Posts Tagged ‘Water’

Water-efficient shower head

ecocamelJust seen the EcoCamel aerating showerhead – their test results claim a more pleasant shower with almost 50% of the water consumption of a standard shower. At the moment they are £40 for two – not the cheapest option, but a major saving if they work as forecast. Not only do you save water, but also they save the energy required to heat that water – assuming you’re not a devotee of cold showers! Potentially it could also mean that you ned to install less Solar Hot Water panels, which would be a significant saving!

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Creating a home greywater system

Just a quick pointer to a video from Peak Moment that I’ve posted over at le Jardin Potager looking at building a greywater system to reuse our waste water for watering the garden. This is a nice system, not too energy intensive and very food-focussed. To view the post go here: Creating a home greywater system.

A Cast-Iron Garden Hand-Pump

handpumpAnother nice resilient piece of equipment. Assuming you’ve got some local water storage – hopefully big rainwater tanks – you need to be able to get to the water in case of long power shortages, where mains water is likely to be unavailable and power cannot be spared for electric water pumps.

Here’s what you need, a nice traditional Cast-iron hand pump. It’s only £35 and should last a lifetime. If you’re not planning on getting little kids to do all the pumping for you there is a matching stand available for another £35 which brings it up to a reasonable height.

Another one to add to the shopping list!

Shopping List – latest update

Steadily firming up the shopping list for our new house – here’s the latest list, with links. 

Kitchen

Dining Room

  • Expandable table

Playroom

  • Instant-heat to stand in front of (Gas?)

Lounge

  • Wood-fired stove
  • Central Pendant light in diffusing shade – 12v CFL?
  • Two Standard/Reading Lamps – 12v CFL?

Garden

  • Kitchen Scraps Compost: Black Soldier Fly Composter / Worm Farm 
  • Firewood store, and at least 12m³ of wood
  • Greenhouse with Aquaponics system

Heating & Hot Water

Power & Light

Water

Reducing our Water Charges

Having been looking at increasing our resilience and reducing our impact by using rainwater internally from a large Rainwater Tank, one thing to note is that it can also save us money. Firstly we need to get a meter fitted, so that we’ll only pay our standing charge plus actual water usage. If we’re not using any external water then, according to United Utilities’ Rate Sheet we could be paying as little as £43 a year – saving about £100 a year. Secondly we can apply for a reduction in our Sewerage charges as the water will no longer be entering the sewer. It’s not a huge reduction  – about £34 a year on the fixed charge, plus about £100 a year on consumption charges, but better than nothing! 

So in total we’ll probably save just over £200 a year – not enought o make it a no-brainer investment decision, but certainly a nice bonus for something we were already wanting to do.

Rainwater tanks

grafcarat6500lAs promised in my previous post about drinking water, here are my thoughts on our rainwater storage.  In our current home town of Brisbane, Australia, the dams that supply our drinking water recently bottomed out at around 14% capacity. The severe water restrictions that we’ve had for years have meant that even in our inner-city suburb about half the houses have rainwater tanks, as without them you are effectively not allowed to water your garden. These aren’t your British-style 200 litre water-butt either. Hardly any would be less than 3000 litres, most would be 5000 litres, and quite a few have 10,000 litres. We’ve currently got two 3000 litre tanks, plumbed into to an underground weeper hose that runs through all the garden beds, controlled by a programmable timer that runs the two watering circuits on alternate days. This has ensured that we have kept our lush tropical garden alive through a seven year drought.

What it doesn’t do is supply any water to the inside of the house. For a while we did use it for our washing machine (a separate tap that we connected the cold water hose to) but as this required a manual changeover it only happened rarely.

To peak-oil-proof our water supply I want our UK system to be fully plumbed in to the house and able to supply our basic, emergency  requirements, and ideally all our requirements. I’m going to try to do this relatively scientifically – based on the Tank Size Calculator from RainWater Harvesting. Manchester provides a very different scenario to our Brisbane rainfall – there’s 400mm less a year for a start, and it is more evenly spread thoughout the year, minimising the need for a huge tank to cope with peaks and troughs.

With our roof area (about 100m2) and Manchester’s annual rainfall (806mm) we can expect to collect around 64,500 litres/year (at 80% efficiency). That sounds like a huge amount, but when you consider that our current water consumption is around 250 litres a day, we currently use 91,250 litres/year! So to be self sufficient in water with our current roof size we’ll need to reduce our in-home water consumption by around 30% – that looks like the subject of another post!

