Posts tagged ‘water saving’

April 23, 2012

Hosepipe Ban – a Permanent Feature for UK Summers?

Those who live in the South East of England are surely familiar with the term: hosepipe ban. These summer-long bans are more and more common due to the lack of rainfall in recent years, which led to a record number of droughts and half-full reservoirs.

Also, population density is very high in this region and some parts of England are so dry, that even Sydney’s annual rainfall is double than that of London. According to some statistics, these bans could save up to 900 litres of water per hour.

When hosepipe bans are in place, residents mustn’t wash their cars, windows, water plants, and
they shouldn’t fill paddling pools or ponds, nor cleaning paths and patios – using the hosepipe.
Exemptions are offered for the disabled, and water companies may have slightly differing rules
from each other. Fines can reach up to £1000 if caught breaking the regulations.

But do hosepipe bans really help?
While surely many people think twice before opening taps when a hosepipe ban is ordered and may feel threatened by the potential fine, it’s down to the neighbours to notify the authorities – as water companies don’t have the money or resources for this.
Also, using buckets for either home car washes or filling pools is not forbidden, which may
mean that great amount of water is still used but it’s less likely to be wasted by leaving the hosepipe on.

Water saving is an important issue for the future of the UK, especially in the South East. This is one reason why water companies are rolling out water meter systems in this area. Paying for the exact amount of water used could not only lower current bills but can also help in conserving water, so there may not be a need for hosepipe bans in the future.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

April 13, 2012

Desalination in the UK

Desalination is usually associated with hot dry countries without any rivers and hardly any rain, like

Australia or the Middle East. In fact, the UK’s first desalination plant was built in London in 2010 and soon it will start its full-capacity operation. 

The Thames Gateway in Beckton treats the water of the Thames and the sea to supply water to Londoners, providing some great results so far during the test phase.

In the plant salty and fresh water from the tidal river is mixed and salt is filtered out via reverse osmosis, applying high pressure on water, which is thus squeezed through fine membranes. Compared to an average of fifty per cent, efficiency of the plant is at 85 per cent, which means that
85 per cent of all water entering the facility can be returned as drinking water.
Furthermore, the water is so clean after the treatment that it even has to be artificially altered to
provide the same taste as what people are used to. It can supply 400,000 households, which means about one million people could start drinking
seawater thanks to this plant.

The plant is mainly to be used during long-term drought, which is very timely, as hosepipe bans in the South East have become more and more frequent. Just recently water companies announced a new ban with fines of thousands of pounds for simply washing the car at home.

Drawbacks of desalination plants include that the process itself is very expensive as well as energy-intensive but new methods are being tested and trialled on how these can be reduced. However, regardless of how many new technologies emerge, improving how we save water at home is still the key solution.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image by noomhh

February 9, 2012

Small Dishwashers for Economical Users

While water is becoming more and more scarce, environmentally conscious small households and offices may want to find an economical dishwasher, which is small enough for their requirements. And there are several designers who have already thought about them. 

The first concept by Marie-Christine Lacasse & Marie Claude Savard not only looks good but it even combines the dishwasher and the cupboard in one. The dishwasher operates by moving along while cleaning. 


Another space-saving solution is the dishwasher, located next to the sink. Its capacity is bigger than its size would indicate and it can use up to fifty per cent less water than ‘traditional’ dishwashers.


Another example of a dishwasher merged with a sink is the rotating solution, where the dishes are washed while under the counter, and the other half is used as the sink at the same time.


More and more manufacturers also produce ‘dishwasher drawers’ for smaller kitchens. Others have thought about the possibility of immediate washing up after dinner by integrating the appliance into a table.

If design is key for the users there is also a great selection already. One of them is the small Gota device, which even recycles the steam from the pre-wash cycle for later re-use.

For those who want to take their dishwasher with them, for instance for camping, there is now also a solution. The concept by David Stockton has a unique shape for economic usage and it’s so small that it’s portable, while it only uses a small amount of water. It has to be filled up with water and cleaning liquid and then turned manually, as well as for the drying process.

Another environmentally friendly solution is using a new technology. The Wind Washer from Electrolux uses high-pressure air, steam and UV light for cleaning, while the Zeolith dishwasher from Siemens features a moisture-absorbing material, zeolites, used during the dry cycle. Power consumption is lower than at traditional devices, and the water is also saved on a longer term.

Overall, there are several concepts and designs for energy-efficient small dishwashers, and they look to be really promising for the future, especially by being compact and/or using a novel washing method. But for now, many of these are only concepts and for the real benefit they need to be mass-produced.


Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

October 18, 2011

Learn From the Celebrities

Celebrities can afford to live in the most luxurious and enormous mansions in the most expensive parts of the trendiest neighbourhoods, however some decide to make their homes environmentally friendly as well.

These houses commonly feature solar panels for power or heating, while these ‘stars’ also like to install energy-saving appliances and gadgets.

