Operation Household Energy Reduction: Part 11 - Not Using Drinking Water to Flush the Toilets

We started our experiments into rain water harvesting with a reasonably simple configuration. Based on space available on the property and financial capacity we have installed a 5000 Litre tank with the water supply from the tank being pump-fed through basic filtration to the laundry and to two toilets.

We opted for a manual supply control system which means we watch the level of water in the tank (which has a visible water level window) and can switch each supplied device from tank to mains water as desired. The alternative is an automated system which (in the absence of human intervention to close the tank's main outlet tap) will allow the tank to run dry and then automatically switch to mains water for each device.

As well as being less expensive, our manual system increases our level of vigilance over the whole system and makes us think more abut whether we want to run the tank dry or whether we want to retain tank water for other purposes (such as the garden). That said, with the effect of the La NiƱa weather system since the tank was installed, the issue of the tank running dry hasn't been a major concern.

Now, those caveats to all of this work – from previous posts - again….

1) whilst there are technical fixes that can contribute to energy reduction, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t concentrate exclusively on them. My gadget-attracted persona is fascinated with new photo-voltaic cell technology or the latest approach to circulating filtered warm ceiling air into the house. We have considered or are considering all of these approaches but prioritised actions according to the most significant thermal performance improvements for the lowest cost, specific to our home.

2) Related to this point, we are aware of the relative economic capacity we enjoy that allows us to make some of these changes simply.

3) So we want to avoid seeing this as a way we can “proof” our little home against the rest of the world. 90000 litres of localised water storage might be fine if it makes sense in the context of your local rainfall and reasonable water usage. It doesn’t make much sense if it is to safeguard your lifestyle while the rest of the world runs out of water.

4) And part of the reason for adding these thoughts to this blog is to add to the conversation about what is possible and keep us all thinking about ways we can contribute to this kind of work for ALL dwellings, regardless of personal economic capacity.

5) Our efforts are not necessarily particularly remarkable in the scheme of things, but its fun to tell the story, to be encouraged in what you are doing and to encourage others.

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