SHOWER POWER: Green tweaks for your shower and toilet
FOOD, energy and clean water: apart from having a roof over our heads, these are the things that we need for survival.
In recent columns I wrote about how we could create an abundance of fresh produce in city centers with the use of Dr Dickson Despommier’s sky farms or vertical farms. Growing food in skyscraper-sized greenhouses offers numerous benefits over traditional farming methods. Water is held in a closed system and nutrients can be pumped within to yield healthy produce. There is minimal risk of bad weather or insects destroying crops. The land used would be minimal and there would be no risk of farm invasions.
Furthermore, if food were grown in tall buildings within city centers, inflation would be lower as food wouldn’t need to travel far. This would result in fresher and cheaper fruit and vegetable foodstuffs all year round; not only that, but a lot more of it too.
We’ve got the power!
With regards to clean energy generation, there really is no limit to harnessing more power than we could ever need. With a combined use of solar, wind, tidal and of course, geothermal energy sources, we need never burn another finite fossil fuel ever again.
Unfortunately, solar powered technologies are still at a stage where they are very expensive for the home user to implement. A solar geyser for example can save you up to 40% of your electricity bill, but will set you back by about R15 000.
Drink it up
And then there’s clean drinking water. It has been predicted that wars in the future will not be over land or industrial resources, but rather over fresh water. Despite our planet being more than two thirds water, only about 3% of this is drinkable if it’s not contaminated or polluted.
However, it has long been known that boiling water to the point of evaporation is an effective distilling process. Evaporated water leaves behind contaminants and heavier metals making it pure and safe when re-condensed. What has hindered mass production of this kind was the amount of heat and power constantly needed to boil water at such temperatures.
This has become less of an issue since the invention of heat-exchange devices — devices that produce power but require heat to operate. Coupling this with a water-distilling machine creates a closed loop of energy whereby one device feeds into the other. We have now reached a point where we can even create fresh drinking water from sewage and ocean water.
Producing more for less
What is also starting to sink into social consciousness and green living is the idea of creating more with less — an idea which permeates all economic sectors of society. The farmer practises producing more food with less land, the architect designs more energy-efficient buildings, and the businessperson, more profit from less work. While there may not be a world war over water in the future, conserving our most precious resource by using it more efficiently should still be high on the social agenda.
Several water companies have been tapping into the water conservation market, offering a range of technologically advanced and super green products that will save you thousands. From my experience, I find that the simpler solutions are always better.
Apart from the bath, two of the largest water guzzlers in an average household are the shower and the toilet. It is estimated that a daily five-minute shower uses about 100 litres of water, while a flush toilet uses between six and 18 litres of water per flush.
African Water Controls is one Johannesburg-based company that largely focuses on making the household shower and toilet more efficient.
A toilet device, called a WaterStop, allows the toilet user to control how much water is used to flush the toilet simply by holding down the toilet handle until the desired water quantity has been released. An unmodified toilet flushes away a full tank of water with one touch of the handle.
For showers, a pressure compensating regulator (PCR) can be used, which can either be fitted behind a hand shower or behind a wall shower. This half-inch connection standardises the pressure throughout a water network and can reduce the amount of water used by a shower by half.
Shower heads and fittings such as these come with different flow rates and fittings and can be found in several major stores throughout the country. However, this is the first company that I’ve come across that sells such devices so inexpensively, with the shower fitting available for around R45 and the toilet WaterStop for around R65.
Creating abundance and conserving energy and water should not have to be as complicated and difficult as it’s often made out to be.
African Water Controls contact details
130 Main Street
Phone: 011 331 9425
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