A front loading washing machine can save up to 40 percent of the water used by a conventional model. Washing and rinsing our clothes in cold water reduces our energy use for a load of laundry by 93% (Government of Canada). Instead of washing our dishes by hand which uses more energy than a dishwasher, we have installed an energy efficient water saving model.
Along with native and xeriscape plants, we have laid drip irrigation, and we plan to use a 3ft diameter culvert standing vertically to capture, store and re-distribute rainwater for landscaping purposes. Cisterns are great for small spaces and rely on gravity as opposed to electrical pumps to move water to gardens. A 3 ft diameter, 10 ft high rainwater culvert will capture 528 gallons. We may put in two or increase the diameter size of the culvert.
We have used hydronic radiant heat in certain areas of the house as a back up to the masonry stove. This is an energy efficient method of heating our home by applying heat within the floor and certain plaster walls, using water. It is likened to warming yourself in the sun, warming objects as opposed to raising the temperature of the air.
Hot water is sent through plastic pipes that we laid within certain concrete slabs to specific zones, dispersing the heat through the floor surface. The cooler water then returns to the heat source where it is reheated and sent out again in what is known as a “closed-loop system.” Water circulated from the masonry stove will act as backup heating.
In our case, we heat the hot water for our floors and walls with an electric hot water tank. Unlike gas, oil or wood heaters which lose a percentage of energy through the chimney, 100% of the electricity used goes into heat production. In addition to the hot water tank (which is insulated), we have installed a 30 ft loop of copper pipes in our masonry stove in hopes of re-directing some of the heat produced by the stove.
Among our challenges of building green, we were not permitted to connect our rainwater harvesting system to our toilets. While some municipalities are working on changes, the BC plumbing Code does not trust backflow prevention valves to prevent rainwater contaminating municipal water. Our plan is to make allowances so that in the future if the plumbing Code changes, we will be able to utilize our rainwater harvesting for our toilets.