Review: Taking a Closer Look at Drinking Water Filters: Did You Know This About Your Water Filter?

Review: Taking a Closer Look at Drinking Water Filters: Did You Know This About Your Water Filter?

When looking clinically and in a balanced way at drinking water filters, considering costs, replacement intervals, filter capability, filter recycling and the filter’s effect on our carbon footprint, how many drinking water filters would make the cut?

And importantly, do any water filters tick all the boxes and stand out as a best of breed product?, elaborates on How We Found the Best Water Filters. A worthwhile review. Stay informed.

Eco Pools Transcript

Eco Pools Transcript

Eco Pools Logo

Title: Transcript of Interview with Jerome Davis, Eco Pools
Presented by: Emmanuel van der Meulen
Guest Speaker: Jerome Davis
Date: 31st May 2017
Number of Speakers: 2
File Duration: 28:54
Transcriptionist: Jacqui Jonk

Links are at the end of the transcript.

Transcript Breakdown:
00:01 Introduction to Eco Pools
02:35 What is aquaculture?
02:54 What is the difference between Eco Pools and Conventional Pools?
07:01 Does an Eco Pool also address leaking?
09:31 How to maintain an Eco Pool?
10:58 Would avid gardeners enjoy Eco Pools?
11:12 If there are plants in the pool, how do I swim in it?
11:54 What sort of relationship exists between the plant and clear water divide?
13:45 Can we use our existing pool pump for the Eco Pool or do you have a specific pump for Eco Pools?
14:42 Could I run the Eco Pool pump off a solar panel?
15:56 What about mosquitoes when one has an Eco Pool?
18:52 Waste water treatment and using your pool as a water storage facility.
20:35 Can a conventional pool easily be converted into an Eco Pool?
21:25 Do you service the whole of South Africa?
24:05 What are the costs for an Eco Pool?
26:07 Waste Water Treatment System Described.
28:22 Wrap Up

00:01 Introduction to Eco Pools

The water business for many [many] years, before we started Eco Pools [uh] I started in about 1983 working on fish farms and I’ve been in aquaculture for a long time [uh] I got my PhD in bio-engineering in 2003 and in about 2006 we started, well I started Eco Pools with a partner of mine. [um] and that was just a way that I could apply my bio-engineering qualification and all those years of aqua culture experience to something which is actually a tangible difference immediately, you know aquaculture is a bit of [uh] factory farming. There’s no difference between factory farming chickens and factory farming fish and my heart really wasn’t in it for all those years and this was an opportunity to really make a tangible difference to water situations and to people and how they perceive clean rather than sterile and its an important distinction to make. [uh] so we started about 10 years ago a pool that someone was struggling with, she hated the chlorine, it was leaking [uh] she didn’t want to do anything with it she wanted to fill it up with sand and because I had been designing filtration systems for commercial aquaculture which demanded a very high-water quality it seemed like the logical thing to apply the same principals to a swimming pool as we were applying to large marine and fresh water hatcheries. And it [oh] worked ok you know it worked well if I look back all those years ago. [uh] we doing things very differently now to when we started, but it worked well enough you know and [uh] she was happy with it. Her next door neighbour took one look at it and said it was wonderful [inaudible].

Emmanuel: Yeah, certainly very interesting and the very last question I am going to ask is what you described now about your first project if you can do that with our pool but I will get to that in a moment.Top

Jerome: Laughs and says ok. Top

02:35 What is aquaculture?

Emmanuel: Yeah, the word that you were using just now, did you say aquaponics? In other words, water culture?

Jerome: Yes, aquaculture is farming aquatic organisms.

Emmanuel: I understand.

Jerome: So yeah whether its fish or oysters or whatever. Top

02:54 What is the difference between Eco Pools and Conventional Pools?

Emmanuel: Now what I am interested in is how Eco Pools are different to conventional pools and you were talking now [now] about leaking is [is] that something that the Eco Pools also addresses or is that just something that you also do? If you can just give us a little bit of background in comparing the 2?

Jerome: Ok [ok] well that is a good question, I think I’ll answer that question first and then go back to what the difference is. You know the wonderful thing about an Eco Pool is that it’s a living entity, it’s not a dead sterile body of water that if a frog falls in it dies you know. It’s a living body of water that accepts the frog and makes more frogs [um] so the difference is essentially that the pool is sterile and [uh] eco pools are not they’re alive they are full of life you not trying to kill everything so really the difference is in the whole approach. I always explain it in this way and I explain it from a water chemistry perspective that’s really the route that we have gone lately so you get to the route of the water chemistry because it’s all about getting that organic chemistry right. So, you know water is a universal solvent, if 2 hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom make the water molecule and it’s a highly polar molecule in other words it’s got a highly negative and a highly positive pole to it and whenever anything drops into the water it rips whatever other molecule to pieces and that’s why it becomes a universal solvent, it just dissolves everything and at the same time when all those hydrogen molecules line up on the surface of the water everything is attracted to it so it attracts dust and pollen and leaves and even a plastic bag floating above will be drawn down onto the surface through hydrostatic forces and then it dissolves and so the nutrient content of water continuously increases. [uh] so a normal swimming pool will have a very high nutrient content cause the waters constantly dissolving everything around. Then the algae loves to grow in a high nutrient environments, sunlight, water and nutrients is what algae and all plants need to grow and so in a conventional pool what you do is poison the algae starting to grow and it will go away for a while and then you have to poison it again and as the years go by your nutrients keep on climbing so it becomes harder and harder to balance the water chemistry. So, what we do as opposed to that constant killing is we say ok life wants to grow in water, why don’t we choose what life we want to grow in it and so we choose the right microbial environment, we choose the right levels for plants to grow in and we create an environment where the plants are out competing the algae because the plants are sucking up all the nutrients and there’s nothing left for the algae.

