Another area we are looking at to save water is our toilets and clothes washer. These two appliances probably use the most water inside the home as any other. And they are easy “targets” for rainwater use. That’s because they don’t need to use drinking water to be effective. Our thought is to also plumb our home to use some of the rainwater we collect to flush toilets and wash our clothes.
We will likely have to balance the amount of rainwater we can collect with our irrigation, toilet and clothes washing demands. Our rooftop has the potential to collect far more than we can store practically, but we can’t practically store all we could collect (about 15 to 20,000 gallons), so we’re looking at where to hit that balance. I just received our irrigation estimates and, in our climate, we face the challenge of very wet winter months and pretty dry summer months. So the challenge is to know how many gallons is best overall for storage.
Plus, another challenge we’re facing is our clothes washer. Conventional wisdom (ie LEED points and marketing) says we should get rid of our 28+ year old Maytag washer that uses 40 gallons per load and get a new Energy Star washer that uses 15 to 20 gallons per load. HOWEVER, my question is what happens to our old washer (landfill or reuse?), we only run 2 to 4 loads per week (family of 2) and about half of those are cold water, if we’re using rainwater for those cold water loads and we’ve never had a problem with our washer in those 28 years (The lonely Maytag repairman ads were right), does it make overall sense to replace our washer? Right now, we’re thinking it doesn’t. So we are probably going to forego that 0.5 point for LEED in lieu of what we feel makes more sense overall.
I’d be interested in your opinions.