Archive for the "water" category

How can I reuse or recycle water from a condenser dryer/air conditioner/dehumidifier?

We’ve had an email from Mark:

What is the best way to recycle small quantities of hot water from a condenser tumble dryer?

I know i could pour it down the toilet, put it on the garden etc, but what are the economical benefits of reusing this clean water. Can it be used (when cold) for anything beneficial? Recycled/redirected to a dishwasher etc

In yet another of those great-minds moments on here, I’ve been thinking a similar thing lately – we’ve had a dehumidifier running in our office after a series of leaks over the summer and while it’s thankfully slowed down a lot of late, we’ve had bucket upon bucket of water from it over the last few months. For me it’s less about the “economical benefits” and more about hating throwing anything away that might be useful.

Wikipedia describes this type of water as “a rather clean kind of greywater” – but various articles online advise against drinking it/letting animals drink it (because of possible bacterial/fungal spore/heavy metals contamination, and also because it’s been distilled & will taste weird). Watering well-established houseplants with it is probably ok – actually better than tap water if you’re tap water is very soft – although because of the possible bacterial/heavy metals issue, it’s still probably better to avoid using it on vegetables, particularly leafy ones.

Mark mentioned putting it down the toilet – I’m not sure whether he means just to get rid of it or in lieu of flushing. The latter will have an “economical benefit” if your water is metered — toilet flushing accounts for a huge proportion of most people’s water usage: just keep a bucket of water next to the toilet and pour some into the bowl to flush it. I’m not a water expert but based on the advice about possible contamination, I’d probably be more inclined to use it for clothes washing than dish washing (although it would probably be fine for that too, especially at hotter cycles).

Anyone have any experience reusing water from condenser dryers, air con units or dehumidifiers? What do you use greywater for around your home/garden?

How can I reuse coffee that’s sat on the plate for too long?

We’ve had an email from Iris:

We make a big jug of filter coffee each morning at the weekend but I regularly have to pour away the last cup or two away because it’s gone bitter. Is there anything I can do to revive it or use it up some other way?

Of course, there is an obvious “reduce” angle here: just don’t make so much. If that’s not an option for some reason or if you still end up with dregs, as a minimum, the coffee (along with the grounds and the filter, if it’s paper/cotton) should be going on the compost heap rather than down the drain – but that’s a last resort. Some plants that like acidic soils might also like to down your last cup of joe once a week too (although watered down if it’s got a bit strong on the hot plate, and it’s had too much if the leaves start to yellow or go brown after a few weeks).

I don’t drink coffee but do use it in cakes/desserts from time to time. I usually get my brewmaster (boyfriend) to prepare a fresh cup for me to use though as he makes (Aeropress) espresso and we don’t have “spare” coffee. I’d imagine that any burnt taste in the coffee would be transferred to the cake/mousse etc too – but I don’t know, perhaps the other ingredients would mask it — anyone tried that?

Any other suggestions for ways for Iris to use up that bitter coffee?

How can I reuse or recycle flat soda water or flat tonic water?

We’ve had an email from Ellie:

I’ve found about half a dozen opened bottles of soda water and tonic water in the back of our drinks cupboard from last Christmas (I don’t know why there is so many!) They’re flat now but I know you can use soda water for stain removal so I wondered if you knew of any ways I can use them up.

Soda water (aka Club Soda) is a useful stain remover for liquid spills but I’ve heard that part of it is how the fizz “lifts” the stain – so I’m not sure it’ll be still as useful for that.

Some sources recommend soda water as a mineral-rich water for plants – flat stuff would still work for that – or, similarly, tonic water can help keep cut flowers fresh (used one part tonic to two parts tap water).

One other thing about tonic water – the quinine in it causes it to glow in the dark. We’ve obviously missed Halloween now but it lend itself to some fun decoration ideas…

Any other ideas for how to use up those fizz-less drinks?

How can I improve my greywater system?

We’ve had an email from Su:

I do like to tax the minds of all who read these sites, not intentionally, but in a ‘why don’t I know how to do that’ sort of way.

Here goes, I collect all the water from my washing machine, and use it to flush the loo. However, hauling watering cans of water up the stairs with a frozen shoulder is not especially easy. So I would like to construct (if possible) some sort of pump, preferably from reused bits. Unfortunately, I have not the remotest idea where to start!

I can easily put a pipe out of the bathroom window into the container of water, but it would be easiest if the pump, or at least the switch was at the ‘top’ end, so that I don’t end up running up and down stairs to switch it on and off. Would a washing machine pump (not that I have one lying around) do the job? Could it be solar powered?

All ideas gratefully received.

I haven’t had much experience with setting up greywater systems so I can’t really advice – hopefully someone else will be in a better position to comment. As someone who has an incredibly vertical house, I’d love to learn more about options for pumping water too.

One thing I will say though is could you change it around so you don’t need to pump upwards? For example, using greywater from shower/bath for the toilet, and using the stuff from the washing machine elsewhere (such as on the garden, if it’s chemical free). It obviously depends on the set up of your home – there might not be storage room on that level for the water – but it might be easier to rejig things that way then get a powered pump working.

Any ideas, suggestions or advice?

Reducing, reusing & recycling water – super green super tips!

Following on from yesterday’s watery post, green blogger Crunchy Chicken has proposed a “Dry Humps” (as in camels) challenge for one weekend next month. She states that the average American individual uses between 100 – 176 gallons of water a day, whereas an average *family* in an African country only uses 5 gallons of water.

The Crunchy one’s challenge is for people to cut down to 5 gallons a day (per person) for the weekend of the 12th & 13th June. Five gallons is 22.7ltrs, and as a guide, an average bath tub holds about 40gallons/150ltrs, and each toilet flush uses between 1.6gallons/6ltrs and 3.4gallons/13ltrs depending on whether it’s a new-fangled or old fashioned sort. So five gallons/22.7ltrs, per day, per person for a weekend really isn’t that much to live on – so quite an extreme challenge for us decadent water wasters, particularly at the height of summer.

A number of people who are taking up the challenge have wondered aloud how they’ll do it and another set of people have said the challenge is too extreme for them but they’d like to cut down their water usage over permanently – so I thought it might be a fun idea to brainstorm some dark green super tips – or bright green water saving gadgets or ideas.

We – the people switched on enough to read green websites – all know we should turn off the tap when we’re cleaning our teeth and to fill our washing machines rather than running them on water-wasting half loads. They’re the equivalent of “put on a jumper before turning on the heating” ideas for reducing heating bills/usage. But what are your favourite water saving hints and suggestions?

Do you have any gadgets to reduce water flow? Has a pay-for-what-you-use water meter helped keep you focused?

Do you use grey water (from baths, showers, washing machines etc) or stored rainwater to do anything fun? Have you hooked up any systems to automatically do that?

What about in the garden? It’s getting warm out there now and I don’t know about you but my veggies are gulping it down already. Do you do anything in particular to make sure you’re using what you need but not being wasteful?

And what about in the workplace? Have you encouraged your colleagues to cut down? Or seen any great water saving ideas in industry?

Any other ideas?