The Eco Advantages of Recycling Household Water

If each accommodation was to commit itself to becoming a green home, the beneficial effect on the world would be huge.  Looking at recycling household water as a single issue, both the householder and the government would be financially much better off.

The ordinary household uses gallon upon gallon of water every week.  This life-supporting liquid has been made drinkable (potable), via processes which make it fit for human consumption.

Treated water enters into the building and is used in the kitchen and the bathroom.  Once used, the water is classed as grey water (cloudy and already used), except for the water from the toilet, which is sewage and labelled black water.  When exiting the house, grey and black mix and the water goes off to a sewage plant, for treatment.

In the normal household, it is estimated that fifty to eighty per cent of water used becomes grey water which, if kept separate from the highly contaminated black water, can indeed be used again.  Though the water from showers, dishwashers and washing machines cannot be drunk, it can be used to water the garden, clean the car, or do general cleaning.

Re-using untreated grey water can be done simply, by catching the shower water in a bucket, or re-directing the pipe from the washing machine through a window and into the garden.  The water upon exit may be warm, so allowing it to cool first is a good idea, though do not allow it to stand for more than twenty four hours, as the water will also contain nutrient and pathogens, which will thrive in the warm environment.  As regards to washing machine water, it is important that the laundry agents are biodegradable and low in phosphate and salt levels, as these can have a negative effect on  the soil.  If grey water contains any bleach, dyes or other unfriendly products, you should consider it to be black water and not re-use it in any way.

Rather than making the process of re-using grey water a manual task, the plumbing system in a modern building can be two-fold, one system for elimination of black water and the other to capture and re-use the grey water.  Filtration can also make grey water fit for washing, though it will never be pure enough for drinking.

By re-using grey water, the amount of water used will be greatly reduced and, in turn, the benefits will be recognised when reading of the water meter.  Also, less used water will arrive at the sewage treatment plants, reducing the cost of recycling the water back into the system.

Thinking about how we use water is an area we can all address and can be the first step in developing an energy-efficient accommodation.