So what size tank do we need to make sure that we collect as much water as we can, without wasting any? I concocted my own monthly water use chart, based on meeting a target of 170 litres/day (then found out that there’s a very good one in the RanWater Harvesting spreadsheet!).  From looking at this (below) I’ll have a shortfall of 3000 litres in the first year – so in this table I’ve pre-filled the tanks with 3000 litres to ensure that they don’t drop below zero. In reality this “top up” would happen in stages during the year depending on our actual daily consumption to give us the chance to be extra-economical as the levels drop. 

  Rainfall /mm Water Collected /litres Available Litres
/day
Water Used
(170 l/day)
Net
Water
Storage at Start   & End of      Month
Jan 71.5    5,720 184.5     5,270 450  3,000     3,450
Feb 51.8    4,144 148.0     4,760 -616  3,450     2,834
Mar 64    5,120 165.2     5,270 -150  2,834     2,684
Apr 49.1    3,928 130.9     5,100 -1172  2,684     1,512
May 53.8    4,304 138.8     5,270 -966  1,512       546
Jun 66.8    5,344 178.1     5,100 244     546       790
Jul 59.5    4,760 153.5     5,270 -510     790       280
Aug 70.9    5,672 183.0     5,270 402     280       682
Sep 69.9    5,592 147.2     5,100 492     682     1,174
Oct 86    6,880 221.9     5,270    1,610  1,174     2,784
Nov 81.9    6,552 211.4     5,100    1,452  2,784     4,236
Dec 81.4    6,512 210.1     5,270    1,242  4,236     5,478
Year 806.6  64,528 176.8   62,050   2,478    

In this our water storage peaks at around 5,500 litres, so unless we manage to keep at or below our tight 170l/day target for several years there is limited benefit to installing a tank any larger than 6,000 litres

Tank Suppliers

Resources

Aims and Achievements

I’d been planning to put together a list of aims and achievements since I talked about it back in August. In the great pause between Christmas and New Year it seems appropriate to finally get around to it! So here is my quick brain dump. I’ll expand on this as I achieve some of them:

Food

  • Build up a store of 1 year’s supply of food that we eat. Try to ensure that we are storing the ingredients for food that won’t keep – e.g. store UHT milk to make short-shelf-life dairy products as required, ingredients for bread etc.
    • Work out what we eat in a year
    • DONE! learn to bake bread from base ingredients
    • learn to bake good, light, everyday bread!
    • learn to make basic pastas
    • learn to make and wax hard cheese – cheddar, parmesan and more
    • learn to make soft cheeses that we use – feta (soft and hard), mozzarella,
    • learn to make other dairy products that we use – sour cream, yoghurt
    • learn to preserve and store fresh food that we grow, or that is only seasonally available locally.
    • learn to make jam
  • Find a network of  local producers and suppliers, and use them as much as possible.
    • reduce our dependance on supermarkets to less than 50% of essential food
      • reduce our dependance on supermarkets to less than 10% of essential food
    • reduce our dependance on non-local food – less than 50% of essential food
      • reduce our dependance on non-local food – less than 10% of essential food
        • remove our dependance on non-local food – no essential food from further away than 100 miles, 90% within 50 miles

 Waste

  • get milk (and juice if possible) delivered in reusable bottles
  • shop for a month with no plastic bags
  • compost all kitchen scraps, so that all waste from the house is “dry” and doesn’t need plastic bags
  • halve the packaging we use in year 1
    • reduce it by 10% every year
  • Halve our general refuse in year 1
    • reduce it by 10% every year thereafter
  • put in a compost toilet
  • put in a greywater recycling sytem for all water from bath, shower, washbasin, washing machine

Growing our own food

  • setup our aquaponics system
    • harvest fish from our aquaponics system
      • breed our own fish, thereby closing the cycle
  • harvest winter vegetables from our own plot
  • get an allotment
  • grow 50% of our own fruit and vegetable requirements
    • grow 80% of our own essential fruit and vegetables
  • keep chickens for eggs

 Energy

  • work out how much electricity we use, and try to devise a plan to provide that by renewable means
  • reduce our fossil fuel use by 10% a year
  • store at least a year’s supply of firewood
  • have a heating/hot water system that will work with at least two different fuel sources
  • have a cooking system that will work with at least two different fuel sources
  • don’t buy or use a tumble dryer
  • retire our powered mower
  • provide all our essential power needs on-site, for at least a month
  • provide 50% of non-essential power needs on site

General Resilience

  • provide 100% of essential water requirements on-site for 3 months
  • provide 50% of all water requirements for 3 months.
  • “live” within a bikeable radius (public transport if necessary)
  • learn to sharpen tools

Community

  • Join local allotment / gardening groups
  • Get involved in Manchester FOE
  • Go to Green Drinks
  • Team up with other local growers to ensure that we can have some “cover” if we ever go on holiday.
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