Laundry Challenge 3 – The Washer – Energy and Gray Water

The washer isn’t a huge energy drain but it is a big water user and depending on the kind of soap you use, it’s a big polluter. So what can we do about our washer?

We had to replace our washing machine a few years ago. We bought a regular washing machine but we choose a Fisher & Paykel Aquasmart model because of its energy efficiency and low water use. We’ve been really happy with it, actually. We have young people living with us and have had renters over the years and inevitably someone doesn’t understand basic washing machine usage. Not so with this one. It’s so easy to understand and has worked like a dream.

While we can’t do anything about the power it uses, we can do something about the water. We re-use it! (sometimes.)

Gray Water

The laundry water pours into the sink next to the washer. We put a large plastic container into the sink and captured the rinse water. The plastic container was left over from a construction project so didn’t cost us anything. It has a handle on it so it’s easier to carry upstairs.

We reused the water to flush the toilets. Here’s how we did it. We put a plastic container in the shower in the basement and in the bathtub in the upstairs bathroom. It’s hidden by the shower curtain. We left a regular sized plastic paint can in the room and when we needed to flush a toilet, would fill the paint can with water and pour it into the bowl. Usually one can-full will do the job. It was AMAZING how much water we saved.

Here’s the challenge. We’re not so young anymore. It’s hard, with lower back problems, to carry the water upstairs. It is possible to replumb a house for gray water usage but we’re not that rich, or that committed… yet.

The No Electricity Option

Our daughter lives in an apartment that doesn’t have laundry facilities. She was always running out of quarters and was looking for a different laundry solution. Again, we turned to Lehman’s. It’s a supplier of products for the Amish, people who don’t use electricity.

pressure washer

non-electric washing machine

We bought our daughter an electric-free washer, similar but not the same as this model. It operates on pressure created by the heat of the water in a sealed container.

We were hoping to give it a try ourselves so we could report on it but it seems to have been broken in one of her many moves. But I’m really intrigued by it. Has anyone tried this or something like it?

About thinkofitasanadventure

We are a 50-something couple living in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. We attended a sustainability conference at our local high school in November 2010, with keynote speaker Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute. What we heard shocked us deeply. We finally understood the need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. We immediately began to change the way we live. We joined together with other folks in our neighborhood to learn more, to do more and to have fun doing it! We're part of Transition Longfellow. We're choosing to change now and to "think of it as an adventure." If you are on this journey too, we'd love to hear from you.
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One Response to Laundry Challenge 3 – The Washer – Energy and Gray Water

  1. Reinstating the gray water may be as easy as rounding up the buckets that got stored away during the bathroom tiling remodel. “Out of sight, out of mind,” is a big part of the challenge for us when it comes to maintaining the changes. And really, why should carrying water up stairs at home seem like a difficulty, when lifting weights and climbing stairs at the Y is seen as a virtue? – Peter

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