Grey-Water Systems: Saving Money and the Environment

One of the best things to come out of the environmentalist and ‘green’ movement that has captured the country over the last few years has been the emergence of grey-water systems into mainstream plumbing design.

According to grey-water is defined in the household setting as “the waste water from baths, basins, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers etc., which has been used to clean things and which is considered to be only mildly dirty.” The name grey-water comes from its position midway between fresh-water and sewage (black-water) and while not acceptable for human consumption can still be used for things such as flushing toilets or irrigation.

The use of grey-water recycling systems has been shown to reduce the amount of water consumption from outside sources by as much as 40% in the average household. This means your family not only saves money on your monthly water bills but you also have a smaller impact on the environment.

There is a wide variety of systems on the market depending on your budget and your needs, all of which can be easily installed by a certified plumber. Your local plumber can also be a valuable resource when it comes to assessing your current water usage to make sure you choose the best suited system for your household’s needs, assuring you don’t waste your money on system capacity you will never use or run into problems down the road from installing too small of a system that can’t meet your family’s demands.

The simplest type of system consists of replacement toilet tank lid like the one shown above. It takes clean water that would normally go directly into the tank and reroutes it through the sink’s faucet with the grey-water then draining into the tank refilling it for the next flush.

This picture represents the next step up which utilizes a small tank retrofitted under the existing sink. This type of system allows all of the water you use in the sink to be collected, treated and stored until it is needed to flush the toilet. When the toilet is flushed, the water comes out of this tank instead of being pulled from the municipal system.

Finally we have a large scale system which would collect all of the grey-water your family produces treating and storing it in a large tank, usually in the basement of the home. This is going to be the most efficient system for reducing your monthly bill since it collects and recycles 100% of the grey-water, however if you live alone and don’t have a garden, you will never see a return on your initial investment, making one of the smaller units a better choice for your money.