Water Ranger: simple ways to save water and reduce electricity

Constructing a new house? Prioritize rain water harvesting and grey water recycling systems over fancy marble tiles.


This nature lover’s bungalow in Bangalore has been featured in many home decor magazines, not for its expensive baubles or pricey decor but for its water-saving ways.  “How I reduced water and saved electricity”, from GV Dasarathi.

If water was money, most of us would think twice before wasting it. Few realise that water is actually more precious than money. All the money in the world can’t quench your thirst, can it?

Conserving water by reducing and recycling is an ethical necessity. It is criminal to use large amounts of water when there’s a shortage of drinking water everywhere.

Rain water harvesting

Large sump for rain water

We have a 20,000 litre tank which should reduce our consumption of municipal water to half, given Bangalore’s rainfall pattern. If this works as designed, we’ll add more capacity to become fully self-sufficient.

We have had a lot of people telling us that harvested water is not potable and is bad for the health; that we must have two separate sumps, one for the harvested water and one for water from the city’s supply. The former must only be used for gardening, and the latter for use in the home.

We got two samples of water tested, one from the sump and one after the water purifier (an Aquaguard Classic with a UV filter), and found that:

1. Chemical impurities in the sump water were well below limits permissible for drinking water, while bacteria were more than permissible limits.

2. The water from the purifier is bacteria-free, fit for drinking. It bumped off ALL the bacteria.

Conclusion : Water from rain water harvesting is perfectly OK for any use. Just filter it through a simple UV filter.

A UV filter bumps off bacteria by Ultra violet rays. We use a second hand filter bought 6 years ago for Rs. 2500, and we pay Rs. 800 a year for annual maintenance charges.

See the test reports:

Water-test-Oct-2011-Sump : Water straight from the sump.

Water-test-Oct-2011-Filtered : The same sump water, after going through the filter.

In each report, the first page is chemical characteristics and the second is the bacteriological characteristics.

Grey water recycling

We’re planning to install a dry toilet – a commode that does not require water to flush. 40 % of any home’s water consumption goes towards flushing toilets, so we want to eliminate this waste of water.

Rain water and grey water pipes

We’re improving and expanding the grey water system. In an earlier installation, the bath water went into the commode on the lower floor for flushing, but the water developed a smell because of storage. We’re now trying out a system that will use the water from the bath and wash basins, washing machine and kitchen sinks and will be re-used partly for the garden and partly for flushing commodes. In stages, we would like to be completely self-sufficient in water and sewage treatment, stop burdening the city’s overburdened systems.

Solar water heater

We have a 200 litre capacity solar water heater that does the job beautifully. It has an inbuilt heating coil for cloudy days.

Water testing (Costs approx. Rs. 1300 per sample) : Essen & Co., Malleswaram. Ph : 23341230 / 23341567

Smart devices to help reduce water usage at home

In addition to rain water harvesting and grey water recycling at home, one could also start with reducing individual consumption of water and detergents.

Rain water filter at Das’s house in Bangalore

When building a new house, do not prioritize expensive floor tiles, kitchen systems, bathroom fittings, etc. and when it comes to water conservation systems, say you have run out of money.

Your investment on these will definitely not translate into equivalent savings in the water bill, because water is heavily subsidized like all our utilities. Just think that while you over use water, thousands of people do not get drinking water.

The Water Ranger series profiles people who have reduced water usage in their homes and other spaces, as individuals. Got a cool water conservation tip/story to tell us?  Write in at editor@thealternative.in.

Catch Every Drop is a campaign on sustainable water conservation by The Alternative, sponsored by Arghyam, with partners India Water Portal and Biome Environmental Solutions.

 


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mechanical Engineer, living in Bangalore, Das is passionate about using and promoting sustainable transport - walking, cycling and using the bus. I promote it through a movement called CyBaNa. He's also involved in a garbage segregation and recycling program called Sada Zero in his locality, Sadashivanagar. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mechanical Engineer, living in Bangalore, Das is passionate about using and promoting sustainable transport - walking, cycling and using the bus. I promote it through a movement called CyBaNa. He's also involved in a garbage segregation and recycling program called Sada Zero in his locality, Sadashivanagar. more

Discuss this article on Facebook

  • V. Balasubramanian

    Dear Dasarathi,

    Congratulations on your efforts to save on water. It is 100% true that people spend more money on architectural beauty than on essential things like water and energy saving installations when building new houses and offices. We have everything you described in our house. In addition, we just installed a 750 Watts solar panel power system today to reduce our dependence on grid power and to tap on solar energy. We use solar power for 18 h a day and save on the electricity bill. The only appliance that takes lot of power is the fridge (350-400 watts when the compressor is running). We use grid power only for washing machine, fridge, motor pump, and microwave. All other appliances we run on solar power 24 hrs a day. It is a great satisfaction and a tiny contribution to save on natural resources and contribute to sustainable living. If many people follow our examples, we will leave a decent planet to our children and grandchildren.

    Thank you again and best regards.

    Bala.

  • Muralikrishna

    Congratulations Sir, I cant say that I will do all the things which u have done, I will try some of them and implement it.

  • anita sondhi

    प्रिय दसार्थी जी आपके घर में जल बचाने के तरीको के बारे में पढ़ा .लाइफ पोजिटिव पत्रिका में .इन तरीको को अपनाने की कोशिश करुँगी .