Emmanuel: Oh. So sorry to interrupt what you are saying is [um] where in the other way, in a conventional pool to remove the algae, whereas here, we saying let’s use it productively in feeding what we want to feed?

Jerome: Not really.

Emmanuel: Oh, ok.

Jerome: What we do is we setting up a competition, nature is highly competitive, things compete with each other all the time so what we do is we tipping the scales so we say we are going to use plants that are more efficient at using the nutrients than the algae is and therefore the algae doesn’t stand a chance.

Emmanuel: Ok, got you. So that [leads me] brings me to the next question. Top

07:01 Does an Eco Pool also address leaking?

Jerome: Oh, sorry I didn’t answer your question about the leaking.

Emmanuel: Oh, yes. Yes [yes, yes] please.

Jerome: Ok, so when we convert a pool that’s always been a chemical pool, what chemicals do is they make everything brittle, they constantly eating away at the sides of the pool, they constantly eating away at the pipes etc. as soon as you get rid of that highly corrosive chemical environment the water becomes very soft and nurturing. So, the process of getting towards the leak stops. In addition to that if there is a very fine crack in the concrete what happens is that little animals, bacteria and fungi and things like that start to grow in those little cracks and pools can selfheal, they can actually start to heal themselves.

Emmanuel: Ok, so water even to what a pool consists of will heal that material?

Jerome: The [the the cracks] damage that has been done by the chemicals will be undone by the [by the] natural life that wants to grow where there is a natural flow of water.

Emmanuel: Yeah and even to the extent [even to the extent] of repairing the crack or am I not understanding?

Jerome: Yes, absolutely, to the extent of repairing the crack, if the crack is small enough.

Emmanuel: Yeah of course.

Jerome:  Where it’s a big crack you have to make it narrower, but often you know a leak in the pool is not a big crack, it’s a fine hairline crack of water seeping through.

Emmanuel: I understand, yeah. Now it sounds as if this is almost magic, but it makes sense in terms of that it’s nature doing its job at fixing things.

Jerome: Yes, absolutely you know, I think it’s a big lesson that humans need to learn and that we are slowly learning, we need to get out of the way. We need to stop fighting nature and observe it very carefully and see how it works and work with it (Emmanuel agrees in the background) and see exactly the principles that are used.

Emmanuel: Very interesting. Top

09:31 How to maintain an Eco Pool?

Emmanuel: Now in terms of maintenance, is an Eco Pool maintenance wise as much work as a conventional pool or less, or more, or the same more or less?

Jerome: It is a very different maintenance activity, so where as a chemical pool is about balancing the chemicals, you know having the pH exactly correct and you know bombing the water every once in a while, what a natural pool becomes is a gardening exercise where you have to feed the plants back. You have to vacuum the bottom from time to time, but you don’t need a creepy crawly going all the time so it becomes less in its intensity and more in its pleasure you know. But if you don’t like cutting plants then it is a pain you know because you have to keep on cutting those plants back or they start to take over. Plants can get really big and kind of compete with each other so you want to keep it well trimmed and neat and you have to empty leaf baskets cause you like to keep the surface clean.

Emmanuel: Yes.

Jerome: But on the balance, I would say it’s a lot less maintenance especially once the pool has settled in you know, it needs a settling in period. Top

10:58 Would avid gardeners enjoy Eco Pools?

Emmanuel: And my wife being an avid gardener, she would enjoy this?

Jerome: Oh man, I love the opportunity, when I can spend time at my pool at home, I love it.

Emmanuel: Yes Top

11:12 If there are plants in the pool, how do I swim in it?

Emmanuel: Ok, Jerome, what I’m not clear on is where are these plants? Are they in the swimming pool themselves? How do I swim in the pool then?

Jerome: Right, Ok, so the pool is always divided into different sections one section has the plants in it and the other section is open water. So the pool is divided either with a wall in the pool, sometimes when we do conversions we build a wall through the middle of the pool or around the edges of the pool so that the plants are in one section and there’s always an open swimming section that’s got no plants. Top

11:54 What sort of relationship exists between the plant and clear water divide?

Emmanuel:  Ok, understood. And [uh, uh] the comparison between the part where you have plants and where the clear water is, what [what] sort of relationship do you need there?

Jerome: In terms of space?

Emmanuel: Size yeah.

Jerome: Well it all depends on the technology that we employ, so over the years we have developed a variety of different technologies, some more intensive than others. [uh] and by intensifying it I mean that we put in more specialised technologies in the form of different mineral gravels to filter the water through which improves the way it works [um] different ways of pumping there’s just things we have evolved over time so, it ranges from about 30% of the [of the] total surface being planted to about 50% of the total surface being planted.

Emmanuel: I understand, right I just want to sneak in a question on our pool at home. It’s a rock pool and it takes up all the space but at the terrace, just a little bit higher there is the space relationship that you are mentioning to know [uh] referring to now. Can these 2 different [um] parts of the pool be at different levels.

Jerome: Yes absolutely.

Emmanuel: Oh, nice.

Jerome: So, you can put the plants at the higher terrace and let the water flow back into the pool or you can have a lower terrace and have the water flow down into the eco zone. Top

13:45 Can we use our existing pool pump for the Eco Pool or do you have a specific pump for Eco Pools?

Emmanuel: Ok so, and can we just use the existing pool pump or do you, as part of what you do, let’s call it a conversion do you then also bring in different types of pumps?

Jerome: Yes, we definitely bring in a different type of pump, because you know your conventional pump, we have to run the pumps 24 hours a day.

Emmanuel: Understood, yeah.

Jerome: Cause you’ve got to keep everything alive and if you did that with your conventional pool pump it would cost a fortune in electricity.

Emmanuel: Correct.

Jerome: So, we change the pump and we generally using about 95 watts you know as opposed to your conventional pool pump which is like 1000 watts. So, we’re reducing electricity consumption dramatically by bringing in our commercial pumps even if they are running for longer it’s about a 60-70% saving on electricity over all. Top

14:42 Could I run the Eco Pool pump off a solar panel?

