Rain Barrels

Save Money with these Home Water Systems

Five Home Water Systems to Explore

There are a variety of home water systems that save you money.  Many rely on an initial supply of water from a municipal water system. These alternative home water systems rely on various methods to reclaim or recycle the water. Examples of these systems include: gray water, black water, rainwater harvesting, storm water and ground water.

Gray Water

Gray water includes water from sinks, showers, baths, clothes washing machines and dishwashers. It often contains hair, cleaning products and dirt to name a few. However, it can be used to irrigate your lawn and be used as a fertilizer for plants. The easiest way to use gray water is to have a pipe going outside. Gray Water Action explains how to direct the water outdoors.

Black Water

Black water contains these gray water sources as well as water from toilets, dishwashers, kitchen sinks and utility sinks.  So, in most cases, this recycled water is not used as a drinking water source. These systems usually require installation at the time the structure is built with piping and storage tanks. These are built into the concrete slabs, flooring, basements or even underground areas around the home. There is an extensive array of pipes leading from initial use to a processing area and then a resupplying system to other uses within the home.  However, these are often pretty expensive to install.

Rain Water Harvesting

Rain water harvesting is a practice that has been around for centuries. Cisterns and other rain harvesting systems are widely used in Europe, Australia, India, the Bahamas and countless remote countries.  In the US, these are most often used to store water to irrigate lawns and flower beds.  An example is the use of rain barrels fed by downspouts from house gutters.  These barrels have a spigot that a hose can be attached to in order to water a flower bed.  These approaches can be expanded to become a drinking water system for home use by connecting them to a water purification system.  However, in most areas around the world, there is not a consistent quantity of precipitation to make this a viable option for potable water.


Storm Water Harvesting

Storm water harvesting, is the collection, accumulation, treatment or purification, and storing of storm water for its eventual reuse. It differs from rain water harvesting as the runoff is collected from drains or creeks, rather than roofs. The problem with storm water is that it does get polluted from the ground. Most only use storm water harvesting for gardens & plants or where water is extremely scarce.

Woda-Sci System

Finally, one of the best and newest alternative sources of water supply for home drinking water systems uses a home’s foundation drainage system as a home water supply system.  It is called the Woda-Sci Green Tech Sump Controller. While not every building owner can use this approach, the lucky owners that have basements and are located in high water tables can save potentially a thousand or more dollars each every year. Instead of pumping the water away, building owners can use it for their lawn sprinkler systems or even as a drinking water system for home use when connected to a water purification system.

The Woda-Sci Green Tech Sump Controller can be installed at any time and usually has a payback period of around two years. It can be connected to an automatic lawn sprinkler system and/or a water purification system.  With transparent ease it can allow a building owner to become virtually “off the grid” for water use.  The return on investment can reach 50% a year and has the potential to increase the resale value of your home as well.  Click here to learn more.

In conclusion, there are many ways that we can recycle our water.  Not only does recycling water save us money but helps preserve and conserve the planet’s water supply. We hope that you found the information helpful and are able to implement some of the home water systems.



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Green Water Technologies for Lawn Sprinkler Systems

We’ve all seen our water bills, the cost of water keeps rising.  There are water shortages in some areas with restrictions on watering your lawn.  These days if you want a green lawn for a reasonable cost you have to be creative.  Luckily, there are many new products on the market to help you save money and keep your lawn green. Most of the new green water technologies for lawn sprinkler systems conserve water by optimizing when and how you water your lawn. Other green water technologies use alternative sources of water to reduce the demand on municipal systems and save money.

Improve When You Water Your Lawn

The most obvious situation everyone can relate to is watering your lawn while it is raining and you are not home. Rainfall shutoff devices use rain sensors to turn off your system in rainy weather. Another problem most of us have is that we aren’t exactly sure how often to water.  Many of us probably err on the side of watering too much because we really don’t know any better. There are new “weather-based” irrigation controllers on the market that use “smart” technology to monitor local weather data to determine when and how much to water.  There are also soil moisture-based control technologies that have sensors which measure the amount of moisture in the soil and tailor the irrigation schedule based on this information.

