With summer creeping up on us here in South Africa there is no better time than now to start getting into the good habit of saving water. Water restrictions have been ongoing in the Western Cape for the last year, and although we haven’t had any in the Northern parts of the country yet, it seems inevitable after what we experienced last year and the lack of rain so far this year.
So, you want to make a difference and save water, but you live in a flat, in the middle of Joburg (or some other moderately big city), with no garden, no space for a Jojo tank and no rainwater to collect. How on earth can you save water?
Well, here’s some water saving tips and uses that have changed our water using habits. All you need is one bucket and a shower.
How to Save Water:
One of the biggest water wasters is the shower.
We all know the drill. You open the tap, walk away and let the water heat up until it’s ready to get in. It’s a bit of a catch 22 because you can’t set the geyser too high or your electricity bill will shoot up, but you also don’t want to shower in cold water. All of that water coming out of the tap while you wait for the water to heat up is a huge waste, and it’s also the best place to start your water saving journey.
Here’s what to do:
Get one of those rectangular buckets with a strong handle.
Place it directly in line with where the water falls from the shower head.
Open the tap and let the water run until it’s hot.
Now take out the bucket – it might not look like much, but that half a bucket is a full bucket in two days’ time and three buckets in a week.
How to Use your Saved Water:
Now the question is how to actually use all the water your saving when living in a flat. Here are 5 uses for your saved water.
1. Water the plants
No matter how small your flat we all have some form of plants. For us it’s balcony plants but you might have indoor plants. These plants also need water.
Use your shower saving water to water these plants instead of new water from the tap.
Another nifty tip is to get yourself a pressure sprayer. This way you won’t over water your plants and they will get the sense of getting natural rain. Really great for happy plants.
2. Fill your toilet’s water reservoir
Did you know flushing a toilet uses 6 litres of water with every flush! That’s crazy.
You already have your saved water in the bathroom so why not simply pour it into the toilet reservoir (the top piece).
Remember to turn off the tap leading from the wall to the toilet otherwise, your toilet will keep on filling itself up in any case.
3. Wash or rinse the dishes
Seeing as the water is already in a bucket you can easily carry it (ok it’s a bit of a gym exercise but how great would it be if you built some muscle while saving water) to the kitchen and use the water to rinse your soapy dishes. It’s a bit difficult to wash dishes in cold water but if push comes to shove this can also be done.
Nifty tip 2: We try do our dishes once or maybe twice a day. Living in a flat with minimum people makes this easier so why not take advantage of the time you would have spent doing dishes and rather enjoy it.
4. Fill the washing machine
Washing machines use huge amounts of water, up to about 120 litres per wash!
In and out and in and out it goes and we don’t even realise.
Your bucket of water might not fill up your whole washing machine, but it’s a start and by filling up the machine with your own water and letting it take less water from the tap, also means your washing will be done quicker.
It’s a win-win situation if you ask me.
5. Wash things… the floors, your car, windows, anything really
The easiest use is really just to use this saved water to wash things.
You might have a car that gets ridiculously dirty with dust etc. in the city and don’t want to take it to the carwash every week (or don’t want to pay for a car wash every week). Why not use your saved water to wash your own car once a week. It’s great exercise and a really good way to cool down in the coming summer if you don’t have a pool.
You can also use the water to wash the floors. This might seem like the most obvious option but we all want clean floors from time to time, so why not use your saved water instead of running the tap.
You can literally wash anything with this saved water. It’s clean and unlike collected rain water has no leaves or insects in it so it really is perfect for cleaning the house.
Bonus Water Saving Tip:
Most flats in Joburg seem to still have baths along with the shower. This is pretty irritating especially in a one bathroom flat where space is key. But why not put your bath to some good use?
You can use your bath to store all of the water you are saving (because it will soon become too much for your bucket believe me) until you need to use it. It’s exactly what baths were made for and now you can fill it to your heart’s content without even opening the tap.
We all need to be more aware of our water usage. Being water wise is not only smart but can save you money and gives you that little bit of pride that you’re doing something good for something bigger than yourself. Now that’s always worth it.