Emmanuel: That’s excellent, I suppose if I take it a step further I could say why don’t we run that pump with a solar panel?

Jerome: Yes, you can absolutely, we have done a couple of those but you know the investment in alternating current, I mean in direct current is high you know. You have to buy the panels, the pumps are much more expensive, with the current electricity prices it only really makes sense when there aren’t any electricity points.

Emmanuel: Ok, so [so] what you saying is from a solar voltaic panel to your inverter to your pump is just making it too expensive?

Jerome: It seems to be at the moment you know. There are a couple of clients who [who, who] want to be off the grid and for them we have devised a whole set up but for the average client you know when we only running 95 watts if you look at the cost, it’s very low. Top

15:56 What about mosquitoes when one has an Eco Pool?

Emmanuel: I understand 100%, thank you so far, now the other interesting question, or I think it’s interesting. What about the mosquitoes in [in] an Eco Pool are they going to be part of the pool?

Jerome: No, you know mosquitoes are very vulnerable because they are one of the few insects that do not have gills so they depend on hanging down from the meniscus and breathing through a little tube, that’s why the choose very protective environments. An ideal environment for a mosquito is like in a tin can or a tyre or the bottom of your gutter, somewhere where there’s very little space for anything else. Preferably an environment where there’s no oxygen in the water. But with an Eco Pool, you develop an entire eco system in there and so there are plenty of predators, there is dragon fly larvae and diving beetles and may flies and all sorts of predators looking for a vulnerable little mosquito head upside down on the meniscus to eat so they get taken out very quickly. Even if they appear, they are around for a couple of days and then they gone.

Emmanuel: Ok, interesting. I have to say when you started introducing the Eco Pool and your first project, it’s exactly where we are. I have thought le’ts close the pool up and make parking and my wife has said no chance and we were both very excited when we uncovered Eco Pools.

Jerome: Well let me tell you in the Western Cape we are suffering from this terrible drought, and one of the exciting things that you can use your pool for is a water store, so you can let the water from your roof drain directly into the pool and we have developed a technology called eco islands which is based on the papyrus beds on the Okavango swamps. They float on the pools surface, they tied to the edges so that they can float up and down with the level of the water so they purify your water. The roof water can flow into your pool they circulate it through the eco island and then you can pump that water back up and use it in your home you know, it’s drinkable. So instead of closing your pool up in a drought, actually what you should be doing is converting it into a natural system. You can then drink that water rather than this disgusting, chlorinated poison. You can’t drink your pool water. Top

18:52 Waste water treatment and using your pool as a water storage facility.

Emmanuel: No, I understand. Well I think there would be a proportion issue? Ok, our pool is very small, it’s more a splash pool than anything else so the water collecting on the roof and flowing into that will fill it chop [chop] and then t will just over flow [flow over] ok but I understand what you are saying. Is this also part of your waste water treatment?

Jerome: It can be, if you don’t use the water for drinking in the house then you can take all your grey water, put it through our treatment system, our waste water treatment system which is based on very similar principles to the pool filtration [um] by the time it leaves the system it is no longer grey, it no longer smells and is perfect to use.

Emmanuel: Wow

Jerome: And you can use your pool as a store, you know the whole system can be circulated. Reduce your [your] consumption from the grid enormously with that system.

Emmanuel: Yeah, this certainly sounds interesting. And I just had another thought, seeing as the pool is small. We could always pump water out of the pool and store it somewhere else?

Jerome: Yes, yes, absolutely you can. But I mean if your pool is very small, you know, I would use the grey water and pump it directly to a tank and use the roof water just for the pool. Top

20:35 Can a conventional pool easily be converted into an Eco Pool?

Emmanuel: I understand, ok [ok]. Well thank you so far, now the other question that I am curious about, and it sounds like I don’t have to ask the question, seeing as how we’ve discussed it so far so a conventional pool or in our case a rock pool can easily be converted into an Eco Pool?

Jerome: Yeah, yeah. Look it’s never as easy as building a new pool because the conversion has compromise around, but yes absolutely. About half our business is conversions and we’ve developed over the years so many different ways of doing it that you know however the budget allows or [inaudible] it’s a relatively simple thing.

Emmanuel: I understand. Top

21:25 Do you service the whole of South Africa?

Emmanuel: Jerome but now do you service the whole of South Africa or just a particular area?

Jerome: We have offices in Cape Town and we have offices in Johannesburg, [um] our Johannesburg offices service the whole of Gauteng and up to Hoedspruit, Limpopo and Mpumalanga and we also have a [a] what we call a guided construction where we sell the design including the drawing to people who are just too far away to make financial [inaudible].

Emmanuel: Like a do it yourself?

Jerome: That’s it. And we sell them the pumps that they need and the plants and whatever they need we can get it all up to them and they build it themselves using our design.

Emmanuel: Very interesting. We’ll definitely have to invite you back for some more information, [um] so far it sounds very [very] interesting Jerome. Is there anything else that you, we drawing to a close now very shortly? Is there anything else that you want to share further that we might have missed so far?

Jerome: [Shew] you know if you do something every day there’s so much to talk about. I think just to focus people’s ideas about what it is that they are doing when they are installing a new system and I think the biggest benefit of having an Eco Pool is the quality of the swim. When you get into living water it changes the way that you feel and that can’t compare to anything else so that I think is the ultimate reward and as well I think the ally to that is the aesthetic value of having something beautiful and natural as opposed to dead and rather plain and the value of that is 12 months a year. You know a swimming pool that you using a couple of months a year and the rest of the time it’s something that you have to service, this ugly blue hole, where as if it’s an Eco Pool it’s a water feature and every day you are getting value out of it and it’s increasing the predator count in your garden so you’ll have less mosquitoes actually if you’ve got an Eco Pool. [inaudible] so it makes it a quality difference that really can’t be quantified, besides all the practical benefits that you get from it. Top

24:05 What are the costs for an Eco Pool?