Improve How You Water Your Lawn

Certain types of sprinkler heads apply water better than others. Rotary spray heads deliver water in a thicker stream than mist spray heads, ensuring more water reaches plants and less is lost to evaporation and wind. Sometimes conventional sprinkler heads may not be the best option at all.  Micro-irrigation or drip systems are generally more efficient for watering around trees, shrubs and gardens because they deliver low volumes of water directly to plants roots. Drip systems minimize losses to wind, runoff, evaporation and over-spray.

Find New Sources of Water for Your Lawn

Most people get their water from a municipal water system.  Prices of municipal water have been rising every year.  A few lucky home owners live near bodies of water and get the water to irrigate their lawns from lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford expensive lake property.

Luckily, there is a new product on the market called the Woda-Sci Green Tech Sump Controller. People who have basements and live in high water table areas can benefit from this technology. It uses groundwater around people’s homes to water their lawns and gardens. There is more water under many people’s houses than you think.  In many areas sump pumps exhaust thousands of gallons of water to storm water systems each day. The Woda-Sci website even has a page where you can estimate how much water you have by simply timing your sump pump cycle and entering this time into their page.

Whatever lawn sprinkler system improvement you choose from the list above should help you save money, have a greener lawn, help you conserve water and protect the environment.  You can use more than one of these green water technologies.  Remember to also maintain your lawn sprinkler system and check and adjust it as necessary.

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Geothermal Heating System

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have acknowledged that a geothermal heating system is the most energy efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning system available. Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) have been in use in the U.S. since the late 1940s.  A geothermal heating system can heat, cool, and supply a house with hot water. They use the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature.  Just below the “frost line”, (which in the US is between 0 and 6 feet), ground temperatures range from 45°F (7°C) to 75°F (21°C).

The equipment costs about the same as conventional gas furnaces and needs to be replaced less often.  The cost to run a geothermal heating system is 40-60% less than a conventional furnace due to its efficiency. Where a fossil fuel furnace may be 78-90 percent efficient, a geothermal heat pump is about 400 percent efficient. For every unit of energy used to power the system, 3-4.5 units are supplied as heat.  Why then isn’t this heating system more popular in the US? Probably because the initial cost is about twice the cost of a conventional system.  Fifty percent of the total cost is the underground loop field.  If this cost could be reduced it would make geothermal a very popular HVAC choice.

There are four basic types of ground loop systems. The first three are closed-loop systems; horizontal, vertical, and pond/lake. Horizontal and vertical closed loop systems are the most expensive types of ground loop systems since they require digging trenches and laying pipes that circulate refrigerant or water thru an area in the ground to exchange heat.  Horizontal systems require more land area than many home owners have.  If a home owner is lucky enough to live by a lake or pond, the cost of the loop is less since pipes can be circulated in the water to exchange heat.

The least expensive option for a ground loop systems is called an “open loop”. If there is an available aquifer that can be tapped into, only a few square feet of real estate are needed. The water is returned to the aquifer after passing over a heat exchanger, so it is not “used” or otherwise negatively impacted. Our company is investigating how to make an open loop system more accessible to home owners.  MEC systems LLC is exploring the use of its current Woda-Sci Green Tech Sump Controller to use the ground water under many homes as an open loop.  The water in a home’s foundation drainage system would be accessed thru the sump and a secondary shallow well pump to use as an open loop heat sink for geothermal HVAC applications.  While this application would only be applicable in high water table areas, it would reduce the cost of geothermal heating for many customers and make it a more viable choice when building a home or replacing an existing heating system.

Geo-Thermal Heating and Cooling Mode Diagram

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Rain barrel saving water

Alternative Water Supply

Individuals, businesses and all levels of government are interested in alternative water supply as droughts and increased demand is straining our existing capacity. The US relies mainly on surface and ground water sources.  There are also less well known alternative sources of water supply, some of which date back to ancient times that are experiencing a resurgence.

Long ago, many civilizations used desalination or distillation on their ships to convert sea water into drinking water. Today, desalination plants are probably the most well recognized alternative water supply systems.  This process mimics the natural water (hydrologic) cycle. Energy is used to evaporate the water, the water vapor is cooled and then it re-condenses and is collected.  Countries in the Middle East and Africa use this technique and there are also desalination plants in California.  The process accounts for 1% of all the total freshwater world consumption.

