Monday, September 17, 2007

Water, water, everywhere? Not in this part of the world!

Water is such a fundamental and precious resource. Anybody living in southern Australia - or any other dry part of the planet will appreciate how significant it is. Without water there is no life - we cannot grow anything, we cannot drink, we cannot survive. Yet, we still waste so much of this resource, even in this part of the world! Living in an area where the town water is absolutely awful (bore water very high in minerals), we mostly use tank water in our household. Unfortunately, with the very little rain we have received over the last two or three years, our tanks have not been full in a long time and we have to conserve as much water as possible in our household.

Using water also means using energy: we have to use electricity to pump the water from the tank to the house and we have an electric storage hot water heater. The electric storage hot water heater will have to go at some stage and be replaced with a solar-powered heater. To reduce our energy use, we use as little water as possible.

We installed "triple AAA" rated shower heads when we moved in. They reduce water flow to 8 litres per minute.

I only have a shower once a week (one can wash oneself perfectly adequately with a flannel every day) and when I do have a shower, I keep it to two minutes, just enough to wash my hair.

The children have a "proper" bath once a week, otherwise they also get washed with a flannel. The bath is always a great event - three little boys in a bath tub together is great fun and they all get really excited when it is bath day again!

The toilet only gets flushed when necessary ("If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down!") - bad smells can be avoided by adding a small amount of vinegar to the toilet bowl and keeping the lid down when not in use.

We do not pre-rinse dishes before putting them into our dishwasher, instead, we scratch left-overs off. When we got the dishwasher I did a lot of reading on whether it is more efficient to wash dishes by hand or by machine. My conclusion was that if using an energy- and water efficient dishwasher, the machine is definitely the way to go. I have not regretted my decision, neither in terms of water savings nor in terms of saved labour! This of course only works if the dishwasher is full when it is being put to work.

The same goes for the washing machine. There are some fantastic models out there that use a very small amount of water and are very energy-efficient.

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