Install a Greywater System

The average American uses 40 or more gallons of water every day at home.  Some of this water is reusable and perfect for watering outdoors!  The most common of these is called a “laundry to landscape” system.  Let your socks help keep your garden green!

Challenging
Households: 0 completed, 0 committed
360
Points ?
$30
Annual Savings
$50 - $100
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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kWh Electricity
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0
Therms Natural Gas
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0
Gallons Gas
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3588
Gallons Water
  • Save precious water resources
  • Save money
  • Help with outdoor watering in areas with drought

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Overview

The Action
We will install a greywater system.
Is this action for me?
If you own your home and have outdoor watering, this action is for you!
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime. DIY? Maybe, depending on what type of system you choose and your comfort with home improvement projects.
How long will it take?
Medium - time to plan and design your system and an afternoon for a simple system installation.
What is the cost?
Around $50 - $100 for part for a simple system, more for a complicated system. Additional costs for professional installation.

Benefits

  • Save precious water resources

  • Save money

  • Help with outdoor watering in areas with drought

Resources

Rebate/Credit

EBMUD Customers: Offset the cost of a graywater system valve.

Financing

Find the best financing options for your energy efficiency project with Go Green Financing.

Find loan options for home energy & water upgrades through Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

Information

Learn about and construct your own greywater and rainwater catchment systems.

The Basics

There are several ways to save and reuse water from your home, from a bucket in the shower to catch water to flush toilets to plumbing setups that re-route the water from your laundry or shower directly to your garden. This is easy to do and can save significant water resources!

Checklist

Learn about greywater systems
Put a bucket in the shower
Plan your system
Decide DIY or professional
Purchase and install
Use your greywater system!
Use safe soaps and detergents

How it works

Greywater is gently used water from your shower or washing machine that is clean enough for reuse in your garden.   Greywater is not safe for human consumption, but is great for your plants!  A simple greywater system uses gravity and either barrels or hoses to route the water to your garden.  More complicated systems include filter and pumps and can tie into drip irrigation systems.

The simplest system - a bucket in your shower!  Simple greywater systems are relatively easy to set up and can create a good steady water source for your plants.  This is especially helpful in areas experiencing drought.  Greywater should be used within 24 hours.

The simplest system - a bucket in the shower

The simplest way to start collecting greywater is by keeping a bucket in the bathroom. Use it to collect the “warm-up” water that runs in the shower until the water is just the right temperature. This water can be used to flush toilets or water house plants or your garden.  You can also collect warm-up water from the bathroom or kitchen sink, just use a smaller bowl.

Up to 40% of household water is used for flushing toilets, which makes this a great place to use greywater!  Simply pour the greywater into the toilet bowl at a decent speed until a “flush” occurs, without using the flush handle.  Greywater should not be put directly into the tank, as the residue from soaps can corrode the parts inside. There is also the risk of greywater leaching into the fresh water supply, in the case of low water pressure.

Laundry or shower to landscape

The next step up is a laundry or shower to landscape system.  A greywater system from your laundry is the easiest system to set up and a great DIY project.  Just route the hose from your washing machine where water is drained to either a drum or a system of hoses that bring the water to your garden.  The internal pump from the washing machine automatically pushes the water out, without the need for an extra pump.

Each load of laundry creates from 10 to 40 gallons of water depending on your washing machine.  If you do laundry regularly, this can be a great regular source of water for your garden!  A bit more complicated setup connects your shower to your garden.  This requires a bit more plumbing to set up and also often requires a pump to deliver the water.  Check out more information on a basic greywater system.

DIY or professional

A simple laundry to landscape system is often a great DIY project, depending on your comfort level for home improvement projects.  A more complicated system from your shower, or a system that includes pumps or ties into drip irrigation systems, requires more skill and might benefit from consulting a professional.

Gardening with greywater

The best use of water from a simple greywater system is to water larger plants like trees, bushes, shrubs and large annuals.  It is more difficult to water lots of small plants over a large area.  Make sure to match the water amounts being provided to your plants' needs.  If you use greywater for plants that produce food, it is important to keep the greywater on only the roots of the plants and not any parts that will be consumed.

It is also important to make sure the soaps you are using are not harmful to your plants.  It’s also a good practice in general for all water uses!  For a greywater system, avoid harsh chemicals like chlorine bleach and borax or salts.  Look for products labeled “biodegradable” or “biocompatible”.