With temperatures as high as 41 °C in Gauteng this week, and persistent droughts over the past few months in this part of the world, it’s difficult not to think about different ways of being frugal with water both in our home and garden.


South Africa is the 30th driest country in the world. The recent dry spells experienced across the country, no doubt due to climate change, have affected so many of us in so many different ways. On a personal level, it has been sad for us watching the effect the drought has had on our garden as we have put in so much time, effort, love and care into it over the past few years. While we are grateful for the rains we’ve had since October and our plants have loved and soaked up every precious raindrop, there just hasn’t been enough rain to help them thrive.


We try to be as frugal as we can in our simple habits. Being careful with how much water we consume on a daily basis helps communities, our environment and our precious planet. The more you save, the more water there will be available for others to use, not only now but in the future too.


You can also save on your municipal water bill each month. Most of what we do takes very little effort on our part yet it helps make a difference. Watering your garden every 2-3 days for an hour can add up to several hundred Rand on your municipal water bill each month, if not more, depending on how large your garden is. If you are careful with how much water you use, and how you use it, you can bring this amount down to a hundred Rand, or two hundred Rand or so. That’s a huge saving.


Here are 7 simple, daily habits for being frugal with water in your home and garden:


Water your garden wisely

Know which plants need more water and how often they need it. Water pot plants at the root instead of splashing water all around the pots, which really only evaporates and is wasted. If you are using a sprinkler system at home, it’s better to turn it on and off as you need it to ensure your garden doesn’t get watered while it’s raining, for example. Ensuring you position the sprinklers so that they water only the lawn and plants and not pavement areas, for example, is another huge water saver.


Garden sprinkler


Harvest rain water

While installing a rain-harvesting water tank is the most beneficial solution in the long run, it is also expensive and as a result, not so easily accessible to all of us. What you can do instead, and very cheaply too, is to harvest rain water in large, clean buckets that you’ve re-used. Keep the lids on once you’ve harvested the rain water as you don’t want it to evaporate before you’re ready to use it. If you have plants inside your home, they would definitely benefit from being watered with rainwater once in a while.


Reuse Greywater

Greywater is the waste water from your shower/bath, the washing machine and the sink. It is relatively clean and safe to use to water plants or the lawn in your garden. Installing a greywater system in your household is quite expensive. What you can do instead, and quite frugally too, is carry buckets of water from your bath to water your garden. Alternatively, keep a bucket to collect the water as you shower and water your plants when you’re done.


Be economical with laundry & dishes

Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes, and only in cold water washes. In most cases, the pre-rinse cycle in either the washing machine or your dishwater is really not necessary. If you need to rinse your dishes, you can do that in a sink filled with water instead of under running water. Investing in water-efficient, and more modern, washing machine and dishwasher means that they use much less water in all their cycles.


Don’t let that tap run wild

Close the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. There is no point in letting the water run while you’re busy scrubbing your pearly whites. Let the water run only once you’re ready to rinse.


Water down the drain


Use hosepipes sparingly

Don’t use a hosepipe to wash your car or clean the pavement around your home. You can wash your car quite nicely with one or two large buckets of water and there is no harm in using rainwater that you’ve collected for this as well. You can do the same for areas of pavement that are dirty. Sweeping the pavement regularly will go a long way in keeping the area around your home clean.


Fix those leaks

Fix all plumbing leaks both in and around your home. Leaking water is wasted water. Johannesburg alone loses an estimated 120 million litres of water each year due to water leaks. This loss can be prevented. Also, report burst pipes that you see on the side of the road to your municipality’s fault line so that they can attend to them as soon as possible, preventing further, unnecessary loss of water.


Rand Water’s Water Wise website has some very useful tips on conserving water.


What do you do to conserve water, and to save on your municipal bill, each month? I’d love to hear your ideas.


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