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Grey Water Systems for Homes

Home Efficiency
July 17, 2015

Are you pouring water down the drain during our ongoing drought? Well, yes – who isn’t? However, reusing graywater is being called a huge opportunity to reduce home water use in California. In fact, approximately 50% of the water that a home receives is let go as graywater!

To put the significance of this opportunity into perspective, the 2009 UCLA Institute of the Environment regional report card stated that just 10% of Southern California homes reusing their graywater would equal the amount of water that could be saved by a desalination plant.

What Is Graywater?

Our household wastewater use falls into two categories: graywater (leftover from bathing, washing and cleaning) and black water (waste water from toilets, washing diapers, etc.). All of this water is typically sent directly to the sewer after being used once.

Although the black water can’t be recycled through home systems – along with kitchen water, which often has a high food, grease, and bacteria content – the rest can be captured and in some cases filtered for safe non-potable use such as watering plants and trees. Some systems also divert the graywater into toilets for reuse there as well.

How Much Water Can Be Saved?

According to Alliance For Water Energy, a typical home with older fixtures could generate and reuse 35,000 gallons of graywater per year while a newer home could generate about 10,000 fewer gallons than that due to being more efficient. Either way, graywater systems have the potential to save a tremendous amount of water.

What Is Involved?

In a nutshell, capturing graywater requires separating the drain lines and installing a system to temporarily store the water, along with a pump to move it to the desired location.

Although the process is relatively easy during new home construction, it can be more expensive when retrofitting an older home – which must have a raised foundation rather than slab to make it work at all. For these reasons, homeowners may choose to only capture the wastewater from their clothes washer. The drain line of this appliance is not permanently connected to the home sewer system, and it already has an integrated pump to move the graywater to an alternate storage vessel.

Just this water alone can typically generate enough graywater for residential irrigation needs!

How HERO Can Help

“With HERO’s affordable financing and potential tax benefits, graywater systems become more accessible for many homeowners and are a smart choice for water conservation,” says Stephanie Rodriguez, Director at HERO Registered Contractor Grupe Home Star in Stockton, CA. “Think of the effect on our water resources if every eligible homeowner in California were to capture and reuse their graywater. It just makes sense.”

Learn more about graywater systems and other ways to save water. Also, see if you qualify for HERO today!