Emmanuel: Ok, certainly sounds interesting. What I didn’t ask [ok] so we going to give your website address in a moment so people can contact you via the website address and therefore ask for a quote and so forth, but can we just for a moment stop and look at costs [um] ok so we’ve touched on all the benefits but it sounds like our pool conversion will cost R 1 000 000 [uh] from all the benefits we going to get (chuckles in the background) but I suppose it’s a practical thing but can you give us more or less, not saying a price or anything but how does it compare what sort of price range are we looking at for a conversion of an average pool or a small pool etc. just to give our listeners an idea?

Jerome: Well using eco island to convert a pool, probably an average size pool [you know] would cost about R 50 000 to start.

Emmanuel: Sorry, I didn’t catch that amount just say that again?

Jerome: About 50 000.

Emmanuel: I see, ok [ok].

Jerome: Yes, for an average size pool, you know for a smaller pool it would be a bit less, for a bigger pool it would be a bit more and it ranges up you know, if you want waterfalls and rock features and beautiful lily pads and all sorts of things then it can cost much more.

Emmanuel: Yes.

Jerome: I mean we’ve done very fancy installations of [inaudible]. But that’s obviously not for everyone.

Emmanuel: Yeah, I certainly saw some very interesting pools on your website which I can see and fully understand it will be pricey.

Jerome: Yes.

Emmanuel: Ok, so if there’s nothing else, I am going to close up [uh] anything else? Last call? Top

26:07 Waste Water Treatment System Described.

Jerome: [um] I just wanted to describe our waste water treatment just a little bit.

Emmanuel: Ok, please do.

Jerome:  Yes, because it’s so pertinent in the Western Cape at the moment and you know about 30% of our water usage is flushing the toilet and to use drinking water for that is crazy. The problem with conventional grey water systems is that you have to use the water immediately, you can’t just store it.

Emmanuel: Yes.

Jerome: It goes off.

Emmanuel: Correct.

Jerome: It doesn’t smell and you can put it back into your toilet again and it can just sit there forever and it’s a wetland based system but as opposed to most wetland based systems it cannot block. That’s the whole key of our technology, it’s impossible for the system to block. And that’s the big problem with grey water wetlands is that eventually the microbial population gets thick and it blocks and so that’s the real benefit and [and] I’m telling you it should be law, you shouldn’t be able to flush your toilet with drinking water.

Emmanuel: Certainly, yeah, I understand. So just on that note, Radio Live Green Smart started as a result of us building a green home [um] and we basically catch the rain water and we use that for the washing machine, the toilets and for garden irrigation so I understand what you are meaning. Ok, anything else Jerome?

Jerome: [uh, no] no just the website [uh] details and if you ever wanted to do this again I’m always available.

Emmanuel: Ok, please [uh] give our listeners your website address.

Jerome: Should I do it now?

Emmanuel: Yes, please.

Jerome: So, it’s

Emmanuel: Thank you, so all the contact details are there so we don’t have to give out contact details now.

Jerome. No, has a contact page on it. Top

28:22 Wrap Up

Emmanuel: Ok, right listeners, so that was Dr. Jerome Davis, founder of Eco Pools. Thank you very much for all your very interesting information.

Jerome: Sure, it’s a pleasure.

Emmanuel: Ok, I’ll just repeat the website its and then further please note where we interview or run adverts the content is not necessarily endorsed by Radio Live Green Smart. I’m Emmanuel, your host, and over to the music. Top


End of Transcript Top

Midrand Boreholes Transcript

Midrand Boreholes Transcript

Midrand Boreholes

Title: Transcript of Anchor Read Advert Midrand Boreholes
Presented by: Emmanuel van der Meulen
Date: 3 May 2017
Number of Speakers: 1
File Duration: 04:58
Transcriptionist: Jacqui Jonk

Links are at the end of the transcript.

Transcript Breakdown:
00:01 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart.
00:50 Introduction to boreholes as well as the advantages of boreholes.
03:25 Introduction to Midrand Boreholes.

00:01 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart:

Emmanuel: Hello and welcome, to Radio Live Green Smart and to our short borehole presentation and advert. Radio Live Green Smart is a forum to discuss green living, eco-friendly living and importantly a forum to discuss where we see disrespect for the environment first hand. Bring such disrespect to us, we’ll assist to expose such [inaudible error] environmental disrespect. Use the contact us to send the details of the respect, please make sure to provide comprehensive information. Top

00:50 Introduction to boreholes as well as the advantages of boreholes.

Introduction to boreholes: boreholes has an initial cost, the cos t covers the drilling, the encasing, the pump and piping. Boreholes are governed by [inaudible error] bylaws of the area. It’s important to research the bylaws before sinking a borehole. A large portion of water is used for garden irrigation. That means irrigating the garden at the office or at home, therefore boreholes are well suited for domestic and office use. There are direct monthly water savings which easily covers the initial cost multiple times in a short period. This is the cost of the initial outlay to sink a borehole. There are also indirect costs, like the pumping of the water to our dwelling, be it domestic or the office, all the way from the service provider. Combining all these aspects [it’s not] it’s easy to see that a borehole contributes to reducing our [to reducing to our to reducing our] carbon footprint.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of having a borehole[s]. Self-sufficiency: the water that a borehole produces is sitting dormant in the ground, making use of it means that we simply utilising an unused ground water resource. Furthermore, we save money: by drilling a borehole we tap into the water supply and cut out a large percentage of water costs. Taking it a step further by opting for filtration: we have a steady supply of drinking water. Taking the borehole, a step further: [another step further] in the short term having access to a borehole saves money and also in the long term it adds value to the property. Top

03:25 Introduction to Midrand Boreholes.