Another early alternative water supply was rain water. In many of the ancient cities in the Indus Valley in India, we can still find huge vats that were cut into the rock to collect water when there was torrential rainfall. These were fed by numerous stone gullies that weaved their way through a city. Some of these rock vats are still used today.  Modern examples of rain harvesting connect downspouts (gutters) to a water storage tank.  Some systems used in Africa and Australia are capable of holding about 25,000 gallons of water or more.  In Australia many homes in remote locations use it as a primary source of water. Currently there are an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 people in the state of Hawaii who are dependent on a rainwater catchment system for their water needs.  Water utilities around many parts of the US encourage the use of rain barrels attached to home downspouts to capture rain water for residential property irrigation purposes.

Alternative Water Supply Systems

Closely related to rain water harvesting is stormwater harvesting. It differs from rainwater harvesting as the runoff is collected from drains or creeks, rather than roofs.  It can also include other catchment areas from manmade surfaces, such as roads, or other urban environments such as parks, gardens and playing fields.  As the water travels over impervious surfaces it collects pollutants. The main challenge stormwater harvesting poses is the removal of pollutants in order to make this water available for reuse.  It is most often used for irrigation purposes and not as a drinking water source. In California researchers have a plan to recharge groundwater aquifers with runoff captured from rainstorms.

Today the new techniques that re-use water that was previously wasted are also often considered to be alternative water supply methods.  Gray water systems in modern buildings that capture shower water to be re-used in toilets are an example. Another example is the Woda-Sci green tech sump control system which enables home owners to use water that normally would be pumped out to the storm drains for irrigation and/or drinking water.

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Sump Pump Maintenance Diagram

Sump Pump Maintenance

Five Easy Steps for Sump Pump Maintenance

You can find your sump pump in your basement.  It will be in a hole in your basement floor and is usually about 1.5 to 2 feet deep and about 20 inches in diameter and should be flush with the basement floor.  The hole often looks like a small garbage can and can have a cover over it.  You should see a pipe, (usually white PVC), running up from it and out of the house. It is powered by electricity and should be plugged in to an outlet about 4 feet off the floor located near the sump pit.

New Sump PumpSump pumps are often considered dirty and people tend to avoid them.  Some plumbing contractors suggest pouring a little pool chlorine in the sump pit before maintenance,(make sure there is adequate water in there before doing so).  I personally don’t agree with using chlorine since the sump pit pumps water out to our drainage ditch which runs out to our lake. Most of that dirt is just sediment collected from years of ground water flowing thru the system.  Just taking a scrub brush to the sides can do wonders to make it more appealing.  Also it is a good idea to keep a lid on it to keep things from falling inside.

You should perform sump pump maintenance at least once a year, or before a heavy forecasted rainfall.  The easiest and quickest way to check it is just to make sure you hear or see it turn on and pump water out of the pit.  If it isn’t running frequently you can pour a five gallon bucket of water into the pit and force it to turn on.  A more thorough maintenance regime would include the following steps:

  1. Uncover the pit periodically and make sure nothing has fallen inside the pit.  Take any items found out and pray they are not mice.
  2. Ensure the pump is upright- if the device is tilted to one side, the float arm can become jammed and cease to operate correctly.
  3. If you have a submersible pump, remove it from the pit and clean the bottom or side grate. Pumps can suck in rocks that may block the inlet(s) or become clogged from calcification of mineral content over time.
  4. Check your outlet pipe for any blockages that could prevent water from flowing through your outlet tube, by loosening the ring clamp on the rubber backflow valve, nearest the pump and pulling the PVC  outlet pipe out of the rubber sleeve.  Make sure you have the ring clamp tightened securely again, upon replacing the PVC pipe prior to plugging in your sump pump.
  5. Make sure your sump pump is plugged into a working outlet. Sometimes people use the outlet for other purposes and forget to plug the sump pump back in.

Your sump pump may get overwhelmed due to a lack of maintenance on things you may think are totally unrelated to a sump pump.  Often clogged rain gutters or gutters that drain close to the house can cause large quantities of water to flow down around your house during storms.  Make sure the gutters take water away from your house.  The land around your house should be graded to slope away from your home to allow the water to flow away from the sides of your basement.  Most homes are built with this grading but over time the ground can settle and need to be redone.

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