Category Archives: Home

Water Management Tips

The diagram ‘How Water Works’, shows how water recycles itself on our planet on a regular basis.

compliments of howstuffworks.com
compliments of howstuffworks.com

Lately this ‘regular basis’ has changed dramatically. We have entered a few years ago an age of drought and as our populations grow our amounts of water consumption and waste have grown. Interestingly enough, those people who have less water are the ones who will least waste it.
We have to train ourselves to respect water and with it the idea of life in this shrinking world.

Below are some ways of rescuing and recycling grey water as well as clean potable water.  By definition, Grey water is lightly used water from the bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with feces.  Grey water may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products.  In some cases this grey water may be considered as organic.

General

• Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or for cleaning around your home.
• When using the faucet make it a habit to keep one hand on it to minimize waste.
• Most residential water can be easily used at least twice.
• Verify that your home is leak free. Many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
• Repair dripping faucets. If your faucet is dripping at a rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year. This adds to the cost of water and sewer utilities and adds to your water bill.
• Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators

faucet aerators
faucet aerators

with flow restrictors to slow the flow of water.
• Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.
• If you have a well at home, check your pump periodically. Listen to hear if the pump kicks on and off while water is not being used. If it does, you have a leak.
• If you can afford it, redirect your grey water plumbing to a storage outdoors for watering your yard.
• Some of the tips mentioned here will take some time to get used to. Once digested and used to, a faucet with running water rushing out of control, will be devastation to the ears.

Bathrooms

• Inside your house, bathroom facilities claim nearly 75% of the water used.
Toilets
• Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes.
• Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain tank.)
• If the toilet handle frequently sticks in the flush position letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
• Install a toilet dam or displacement device such as a brick,IMG_1954_web bag or bottle to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
• Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
• Some toilet users flush their overnight deposits in the morning. Some people flush by pouring recycled gray water rather than using the toilet tank lever.
• When purchasing new or replacement toilets, consider low volume units which use less than half the water of older models. In many areas, low volume units are required by local building codes.
• Dual flush toilets Dual-Flush_webuse two buttons or handles to flush different amounts of water. However, due to the more complex mechanism, they are more expensive than low flush toilets. Dual flush toilets are required by building codes in some countries.
• The bidet is a wonderful plumbing fixture used worldwide. Its purpose is to wash anything below the waist. Bidets will also diminish dramatically the number of falls by the elderly.
Showers
• Take shorter showers. Replace your showerhead with an ultra low flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
• Place a bucket in the showerIMG_2842_use_web to catch excess water while showering. This grey water can be used to water plants.
• While waiting for the water to warm up, rescue the water from the bathtub faucet with a large jugIMG_2788_use_web or bucket. When warm, use the shower. The rescued water in the jug is potable and could water fruit trees.
• When showering, turn water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn back on to rinse off. Repeat when washing your hair or shave.
Sinks
• When washing the face, plug the sink. That water can be used to shave and pre rinse.
• Turn off water when brushing your teeth.

Kitchens

Dish washing
• Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded. Set the water level for the size of load you are using.
• When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow moving stream from the faucet.
• When washing dishes by hand, rinsing with hot water will make the soap melt away faster.
• A most efficient way of doing dishes by hand is to have a small bowl inside the sinkIMG_2101_use_web and a good size jug on the side. Dishes are soaped with a trickle of water and all rinsing occurs over the bowl. This grey organic water is dumped into the jug and used for landscaping as needed. The grey water can also be used to operate the sink disposal which would require lots of water to operate properly.
• When washing a pan with lots of grease or lard, remove such with a paper towel prior to washing.
Sink
• Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don’t let the tap run while you are waiting for cool water to flow.
• Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
• Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste, instead of using a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals also can add 50 percent to the volume of solids in the sewer system or they can lead to problems with a septic tank.
Water Heater
• Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce water heating costs for your household.
• If you do not have an instant heater for the sink, keep a large jug handy and rescue the warming potable water. This clean water has many uses and it is water that otherwise would go down the drain. Do not drink water from a water heater.

Typical water use at home

(as per USGS):
Bath:   A “full tub” varies, but 36 gallons is a good average amount.
Shower:   20-50 gallons every 10 minutes. Older showers can use up to 5 gallons of water per minute. Water-saving shower heads produce about 2 gallons per minute.
Toilet Flush:   3 gallons. Most all new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, but many older toilets up to 4 gallons.
Brushing Teeth:   Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.
Hands Washing:   1 gallon
Face/leg shaving:   1 gallon
Dishwasher:   6 (newer) to 16 gallons (older)
Dishwashing by hand:   About 8-27 gallons. Depending on how efficient you are at hand- washing dishes. Newer kitchen faucets use about 1.5-2 gallons per minutes, whereas older faucets use more.
Clothes Washer:   25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models might use about 40 gallons per load.
Outdoor watering:   2 gallons per minute, depending on the force of your outdoor faucet.