Midrand Boreholes, that’s the company, specialises in the drilling and casing of water producing boreholes. They say: we also drill holes for exploration, monitoring and investigation purposes, during which detailed logs and samples are kept for further analysis. Further they say: our drillers and their driller systems are well informed and highly experienced in addition to being passionate about their work. They say: water is life and to please contact us on 082 262 0580, Ill repeat that, 082 262 0580 or email us on [email protected] (the Midrand Boreholes is one word).

That was a short introduction to boreholes, please note where we interview or provide such adverts the content is not necessarily endorsed by Radio Live Green Smart, and now over to the music. Top


End of Transcript Top




Eco Friendly

4 unconventional ways to save on your water bill (without cutting down on your water usage)

4 unconventional ways to save on your water bill (without cutting down on your water usage)

There is lots of advice out there on how to cut down on your water usage and save money on your water bill. But why deprive yourself of water simply to save a few Rand? We’ve come up with four ways to save money without having to cut down on your water.

Plant indigenous plants in your garden

When a garden is filled with indigenous plants, you will barely need to water or maintain it throughout the year. Indigenous plants can withstand the hot South African summers, while still staying green during winter months. Imagine having to almost never water your garden except in drought months!

Awareness is increasing in South Africa regarding trees and plants that are not native to South Africa. These plants are often referred to as invaders. Invader plants have a way of stifling the growth of native plants by:

  • Stealing moisture during dry seasons
  • Taking up space and crowding other plants
  • Self-seeding prolifically, not giving other plants a chance
  • Growing elaborate root systems that cannot be unearthed
  • Not adding any benefits to animals such as birds and insects

Another aspect to having these plants in your garden is the maintenance. Many of them steal moisture from your soil—meaning you are forced to water your garden more regularly to ensure the survival of indigenous plants. You will be required to trim these plants regularly to ensure they don’t take over. Worst of all, when seeding takes place you are left with hundreds of weeds.

The benefits to having a purely indigenous garden are many. Here are a few reasons we planted them in our homes:

  • Indigenous plants work well together. Because they are native to South Africa, they benefit each other; coexisting in a way that cannot take place with other plants.
  • These plants are more likely to stay green all year round. They don’t mind harsh climates, as they have already adapted themselves to our weather conditions.
  • Maintenance such as watering, trimming and shaping is minimal with indigenous plants. They work well together to create unity within your garden—without much effort from people.
  • Indigenous plants also bring life to your home. Because they house birds, insects and small animals, your garden will soon become its own little ecosystem. Another reason why working WITH nature is so much better!

So it’s not only about saving water—it’s also about all these other benefits. Now let’s look at another way to save water…

Harvest rainwater for everyday cleaning

Installing a  rainwater harvesting system on your property is an excellent investment. Rainwater is not fit for drinking, bathing or showering; but it can be used in almost any other capacity in your home. Use rainwater to flush your toilets, washing machine and your outside taps. In fact, any cleaning can be done with harvested rainwater which has been coarsely filtered.

Many people wonder whether rainwater is clean enough to use in the home. The answer is, YES! Basic rainwater collection tanks are perfect for watering your garden. But if you want to take it one step further, then a rainwater filtering system is excellent.

These systems perform three major functions:

  • First of all they collect rainwater more efficiently than regular surface mounted tanks. That’s because they are installed in strategic positions which maximise collection potential.
  • Second, these systems perform general coarse filtering of your water. This takes place by extracting the water from just above the surface—thereby giving you the cleanest portion.
  • Finally, these systems go one step further by distributing the water to certain areas of the home. This includes the toilets, the washing machine and the irrigation system for your garden.

That’s right. If you can get your rainwater tank connected to your plumbing, you can even use it for toilet flushing! This is a system that is usually pre-installed in a ready-built green home; but if you plan on staying in your home for years to come, there’s no reason why you can’t install such a system in your current home.

As mentioned, unfiltered rainwater is not fit for consumption. But some would argue that tap water isn’t either. So why fill your water filter with tap water when rainwater is free? If it’s available and accessible, you may as well use what nature has already given you free of charge! Since most of us use water filters/coolers in our homes, there’s nothing wrong with filtering your rainwater for the purpose of consumption. Simply access your water at the source, collect it in a jug, and fill your water filter. Within a few hours you will have perfectly clean drinking water that didn’t cost you a cent!

Now you may be wondering about the price. What does rainwater harvesting cost? How hard are these systems to maintain?

Although decent rainwater harvesting systems cost a bundle, they provide a return on investment that far surpasses their initial cost. This is a viable long term option for homeowners who want to save on their utility bill.

Maintenance on rainwater harvesting systems is minimal. These systems are designed in such a way that they run themselves. And because there are no complicated mechanics to how they work, they won’t breakdown or malfunction.

Reduce the need for running your taps unnecessarily

Plumbing has slowly evolved over the decades. Today we have awesome systems which will help you save on your water bill. Although these savings are small at first, accumulatively they make a massive difference.

One such system is a heat pump. Heat pumps work in conjunction with three other systems which keep your hot water warm within the pipes. These include:

  • Hot water pipe insulation
  • Insulation of the tank to negate the need for constant heating
  • A linked loop plumbing system to prevent waste

We’ll look at each of these aspects more closely. But first, let’s explore how having hot water immediately on tap ultimately saves water.

You may be surprised to learn how much water is wasted while you wait for it to warm up. Conventional plumbing systems allow water within the pipes to cool down within minutes of your previous use. So every time you need hot water, you have to run your hot water tap for about 15 seconds or more before it warms up.

This wastes A LOT of water! Collectively, litres and litres of water are lost. That’s literally money down the drain.

So let’s now look at the three factors that help you save money on your water bill:

  • Hot water pipe insulation

When hot water flows through pipes, insulation keeps it warm. Insulation material is wrapped around pipes to ensure heat is not lost while the water sits dormant inside. This ensures that hot water is immediately accessible whenever the hot water tap is turned on.

