Posts filed under ‘Saving water’

Water conservation comin’ down the pipe


When it comes to saving water, I think we can use all the help we can get. Although I haven’t tried it for myself, I really like the concept behind this new “Dorsey Eco-Performance” water-saving kitchen faucet. Moen has built in three water-volume modes. When you just need to give something a rinse or a gentle soak, there are two lower-flow rate modes, including one with an aerated spray, that run at 6.6 litres per minute, but are designed to wash better than simply opening your tap part-way. But for those times when you need to fill a pot or blast some icky scrap of food off of a pan, there’s a high-volume mode at 8.3 litres per minute.

No doubt water-saving showerheads have saved Canadians loads of water from being wasted. It makes sense that the kitchen tap would be the next in line.

October 23, 2009 at 2:27 PM Leave a comment

Efficient Toilets: Less is more

Choose well

Choose well

My partner and I are warily embarking on a bathroom renovation. We’re skirting around it, starting with peripheral components and seeing how it goes. To give you an idea of what that means, we’re beginning our reno by repairing our downstairs bathroom first, so it will be OK to use when our other bathroom’s a mess. The downstairs bathroom has some cracked tile, and we found extra pieces of the tile in our basement (thank you, former owner!), so we’ll learn how to cut and affix tile in our “practice” bathroom first. We’ll also practice replacing a toilet. That sounds easy, but ahh, you have to choose a new toilet before you can install it!

After much review of the models at various home stores and manufacturer’s websites, and consideration of factors such as bowl shape, bowl height, insulated tank, style and colour, we wanted to consider the environmental factors as well. Luckily, most of the available toilets are now water misers at six litres per flush compared to the 13 litres some older models use. But I discovered a type of toilet that I think makes particular sense: the dual flush toilet. These toilets use half the water to do their No. 1 job, so you save a lot of water just by pressing the right button. And apparently the City of Toronto agrees: they offer $60 or $75 rebates for replacing a toilet with an efficient model, and the toilet we chose earns a $75 rebate. Even if you don’t live in Toronto, you may find their list of water-saving toilets helpful.

In purchasing a toilet, performance is the other major factor. After all, you’re not saving water if you have to flush twice. This page provides background on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ testing standards and links to a list of performance reports by toilet model.

Now we just need to install the toilet! Let me know if you have any tips!

September 1, 2009 at 12:44 PM Leave a comment

Saving water with rain barrels

Let it rain

Let it rain

We’ve had some sunny, dry weather in the past few weeks and I’ve had to water our garden a few times, even though I’ve tried to train the plants to deal with dry spells (sorry, stunted tomatoes!) Over the rainy weekend, I found myself a bit obsessed with collecting water. My partner and I installed a rain barrel in our back yard last week, but we hadn’t had much rain to see how well it performs. Well, we got our wish — on Saturday it rained so hard that we could have filled several rain barrels. The overflow valve on the barrel shown here was spewing water for most of the afternoon, even after I filled up juice containers and other vessels I found by mining through our recycling bin.

The rain barrel sits on a wood bench that’s mounted into the edge of our deck, perfect for use with a watering can. We reworked the eavestrough a bit and added a new piece of downspout so it would sit on top of the rain barrel and direct water through the barrel’s screened top. Next time the barrel is empty I’ll have to put some spacers under it so the bench doesn’t rot!

We bought this 190 L barrel from Canadian Tire. I like this one because it has a flat back, so it can sit against a wall. I plan to put another one of these barrels in my front garden, positioned against the house. I bought a gravity-feed watering kit from Lee Valley to connect to that front-garden rain barrel so that when the soil dries out, I can just open the spigot and let gravity do the watering.

How do you water your garden?

July 27, 2009 at 10:43 AM 1 comment

Saving water around the house

Small drops add up

Small drops add up

While working on a “For Keeps” page for Homemakers magazine’s June issue about water conservation (For Keeps is the clip and save story inside the back cover), I decided to narrow the focus of the story to saving water outdoors. I found a few indoor water conservation tips that I couldn’t use in the magazine. Beyond remembering to turn off the tap while brushing my teeth, (I know, I know!) here are a few tips I thought I’d share:

– Install one of the new low-flow showerheads. They’re better at distributing water, so you feel nice and warm, and you can still get the shampoo out of your hair in spite of the lower water volume. (Am I the only one with that problem?)

– Replace aging toilets with low-flow models. Can you believe an old-school toilet uses as much as 12 litres of water per flush!? That’s about twice the water of new models.

– Is your water bill out of whack? You may have an underground leak. Call your municipal water department to investigate.

– Water used for cooking one food can be used to cook another. Steaming vegetables? That water can be used to cook pasta or boil potatoes (and will add a bit of vegetable flavour).

– Fix dripping taps right away. One drip per second adds up to over 3 gallons (12 litres) each day or 1,225 gallons (4,630 litres) each year, enough to fill more than twenty-two 55-gallon (210 litre) drums, just from one dripping faucet.

– Front-loading washing machines use up to 40 per cent less water than conventional top loaders, according to Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Star program.  Beyond saving water, use the washer’s cold setting to save energy, too. At my place, we have a combination washer-dryer, or “combo” machine from LG. It’s great to have one box instead of two, and it’s very energy efficient.

– Running a full load of dishes in the dishwasher will use less water than handwashing. According to Natural Resources Canada, if you buy a model with a sanitary setting, you can set your hot-water heater temperature lower (saving you a lot in energy costs) – the dishwasher can heat water to sanitize your dishes as required.

I hope you find these tips handy.

Are you concerned about reducing your water use? Have you made any changes around your home to conserve water?

April 15, 2009 at 10:17 AM 4 comments

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