Garage

• A utility sink in the garage is a wonderful source for recycled water.IMG_2882_use_web Leave a 3 gallon bucket at all times and you will notice that most of the water you’ll use is just fine as grey water.
• Place the drain hose of a clothes washer into this plastic hose IMG_2095_use_web and IMG_2089_use_web

run it to a storage container. Just washing the bedding will fill the 64 gallon container shown at least 3 times.IMG_2075_use_web
The hose if long enough, can also water the landscape as it is draining the washer.

IMG_4713
Proudly grown with gray water

This hose is 24’ long and it pays for itself many times over.IMG_2117_use_web

Outdoors

• When washing the car, use soap and water from a bucket. Use a hose with a shut off nozzle for the final rinse.
• Use a broom to clean your driveway.
• Drought tolerant plants are more than just cacti! For landscaping, use native or other low water use plants. Check with your local nursery for the best native or low water use trees, shrubs and plants.
• Using a layer of 2-3”mulch around plants reduces evaporation and promotes plant growth. Water retaining basins also allow water to be concentrated around the plants.
• When mowing, raise the blade on your lawn mower to at least three inches high, or to its highest level. Closely cut grass makes the roots work harder, requiring more water.
• Drip irrigation exceeds 90 % efficiency while sprinkler systems are 50 to 70 % efficient.
Install a water efficient drip system to irrigate trees, shrubs and flowers to get water to their root system.
• Stack potted plants so that when one drips, it waters the one below.
• When watering potted plants, use a jug or bucket. This will give you an exact feel of how much water you have given the plant.
• To trap rain water for landscaping, use empty garbage cans under the eaves that have no gutters.
For roofs with gutters, connect a large hose to the gutter where the down spout would be connected and store that water in a cistern.

Irrigation

• Adjust sprinklers so only the lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. Check and maintain your sprinkler system regularly.
• Do not water on windy days.
• A heavy rain means you don’t have to water at all. Teach the family how to turn off an automatic sprinkler system in case a storm comes up during the sprinkling cycle.
• Adjust your irrigation schedule to accommodate changes in seasonal water demand. Install an automatic timer.
• Always water during the coolest time of the day to minimize evaporation. Early morning is best, and the peak water consumption hours (4 p.m.-9 p.m.) should be avoided.
• Buy a rain gauge to determine how much rain or irrigation your yard has received.
• Minimize grass areas in your yard because less grass means less water demand. Replace with low water use landscaping.

Final Tips

Use less water and you will extend the life of your septic system, water heater, washing machine and other appliances.
You will minimize pollution and extend the life of this planet.
You will save on electrical for heating fresh water and you will save on your local water department bill until rates will increase to support infrastructure and employees’ pensions.
Water will get much more expensive!

Featured image above compliments of howstuffworks.com

Make A New Bar Of Soap

Making new bars of soap from old used bars of soap is very easy.
It is good for the planet, the wallet and an invigorating self satisfaction.

  • Gather used bars of soap
  • Gather molds that can take heat. Either non stick or spray them with vegetable oils
  • Grate or cut the soap in small pieces
  • Heat water, milk, tea or other preferred liquid in a pot
  • Place soap shavings in the pot and simmer until fully melted
  • Add oat meal, coffee, oils, coloring, aromas or anything you desire
  • Stir all ingredients and then pour into molds
  • Let dry for at least 24 hours prior to removal from molds
  • Let the soap fully dry until it feels ready
  • Enjoy your creation with pride

Similar topics are discussed in this post.

Raking the Tomatoes

Tomato season is almost over and the plant shown is not the greatest example of bounty but the idea here is to celebrate the rake.
Considering the high price of some tomato cages, the sawed off rake that would have been tossed otherwise, provided a certain “free range” for the tomatoes to grow with ample air and sun space. Leave alone hand space for harvesting.tomato_2474a_use_webThe small bungee cords never once severed the branches and easily allowed adjusting as the plant grew. The rake never tilted in any direction because the bungee cords were arranged with a sense of balance and the pole set as deep as possible.
The growth of the tomato plant would gradually make the rake visually disappear.
The pole should be embed 2/3 of its overall length to avoid over turning.
So maybe next year instead of buying a couple of tomato cages, for the same money or less you can get the aging rakes replaced, avoid waste and still support your tomatoes off the ground.
Not to mention a refreshing state of the mind for experiencing something new, a witty solution and for supporting the economy.