  • Insulation of your water tank

In addition to the pipes being insulated, the tank needs to retain its temperature too. By keeping the water tank insulated, water does not require constant heating. Electricity is saved and so is water—because again, you don’t need to run your tap to get to the hot water. It’s already there!

  • Linked loop plumbing

A linked loop plumbing system is another practical way to keep hot water accessible throughout your home. This again negates the need for running water to get it to the desired temperature. Linked loop plumbing ensures that water is always warm, always accessible no matter where you are in your house.

Use reputable green vendors to fit your plumbing systems

As with all industries, the green home industry in South Africa is rife with low quality materials and installers. That’s why it’s important to find reputable vendors when looking into these systems. Yes, you will pay a little more. But rather that than having to worry about problems down the line.

Here are some you may hear about:

  • Leaking pipes

Leaking pipes may cause you unimaginable problems later on. Because these pipes are built into walls, floor and ceilings, they need to be of a very high quality. Low quality pipes will leak after a few years and breaking down your home to repair them is simply not worth it. And even if you don’t realise you have a leak, your water bill will be ridiculously high despite your attempts to save on water usage.

  • Cheap insulation material

We’ve already seen how insulation of pipes and hot water tanks can save money on your water [and electricity] bill. But if that insulation material comes loose, it’s function is lost. Additionally, if the wrong type of material is used, your insulation won’t be as effective.

  • Poor installation

When a green plumbing system is not fitted correctly, it will not perform as well. If it’s not performing the way it should, it’s not saving you money—and is therefore a useless addition to your home.

  • Cheap brands

Green home components should come from reputable green suppliers. There are countless cheap brands out there and many South African installers use these brands—choosing price over quality. Do a bit of research before you get an installer out and make sure they know their brands.

Don’t be discouraged by these possible problems. Fortunately there are companies in South Africa that are serious about delivering a high quality service.

 These water saving strategies are probably very different from the ones you’re used to reading about. And while they are unconventional methods, they are super effective in giving you a return on your investment.

If you’ve never considered green features as a way to save on your water bill, then now’s the time to look into it. As green home development increases, more and more of these methods will be implemented. Accumulatively, when water is saved, it has a huge impact on our planet.

It also has a positive effect on the economy since everyone benefits when water is saved! So, for saving on your pocket, your planet and your peace of mind; implement these systems wherever you can and save our most precious resource.

Are green homes only for the rich?

Are green homes only for the rich?

Is the only thing holding you back from investing in a green home the fear that you simply can’t afford it? It’s a common misconception that living off the grid is only possible for the rich. While other’s think that converting their existing home will result in over-capitalization. By the end of this article you’ll come to realise that green homes are not just affordable, but actually add more value to your biggest investment.

Starting from scratch

If you’re in the market for a new home, it makes sense to look for one that already has many green features. Although there are not many of these homes available yet, these homes boast several innovative features that are not only eco-friendly, but contribute significant savings to the running of your household.

Knowing what to look for in a green home is the first step to evaluating whether it will be a good investment. Here are some pointers that you can use:

  • It makes the best use of the location: An eco-friendly home should work with the environment to achieve maximum efficiency. If it’s correctly orientated, a green home can use natural sunlight to ensure that it’s easier to heat in winter, and just as easy to cool in summer. Taking advantage of natural sunlight and shadow means you spend less money keeping your living space at a comfortable temperature throughout the year.
  • It is properly insulated:Most regular homes aren’t well insulated at all. This means that any money you spend trying to make your home comfortable just goes to waste. A green home is not just well-insulated; it also makes use of eco-friendly materials to ensure comfort and sustainability. The floors, walls and roof of your green home should all be insulated.
  • It uses efficient heating and cooling systems:Underfloor heating and cooling may sound like an expensive luxury, but in a green home it provides a more efficient method of keeping your home at the right temperature. Use the innovative hydronics heating and cooling system to achieve this. Pipes laid throughout the house enables hot and cold water to be pumped under the flooring. This is far more efficient and affordable than using heaters in winter or air conditioners in summer to adjust the temperature of your interior spaces.
  • It relies on solar energy:This may seem to be the most obvious feature of green homes. At the very least, a solar water heater provides free energy for heating the water that you use on a daily basis. If you instead add different panels and batteries, you can generate enough power to run your entire home without relying only on the grid.
  • It’s water-wise:Clean water is rapidly becoming one of the most precious resources on the planet. And as time goes on, accessing water will become even more expensive. That’s why most green homes make use of water tanks to collect rainwater which can be used for everything from washing your car to flushing your toilet, and importantly to irrigate your garden. And the good news is that this doesn’t have to take the form of an unsightly tank in your garden. Instead, they are buried underground and fitted with energy efficient pumps to make the water available where you need it.

While these are just some of the basic features that any good green home should have, look out for those that offer little extras. Double-glazed windows, a garden with indigenous plants and bamboo flooring or counter tops all go a long way to making your home efficient and sustainable.

Counting the cost

Understanding the true cost of a green home requires you to do some serious calculations. While it’s true that you initial investment is higher than normal, you should factor in your future costs to see how much you’ll save in the long term.

To do this, you’ll need to calculate how much energy and water you currently consume and what it costs you every month. You can do this by monitoring your consumption and bills for a month or two. Then, you’ll need to estimate how much your expenses will increase as the cost of these resources continues to rise. Finally, you can offset this against the initial costs of buying a green home.

You’ll realise, as others have, that investing in a green home offers you substantial future savings. On average, you’ll find that it takes between 8 – 10 years to recoup your green investment. And, you’ll have many years of future savings to look forward to. As the costs of electricity rises, you’ll actually end up saving even more with each passing year.

Buying a green home is a serious commitment though. To really appreciate the savings you can enjoy, you’ll remain in your home longer—and when moving, you’ll move to another eco-friendly home of course.

The good news doesn’t end there. Should you ever sell your green home, you’ll find that you can command a higher price for your property. And because green homes require less maintenance, you won’t have to spend a lot of money preparing your home for resale.

