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Eco-conscious: -167 Watts and No Iron Wrinkle Solution Answered

First, sorry for the blurry pictures - I've changed some sort of setting on my camera and now it's very difficult to get a good image without a tripod.

I like canida's segments and thought I'd throw in some of my little bits. Not as significant, but in terms of consumption, every little bit helps ;)

First, do you really need 180 watts of light in the bathroom? Personally, most of the time I'm either in the shower or taking care of nature's call as opposed to actually using the mirror.

Estimating 2 hours/day usage. We save a little more than 10KwH monthly. So about $1 a month (this bulb pays for itself in 2.5 months).

Second. I don't like my dryer. Some of my clothing is air dried or only partially dried by machine. Wrinkles are a problem for me. So my anti-iron solution is a hook in the bathroom. After a few showers (or one way too hot shower), the moist air will release most of the wrinkles.

If you really need every wrinkle out - then fine, go ahead and fire up the iron. An alternative to an iron is a steamer. I have the kind that you add a little salt to the water and uses much less power than a conventional iron (this statement was verified empirically).

Perhaps there should be a group :) "Semi-Off Grid" :P

9 Replies

trialex (author)2007-02-06

Interesting... guess I hadn't considered the iron as a particularly energy-intensive appliance. Lucky in Sydney we have fairly good weather year round which means I never have to use the dryer. It REALLY annoys me though when my housemate does his washing at 10pm then puts it into the dryer , and then the next day is like 30degC outside. I've gone around the house and taken the two lightbulbs in each fitting out, and replaced them with one compact flourescent. Nobody seems to have noticed the difference. Why do we still make ordinary incandescents? If they were outlawed or taxed to discourage their use like cigarettes and EVERYONE used them exclusively, I can imagine it would make a massive difference. On the subject of green tips, I was wondering, if I keep a bucket in the shower that just catches water that would otherwise go down the drain, then afterwards pour the water into the top of my toilet cistern, will it reduce the amount of water that the toilet needs after I next flush it? Is there anything wrong with ovefilling it?

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trebuchet03 (author)trialex2007-02-06

I never thought to use it for the toilet :) I've heard of using the caught water for plants -- but my garden is hydroponic and doesn't really need it. A while ago, I came up with an idea to catch rain water and use it for a gray water supply (or at least for toilets). It turns out, someone beat me to it (by a long shot) :P I'm really curious why this isn't very common :/

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trialex (author)trebuchet032007-02-06

The water situation is getting pretty bad in Sydney, our dams are at 34% capacity, and we use about .7% a week. The government offers a rebate for rainwater tanks, but 99% of people only use them for watering the garden, washing the car etc. Trying to use the water for toilet use makes perfect sense, but I think the cost required to retrofit it into an existing house is too high. I've seen some designs for new houses where the grey water generated in showers, washing machines etc all goes into a tank to be used in the toilet and garden. This would definately be the way of the future, and really, it should be government supported somehow.

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trebuchet03 (author)trialex2007-02-06

Wow, I didn't realize it was that bad. Is it a seasonal thing (will the level go up any significant amount at a later date?) or is this a problem year round?

Let's brainstorm a little bit. What would a system for recycling gray water need and how could it be retrofitted.

When I was on holiday in Mexico, I remember seeing black water tanks that said rotoplas (probably the company name) to store water. These tanks were everywhere, and were all black to heat the water. Here's a Picture.

So obviously, we'd need a suitable (capacity) tank.

For powering something like a toilet, it seems reasonable to use gravity to provide pressure (place the tank in the attic or roof). Retrofitting the connection would probably be the most difficult part (exception for capturing already used water).

I would think a three way valve is necessary -- to select municipal water or stored water. This also makes the install easier as we don't have to cap off the old municipal supply.

As for collection. From my house's drainage plans, both black and gray water returns utilize the same pipe work and are built into the concrete foundation. So a retrofit won't work - not even at the clean out connection as black water is in the mix. So for the retrofit scenario, the best solution is to go with rain reclamation. For a ground up situation, it's a little easier (and for another time).

The first thing that comes to mind is an additional in ground water supply and sump pump. When the attic tank gets low (say 3/4), the sump pump would refill (if there's any water to pump). To make operation easier, if the attic tank gets really low (say 1/4) - it could be setup so that the municipal supply refills the tank to a level less than full (perhaps half).

I've seen a lot of sump pumps that have auto off sensors should the water level get too low. This is perfect for this application and removes the need for a water level sensor in a rain collector (in ground, above etc.). Just put power to the sump when the attic tank is low enough -- if there's water to be pumped, the pump will turn itself on.

I'm sure someone has thought of this already, but I'd like to throw around the idea for retrofit and see what we come up with.

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trialex (author)trebuchet032007-02-07

Yeah i guess it's always going to be easier in a new house hey... So how about a roof tank that filled from rainwater, that only was used to flush the toilet. If it got low it'd be refilled though your normal garden hose. No valves or auto-filling, if you notice it doesn't flush you walk out side and snap on a the hose connector. Seems like a solution that would be pretty cheap and easy to retro fit. The water situation is definately not seasonal. It's been dropping steadily for 5 or so years. We really need a big down pour like mid 1998 when we went from 57% to 100% in two weeks.

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trebuchet03 (author)trialex2007-02-07

Those are some scary numbers.

Here's what I've learned in the past 24 or so hours.

1. Never store gray water -- it the bacterial load quickly multiplies making it black water
2. Both Gray and Grey are used --only grey is flagged by firefox as a typo
3. Direct contact with gray water is bad -- but there are no cases of passing disease via gray water contact.
4. Even putting gray water directly into a toilet tank is bad (even water from the shower) -- instead, put the water directly into the bowl, manual flush.
5. If it's too expensive/complicated, you've lost sight of the goal and you're likely at a net loss for resource usage
6. If it's not going to last past 5-20 years, rethink your design.
7. Unfortunately, a lot of laws (especially in the US) like complicated. Complicated = safe. Biological = voodoo. Remember, no documented cases of disease from gray water
8. Never store gray water (I'm saying it again).
9. Pumps are nice. Pumps don't last 5-20 years. Pumps eat a lot of electricity (trading water consumption for electricity consumption)

The general consensus was... If it's going to be expensive and complicated -- you won't get a net benefit from the 5-20 gallons of water saved a month.

Of course, scaling changes everything. Large establishments (that is, many families or a lot of traffic) can support a more complicated system. But only if they have the need to use the water that's being recycled.

Lastly, rain water is a little different. So I gotta do a bit more research :) You're idea is more simple and cost effective. Which is of course, better :)

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vatosupreme (author)trebuchet032007-02-07

Couldn't you put a bleach drip system in the toilet tank (or the main catchment tank better) to kill the bacteria and be fine?? Also, Photo Voltaics to power the pump? then you wouldn't be trading water for electricity?

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trebuchet03 (author)vatosupreme2007-02-07

I think you'll need quite a bit of chlorine to keep it usable for an extended period of time. A few sources said 2 tablespoons of bleach per gallon to allow a days worth of storage. After that point, the bacterial load will climb and cause problems (odor, films, etc.). Again, rainwater is different case that needs more research :)

It's funny you mentioned solar power. My house as a solar aided water heater with a solar powered pump. There's a small solar panel that powers a small pump to circulate water into a solar heater. It works very well - in fact, we had hot water after hurricane's that knocked out our water.

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vatosupreme (author)trebuchet032007-02-10

Do you have some of those links you could post? Also, I wonder if you could use UV light or something in the toilet tank to help kill the bacteria?
You might like this.

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