Thursday, July 12, 2007

Save it!

We all know that we need to save energy to save the planet. What most people don’t realize is that everything we eat, use or wear involves the use of energy and indirectly causes carbon dioxide emissions. One of the things we take least notice of is water, particularly in the UK where many households still pay a fixed fee for their water, regardless of how much they use. Of course, commercial premises and more and more homes are on metered supplies, but the cost of water, at least at present, is ignored by most people.

One cubic metre of water requires 1kWh of electricity or other energy to pump it, filter it, purify it, and deliver it to the consumer. Every cubic metre of water therefore has a carbon footprint. Although Britain has been suffering from floods in recent weeks, droughts and hose pipe bans are becoming more and more common in the summer and if we do experience the weather extremes as predicted, water shortages can only get worse.

With this in mind I was interested to see the Interflush device at a conference at York University. This is a simple way of varying the amount of water which is used to flush the lavatory. Although there are some dual-flush units, most flushing systems deliver a full cistern of water every time. The same amount of water is used whether liquids or solids need to be flushed away. The Interflush adapts the traditional flushing siphon so that the flow stops as soon as the handle is released. At the level of the individual household, the savings are relatively small. However, we know that if each household fitted a single compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) electricity demand would fall by the equivalent of the output of a whole power station. Similarly, if every household adopted an Interflush the carbon footprint of the water industry would be cut by 250,000 tons of CO2 . The cost of water would be reduced for all consumers and the existing infrastructure would be able to cope with an increase in the number of consumers without upgrading.

Have a look at the website and see what you think!

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