40% of water in our households gets wasted just by flushing it down. Now, here’s a delightfully simple way to hook your washing machine to your flush with a plumber and just a few pipes!
Water comes into our houses through multiple inlets. And the way we use it is so wired into our system, that most of the time, we don’t realize how much we use.
Taking a step back and analyzing how we consume, it is easy to realize that the thirstiest unit at any home is the toilet! Some studies show, that 40% of the total water consumed by a person, in a day, is for flushing only.
Although new apartment complexes come with dual-plumbing, sewage treatment plants, older apartments/houses still have single inlet – single outlet system. Ready made products (a handful of which is available) to recycle them are very expensive, and will take a really long time to break even.
The second thirstiest unit in a house is a washing machine. One wash cycle can easily take up about 30% of the total water consumed in one house per day. The water from the washing machine’s outlet, mostly soapy water, hence, is ideal to quench the toilet’s thirst.
This is what we realized when we were renovating our “new to us”, 15 year old apartment. So, we set up a system, with the help of our plumber, for water reuse from the output of the washing machine straight into one of our toilets.
- What we did was as follows:
- Set up a collection tank to store the washing machine outlet water
- Install another tank at a higher level, to supply water to flush tank to the flush tank
- A motor to connect the two
- A dual connection to the flush tank (back up is always good).
Using simple plumbing techniques, these components were connected. We also made sure we handled issues like:
- If the tank above was full, it wouldn’t overflow outside, instead, it would redirect excess water back to the collection tank below
- If the plumbing from the tank above to the flush tank had any blockages, we had a path for reverse flow, so that it could break open the blockage.
By using this system, we (a family of two) have been able to offset most of our flushing requirements. We run our washing machine about three times a week. This takes care of almost all our flushing needs. This is the biggest advantage. It is a fairly compact system, mostly inconspicuous. Not many guests notice it unless we explicitly mention it. All the parts in display are available at a local hardware store.
This is just one of the ways of ensuring fresh water consumption. there are several other easy ways of reducing fresh water and reusing one’s used water. All it takes is the willingness to change one’s mindset that water is not an unlimited commodity and that its our own individual responsibility.
Author: Preethy Iyer.
The Alternative is an online media publication focused on sustainable living and social impact.