Fresh water is both a scarce resource as well as an expensive one. You should try cutting down on your fresh water consumption and recycle it where possible with methods such as rainwater collection and reusing grey water.

Often, we use fresh water unnecessarily, such as when watering our plants, washing vegetables in the kitchen or flushing the toilet. So, here we will give you a few examples of how you can cut your fresh water consumption and recycle your already-used water.

Collecting Rainwater

Rainwater collection is a simple and easy way to ensure that you are dramatically reducing the amount of freshwater that you use, as well as your household bills.

An example of this is gardening. Your plants don’t need water that is fit for human consumption. They only need the water itself. This means that by collecting and storing rainwater, you can keep your plants hydrated on a hot day without the need to turn on the tap.

You can set up the rainwater catcher yourself at home by following these steps.

  1. Find a good location to collect rainwater. This will be an area next to a sloped roof, for example.
  2. Choose your barrel. You can choose as big or small of a barrel as you need.
  3. Place the barrel. You should make sure that your barrel is sitting against a flat piece of ground.
  4. Prepare the barrel. You can place a spigot at either the bottom or the top of your barrel, whichever you prefer. If needed, you can also set a piece of mesh over the top to ensure that your water is kept free of any bugs.
  5. Keep your barrel clean. You should empty and clean your barrel at least once every twelve months

Please check your local laws regarding rain barrel collection.

Collecting Warm-Up Water

Many of us will often run the tap for a while before it gets hot, and this process can take an exceptionally long time if the boiler is far away from the tap. The water that runs before the hot water reaches your tap is called ‘warm-up’ water and is often wasted without serving any purpose.

One straightforward way to ensure that you do not waste any water here is to place a bucket, or any container of your choice, under the tap to catch all of this ‘warm-up’ water. Typically, many of us will have ‘warm-up’ water that is perfectly safe to drink.

This means that you can recycle it almost anywhere in the home – even to make your cup of coffee!

Warm Up Water

Collecting Grey Water

Grey water refers to water that has already been used for a purpose. For example, this can be water used for a shower, in the bath, or even do a laundry load. When recycling grey water, one thing to note is whether the water is used or if it now contains any chemicals.

For example, if you have used bleach to clean your bathroom, you will not want to collect and reuse this water to water your plants as this may be toxic to them.

On the other hand, if you have simply washed your clothes without any harsh chemicals, then this grey water may be perfectly fine to use in your garden. The most important thing to take note of is what you are putting into your water.

You can collect grey water either manually or because of re-plumbing your house. The former is significantly cheaper, but it will require more work. For example, when taking a bath, you can remove the water from the bathtub using a bucket and store it for future use. However, this will take a lot of time and effort.

Alternatively, you can choose to install new pipes that will collect and store the grey water for you. This new plumbing will require a three-way valve to ensure that your used water can either be sent into the grey water collection tank or the sewer system. This will ensure that you do not overfill your grey water system.

This method is significantly more costly than removing the water by hand, but it will be worth it in the long run if you are truly committed to watching your freshwater consumption. However, you should always check with the plumbing codes in your area to ensure that you are legally allowed to change the plumbing to include a three-way valve.

These types of grey water, where the water has been contained either with soaps, hair products or cleaning products cannot be used for the garden but can still have a use around the home. For example, you can use this grey water to flush the toilet by simply filling up the toilet bowl.

Summing Up

There are many different reasons why someone may choose to reuse and recycle water. This can be to cut down costs on their monthly bills, to help be more eco-friendly or even just to live off the grid. There is no right or wrong way to save water and you should always choose the method that is best for you.

If you choose to save water by collecting, cleaning, and storing rainwater, you should consider using a trial barrel before committing to more. This will allow you to see how much storage you need and sort out any problems with keeping the water clean.

If you choose to save water by recycling and reusing it, then you can either collect the water by hand or install new plumbing to account for this. Again, choose the method that best suits you.

Image by Bas van deen Wijngaard via