Retrofitting your existing home

Even if you’re not in a position to buy a ready-fitted green home, there are several things you can do to make your existing home more energy-efficient. Retro-fitting an existing home with green features is often considered expensive. But once again, you need to take into account your future savings to determine how cost-effective these measures are.

Aside from cost, most people are unsure of where to start greening an existing home. However, it’s always a good idea to start small and build-up to bigger projects. Very often, some serious research is required to determine just what the final cost and savings may be. If you need help, consult with experts who will be able to give you the right advice. Some of these projects require specific knowledge and tools, so don’t be tempted to take the DIY route if you don’t have the necessary skills.

Start small

There’s more to owning a green home than just enjoying the cost savings. It requires a mind-shift to start living in a different way. So if you think that you’re ready to embrace a new way of living, try out some small projects before committing to the bigger ones.

  • Be aware of how much energy you use: Simply turning off the lights as you leave a room is a good habit to develop. If you do eventually install photo-voltaic solar panels to power your home, you’ll need to be conscious of your energy consumption. That way, if you do make the switch to solar power, you’ll use it wisely and not waste it.
  • Use energy efficient products: Light bulbs, dishwashers and fridges all consume electricity. If you ever get to the point where you generate your own electricity, you’ll want to make sure your household appliances are energy efficient.
  • Monitor your water usage: Cutting down on your time in the shower can be difficult. But ultimately, it will help you save money on both your water and energy consumption. If you’re going to install a solar water heater, you’ll appreciate just what it takes to have a hot shower in the morning.
  • Get water-wise: It’s so easy to just turn on a tap and have access to fresh water that we tend to take it for granted. So start thinking about all the water you use during the day and what steps you can take to cut down. Plant indigenous in your garden, pop a brick in your toilet and re-use your grey water for washing your car.

Once you’re aware of your consumption habits, it will become easier for you to see the value in investing in the bigger projects. When you’re ready to make the change, here are some of the ways you can retro-fit your home:

  • Solar water heaters: Installing a solar water heater can knock a good 30% off your monthly electricity bill. When measured against the installation costs, it means you can re-coup your investment within 4 – 5 years. Most solar water heaters come with a five year guarantee and last between 15 – 20 years. As they don’t require much maintenance, this makes them one of the easiest green features you can use in an existing home.
  • Insulation:An energy-efficient home is one that is well insulated. With existing homes it may be difficult or costly to add more insulation, but the investment is well worth it. Often your roof is the best place to start as it’s quite easy to add a layer of insulation here. But be sure to use environmentally-friendly material for this project. You can also check your windows and doors for air leaks and use insulating strips or caulk to seal them from draughts.
  • Rainwater harvesting tanks:This very much depends on the space you have available on your property. However, there are plenty of options available on the market; your bound to find one that suits your requirements. These tanks can also be buried underground so they won’t detract from the appearance of your property. And they can be fitted to work with the existing municipal supply so you’ll never have to worry that you won’t have access to water when you need it.
  • Photo-voltaic solar panels:Living off the grid is possible, but for existing homes it requires a significant investment. However, you can easily start with some panels and add to them as you save on your monthly bills. As with the rainwater tanks, you can supplement your solar panel with the municipal electricity supply.

Once you start investigating the options available for retro-fitting an existing home, you’ll see just how easy and affordable it can be. Not only will you enjoy considerable savings on your monthly running costs, you’ll also be adding significant value to your home. And should you ever want to sell your home, you’ll be able to command a higher price.

What’s more affordable?

The answer to this question will depend on your current situation. If you’re considering buying a new home, it would make sense to find one that has all the green features you want. And while this may mean that you spend more money initially, you will end up saving immediately and continuously.

If moving is not an option, then this article should prove to you that it’s still possible to go green without spending a fortune. Researching various green features will help you make a decision on where to start. And you’ll find that once you have implemented some of these suggestions, you’ll save money which you can put towards your next project.

It’s safe to say that being environmentally conscious isn’t just for the rich. With proper planning and dedication, anyone can change their home into green home. Are you ready to make the change?

Cost of maintaining eco-friendly homes

Cost of maintaining eco-friendly homes

Finding the perfect home is hard work. As it’s the biggest investment we’ll ever make, it’s worth taking our time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of every property. We’d also need to consider how much maintenance our home requires. If our preference is to spend more time enjoying our home, and less time maintaining it, eco-friendly homes are ideal.

The importance of maintaining your home

It’s something that first time home buyers rarely consider—how much will it cost to maintain a dream home? It’s easy to fall in love with a property that we’ve only seen a few times. Only when living in the home will we realise the work it requires to keep it in tip-top shape and in perfect working order. Maintenance is essential to maintain or improve the value of our home for years to come.

A swimming pool or a large garden might be a pre-requisite: They both need a lot of work; to keep the pool clean and sparkling; and a lot of water is required to keep the garden. Maintenance requires time, effort and money. By adopting a greener living philosophy reduces the aforementioned multiple fold. Looking at purpose built eco-friendly homes thus becomes an attractive option.

Do eco-friendly homes require special maintenance?

Does green living features such as photovoltaic solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system require special maintenance with prohibitive costs? Although these are cutting-edge green technologies, they been designed to be simple and easy to maintain. Let’s look at each of the features typically found in eco-friendly homes and how much they cost to maintain:

  • Photovoltaic solar panels

Photovoltaic solar panels are made of semiconductors, a material that absorbs energy from the sun and converts it into electric current to power appliances and devices in our homes. They’re a standard feature of eco-friendly homes and are often the first image that comes to mind when we hear the words ‘eco-friendly’. They help homeowners reduce their reliance on the grid for electricity.

While they look impressive, photovoltaic solar panels actually require very little maintenance. They’re built to last and to withstand hail and storms. Photovoltaic solar panels don’t have moving parts that rust or break. The only maintenance needed is cleaning.

