Go Low Flow
Replacing popular water outlets with low-low taps or attachments can boost the conservation of water, especially for a business. A low flow system typically uses between a quarter to a third less water than regular outlets.
4. Recycle grey water
Water saving becomes very effective once you include grey water. Grey water is any used water from a premise that does not contain heavy organic matter (so not sewage, which is called blackwater). A common suggestion is to put a bucket in the shower and reuse that water on plants. Greywater can also be captured from clothing washing machines and dishwashing, providing an eco-friendly detergent is used. Large volumes of greywater can be captured from sinks and tubs, then used for irrigation.
5. Insulate water pipes
When someone wants hot water, they will let the tap run until they get that. But if the pipes between the geyser and taps are cold, the water takes longer to make the journey while still fully heated. Insulating pipes on the outside with foam strips is a cheap and effective way to retain heat and deliver hot water faster, thus reducing water use.
6. Install supplementary geysers
Following on the problem of hot water, another reason why people keep taps running until they steam is because the geyser/water heater is located too far away from the tap. For example, geysers might be installed closer to bathrooms and further away from kitchens. Installing a smaller supplementary geyser close to the kitchen will save a lot of water and time. If you invest in a small solar heater, it will save on electricity as well.
7. Water in the early evenings
South Africa’s sun is water-hungry, so when you water your garden try to do it in the cooler hours. This doesn’t mean you need to get used to midnight irrigation. But watering plants in the late afternoon (after 4pm) or in the very early morning (before 5am) will radically reduce the amount of water evaporation and allow the liquid to soak deeply into the ground.
8. Don’t keep taps running
This should be common sense, but many people do it. Keeping a tap running while doing something – rinsing dishes, washing vegetables, brushing teeth – is hugely wasteful. That is like going to a bar and being continually charged for your drink until you finish it. We don’t realise that running a tap for even a minute can waste litres of water, yet it is one of the easiest behaviours to change if you want a big slump in your water bill.
9. Choose the right plants
The bear’s share of water in South Africa goes towards gardens: up to 40 percent of a typical suburban home’s water usage is for lawns and plants. The problem is that many of the plants we nourish do not belong here. Foreign plants, whether from drier or wetter parts of the world, can’t regulate their consumption the way local plants do. Consequently they slurp far more water than they should. A giveaway is when a shrub or tree grows incredibly fast. That is usually a sign of a foreign plant. You may also notice the soil becoming drier and poorer around the plant. If you want to save water, use indigenous plants. This does not mean foreign plants are off limits. But keep them small and controlled, preferably in pots.
10. Promote Awareness
A number of the measures on this list have to do with our behaviour. We should all be promoting responsible water use, but this is particularly important for companies. Staff may not shower or cook at work, but they consume water in lots of other ways at work. Considering the number of people on a business premise every day and all that irresponsible water usage adds up quickly. But promote the smart use of water and it can be a big difference when the utilities bill arrives.