One of the most famous green celebs is Daryl Hannah, who regularly attends protests and sometimes even gets arrested. She lives in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in an off-the-grid house with solar panels for generating electricity and providing heating, while water comes from a spring and recycling comes as standard. There is also a biodiesel generator for emergencies, and the whole house is now set up to utilize the most of the sunshine thanks to its design. She has an organic garden and even a couch, which is basically a stone with moss.

Another well-known actor engaged in green issues is Leonardo di Caprio, who not only drives luxury electric cars, but also owns green homes. His house in Los Angeles features solar panels and even the bedsheets are green, while he recently purchased a new flat in New York, with aerators in the bathrooms, water saving solutions and green paint was used for decoration. Also, currently he is staying in an eco home, while filming in Australia.

Besides solar installations, Julia Roberts’ house has recycled tiles, and wood was sourced from a sustainably managed forest. Alicia Silverstone also uses recycled materials for furniture, and even has a low-energy heating/cooling system installed to save power.

Johnny Depp has a whole Caribbean island turned into an eco-paradise, entirely running on solar-hydrogen power. Inspired by him, Orlando Bloom built an environmentally friendly house in London, also with solar panels and energy-efficient light bulbs, while for his new baby they used eco paints in the nursery.

And even oil tycoons can be environmentally conscious. Larry Hagman, aka J.R. Ewing, is not only a famous advocate of the solar industry but also used to live in the largest solar-panel-powered house of the US before he sold it in 2009. And another Texan ‘celebrity’, George W. Bush’s Texan ranch features recycled water and a geothermal heating system, amongst other things.

Fancy an own eco home? Build an earthship

There are several opportunities available to anyone to build eco-houses, and some of the greatest examples around the world are the so-called ‘Earthships’.

These passive houses are built to utilize the sunshine or geothermal energy for heating, while they recycle rain or snow as well as grey water, and are powered with either solar or wind energy. Building materials are also all natural or recycled. The features change with every single house based on local characteristics and requirements.

Earthships can be found all over the US and Europe, including a house in Scotland and in Brighton in the UK. They can be visited by anyone sourcing for examples for greener living, while there are even courses available for learning to build such an eco-home.


Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse



August 20, 2011

Lessons from the International Space Station

As the US has just ended its space shuttle programme, the International Space Station (ISS) has witnessed a number of experiments during its lifetime. Amongst these there have been several that could be beneficial for the future of alternative and renewable energy developments.

The Space Station

The ISS itself is a great case study on how to use alternative energy.

It operates with twenty solar arrays of a total length of 73 metres, and it uses various Sun tracking systems throughout a day. Each solar array wing has two arrays and there are 32,800 solar cells on each, providing the same amount of power as thirty average houses would require on Earth. US President, Barack Obama even congratulated the astronauts in 2009 for installing solar panels, a very important step in the field of renewable energy research.

As water is very expensive to send to the space station, the water filtration system has been developed to convert wastewater into clean drinking water from sweat, urine or even respiration. Astronauts also don’t use flowing water for hand washes but wet cloths, which are significantly more water-efficient than running the tap.

The insulation used on the station has to withstand both extreme heat and cold, thus it has to be very flexible and efficient, which could become a valuable solution for home insulation on Earth too.  The company Hy-Tech Thermal Solutions already offers a paint, which significantly improves house insulation and which was developed from NASA’s thermal research projects.

Also, NASA’s Research Centres have been involved with the improvement of various solutions for the smooth running of the ISS, one of them being the research of fuel cells, a promising future solution for vehicles.


Astronauts at the ISS regularly conduct experiments, which have already given several technology innovations to the world. Such experiments also include potential developments in the alternative and renewable energy sector.

One of the well-known experiments was the research on whether microgravity can makeJatropha curcas plant cells grow faster to produce biofuel, named National Lab Pathfinder-Cells 3.

Another example is the experiment MISSE-5 (Materials International Space Station Experiment – 5 (MISSE-5)), in the frame of which the Forward Technology Solar Cell Experiment (FTSCE) investigated the durability and the electrical output of 39 advanced solar cell samples that could be used on future space exploration vehicles. [10]

Also, a hydrogen experiment resulted in the weakest flame ever, which could be very beneficial for the development of cleaner burning cars.

Space solar power

The large solar arrays of the ISS generated great interest in researching the potential of space solar power.

It could provide the largest source for solar energy on a very long term, and with wireless power transmission solutions it may be used for electricity networks or transportation systems on Earth.

Besides the main challenge, that it’s rather expensive to develop and the dangers of space debris to the device, it has numerous advantages. These include no emissions, no competition for water or food and it’s not reduced by cloud cover or affected by the time of the day, so it could be used virtually anywhere on Earth.

Just as space exploration has led to several innovations, the International Space Station may hold the key to new potential solutions for alternative energy development on Earth.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image from NASA



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