Plastic Storage Jars: A Closer Look

These days plastic jars with lids to store dry foods are sold in stores for at least $5.00 ea..
Retail stores also sell foods and many other items in plastic containers which come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, and with no doubt we pay for them.plastic jars_2215_PS_web
Fortunately, we can reuse the containers of the products we purchase rather than just donate them to the garbage companies to capitalize on our recycle.
The labels usually come off easily with paint thinner, rubbing alcohol or can at times be water soluble. plastic jars_2165_B_use_webThe mouths of the jars are of standard sizes and come with colored lids which can be interchanged easily to suit. The jars offer transparency of the contents and keep us neat and organized.

When searching for an item, cupboards with clear plastic jars can be visually scanned at once and render an organized and elegant look.plastic jars_2247_PS_use_web
Plastic storage jars will also allow you to fit more in the cupboards since product packaging comes in all different awkward sizes that do not relate to one another and therefore rob space.

SOME TYPES OF CONTAINERS

Large jars for bulk:  plastic jars_2280_use_PS_webThese are very nice and very good quality large mouth jars good to hold bulk such as types of rice, beans, sugar, flour etc. They were found at Costco some time ago and Biscotti were sold in them.

Tall jars:
plastic jars_2312_use_PS_webThese long and skinny jars are made of a thinner thickness of plastic but they are great for long items such as spaghetti. Target sold nuts and the sort in them. They can also be found at the Popcorn Factory and some flavors have been spotted at the Burlington Coat Factory for a much better price. Sometimes the lids are in aluminum and sometimes in plastic.plastic jars_2276_use_PS_web
Shown in the coffee jar is a flexible cutting mat which becomes very handy in delivering the goods with great speed and minimal spill.
The shape of the jar makes it rapidly possible to pour straight into the coffee maker.
No spoons, no measuring cup and all in the wrist.

Hexagonal/Oval jars:
plastic jars_2286_use_PS_webThese jars were found at Costco. Both types had Chocolates Of The World and the hexagonal ones had jelly beans.

plastic jars_2283_use_webBoth types of jars hold the same volume.

Square tall and short jars:
plastic jars_2305_use_PS_webThese square food jars come in few different sizes and heights. Some of them may have lids that flip open to pour, they have built in handles and can be found anywhere. plastic jars_2302_use_PS_webThey are very handy for potato chips and cereals.

Peanut butter type jars:
plastic-jars_2320_use_MS_webplastic jars_1786_MS_webThis is a very common classic peanut butter jar but it could be found at Target holding nuts.
The plastic is tough, thick and durable. Very handy in the garage to hold screws, nails, nuts and so on.

Cheese type jars:
plastic jars_2310_use_MS_webFound in supermarkets usually in two sizes these Parmesan cheese jars are handy to store goods and food. Their lids flip open allowing pouring or sprinkling.
They can be very handy for smaller quantities needing storage such as sour gummy bears and worms on the go, pastina, polenta, dry beans and so on.
plastic jars_2313_use_MS_webVery handy for delivering Miracle Grow with no mess.

Spice jars:
plastic jars_2331_use_MS_webMany types of small plastic storage jars are in the spices section of supermarkets. They provide an interesting assortment and are very handy for arts and crafts as well as many small items.
The ones shown are the Mrs. Dash brand. The lids come in different colors and the plastic is thick and strong.
Use them to also store the different kinds of beach sands of the world you encounter on your vacations. You will be surprised in the difference in the colors of the sands.

CD Containers:
plastic jars_2291a-_use2_MS_webWhen the compact discs are all used up we end up with a container that works well in impaling all kinds of tapes we have roaming in the garage. This container makes it a focus that this is the only place where the roll of tape we left behind should be. The rolls of tape could however at times be too wide to fit.plastic jars_2288-use_MS_web With the center rod removed, these containers could hold other kinds of items.
The CD containers also stack and interlock rather nicely.

Tip:
Samples of jars above have proven to be good every day gifts to friends, highly desired donations to elementary schools or local industries such as Goodwill.
Give plastic jars a second life and help reduce waste on the planet!

Hanging Clothes

Drying clothes and storing coat hangers
in a garage can be practical.clothes_1789_webHang plastic towel bars from joists or where possible.clothes_1843_use_webTo hang clothes up high use a tool like the one shown below.
It is a hook screwed perpendicularly to a long pole.
The one shown has its hook anchored between 2 plumbing washers and held by crazy glue.clothes_1845_use_web