Safety first! When working on the roof to clean the photovoltaic solar panels requires safety precautions.

Dirt, grime, bird droppings and debris block the sun from being absorbed efficiently by the panels. So cleaning is a key aspect of photovoltaic solar panel maintenance. Inspecting the photovoltaic solar panels periodically, around once per year. If they do need cleaning it’s as easy as using a garden hose to rinse off the worst of the dust and grime. If they need more attention, using a squeegee and some soapy water gives them a good clean. Then using a hose to rinse off the soapy water and they’ll be as good as new. This is an easy task for DIY enthusiasts. Or is easily done by a professional. Remember safety first!

Aside from a simple wash down, photovoltaic solar panels do not require any expensive, specialist maintenance.

  • Rainwater harvesting tanks

Harvesting rainwater for use in the garden and home is an effective way to reduce our reliance on the municipal supply. Harvested rainwater reduces the use of municipal water over the year by around 60% and fits in with living green. Here are some preventative maintenance points to consider:

  • Clear your roof and gutters

Remove leaves, debris and overhanging branches from the roof and gutters. That way, bird dropping won’t find their way into the tank and cause water discolouration, odours or bacterial growth.

  • Check the screens

Periodically check the inlet/s and outlet/s screens and filters for leaves and insects, any blockages and damage, and clean or repair the screens or filters. Some systems come with self-cleaning options.

  • Keep the pump clean

Depending on the type of system, the pump needs regular checking to make sure it is working properly. Cleaning/replacing the filter is a necessity. This is another DIY job; by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Check the first-flush diverters and rain-heads

Regularly clean and empty the first-flush diverters and rain-head. This is necessary to prevent roof debris, insects and plant particles from getting into the system. Certain systems do this automatically.

  • Check for cracks, holes and gaps

With some tanks it is necessary to ensure they are structurally sound. Repairing any gaps or holes stops animals and insects from getting into the tank and reduces the risk of algae and bacteria infecting the system.

  • Taking care of the water filters

If the tank is used to provide water to toilets and the washing machine, it will have a water filter. These filters generally need to be rinsed and where required replaced. This is another small maintenance job for the DIY enthusiast.

  • Inspect the tank for accumulated sludge

Sludge will accumulate in the tank and needs to be checked and cleaned professionally.

For all the added value and savings rainwater harvesting tanks provide, the maintenance they require is minimal. Most eco-friendly houses install water tanks underground to save on space and maintenance costs. Because these tanks aren’t exposed there’s minimal chance for them to crack or leak.

  • Heat pumps

Although heat pumps may not be the most eco-friendly option for some scenarios, they are incredibly efficient. This makes them a popular choice for eco-friendly houses. They require professional servicing twice per year.

  • Bamboo countertops

A popular choice for eco-friendly houses; bamboo is a material that’s renewable, solid and durable. It looks beautiful and doesn’t need too much maintenance. And it’s not limited to countertops. Bamboo can be used as flooring, furniture and in construction.

A professionally installed bamboo countertop gives many years of pleasure. Here are some pointers to keep bamboo countertops looking as good as the day they were fitted:

  • Wipe the surface down on a regular basis with a damp cloth and an all-purpose, non-abrasive cleaning product. Avoid ammonia based cleaners as this may damage the surface.
  • Never use harsh chemicals or thinners based products on the countertop.
  • Don’t chop anything directly on the surface. Bamboo is tough, but knives and other sharp instruments will damage them.
  • If the surface is damaged, a light sanding and re-sealing should restore it to its previous condition.
  • If the bamboo countertop is severely damaged, it can be repaired and re-sealed by a professional.
  • Avoid putting hot pots and pans directly on the bamboo countertops. The heat will damage the surface.

Bamboo is a beautiful material that is very easy to care for. Looking after the bamboo countertops will avoid any expense repairs. In fact, as part of green living, it’s easy to make a natural cleaning solution to clean the countertops safely.

  • Aluminium and stainless steel

You cannot speak of durable building materials without mentioning stainless steel and aluminium. Green living is focused on using quality materials that last well and don’t have to be replaced often. Both of these metals live up to that philosophy.

As both of these materials are so easy to maintain, it’s worth investing in a home that utilises them.

  • Stainless steel

Used to construct the frame of eco-friendly homes, stainless steel is one of the recyclable materials in the world. Every year, millions of tonnes of stainless steel is recycled and used in a variety of construction projects. It’s is durable and strong and doesn’t rust. Stainless steel is a first choice for balustrades.

  • Aluminium

Aluminium window and door frames requires far less maintenance than wooden or steel frames. They don’t need to be painted or varnished and are easy to clean. When powdercoated almost no maintenance is required.

  • Face brick and naturally coloured roof tiles

There are few building materials requiring as low maintenance as face brick. With no plaster and paint, big maintenance projects are not required to keep the outside of the home looking neat. Eco-friendly houses favour face brick because it’s a durable material that doesn’t need any special care.

And when combined with naturally coloured roof tiles, maintenance is reduced even more. Naturally coloured tiles never fade and stand up well to hail, wind and other harsh weather conditions. Making smarter choices is a key element of green living.

  • A water wise garden

A water-wise garden cleverly landscaped and combined with indigenous plants and natural pest care saves time and money on maintenance. And requires very little water.

Greener living focuses on preserving resources and making our lives comfortable and efficient. A water-wise garden is the perfect example of this philosophy. Indigenous plants are well suited to the local environment and will thrive with little attention.

First-time home buyers get caught up in the excitement of house-hunting and don’t stop to consider the amount of effort and expense it takes to maintain a home. Being aware of the maintenance and costs, and of eco-friendly homes, creates more options. Green living and eco-friendly homes bring about benefits now and in the future as a green home increases in value and remains attractive to future buyers who recognise the benefits of living green.

Midrand Boreholes Podcast

Midrand Boreholes Podcast

Midrand Boreholes