The pressurized system allows the first 900 gallons in a full cistern to be used for landscape irrigation, car washing, and anything else outdoors—free from occasional citywide use restrictions in the summer. But if the cistern’s capacity dips below 500 gallons, the system automatically reverts to serving only the toilets. And if the power goes out, rendering the pumps inactive, the toilets automatically switch to pressurized city water through second lines into each fixture—a redundancy that costs extra but delivers peace of mind and a hassle-free experience.
The rest of Hollyport’s outdoor water-saving plan includes turf areas that account for only 25% of the entire parcel, water-permeable hardscapes that return runoff to the ground, automated irrigation, and mulched planting areas that work with the cistern to contain 78% of the rainwater runoff on the home’s lot instead of taxing Richmond’s storm/sewer system, which the city is upgrading with a $25 annual tax on residents.
Next Tech. Beyond greywater- and rainwater-reuse systems, a few other technologies are emerging to further boost efficiency.
Advanced home humidifiers, for example, use far less water than older versions, while whole-house water softeners ease wear and tear on pipes and water heaters, allowing them to work at peak efficiency.
Hydronic (or radiant) heating systems, meanwhile, are being designed to follow the lead of hot-water recirculation with closed-loop schemes that require less make-up water and heating energy to perform effectively.
Meanwhile, next-gen water meters installed by an increasing number of utilities to help manage resources are able to detect leaks (which can account for an average of 14% of a home’s water consumption) and provide real-time water usage and other account data online, allowing homeowners to gain some control of their consumption and alter their lifestyle habits to conserve more.
“Empowerment is the future of water conservation,” says Kathy Nguyen, senior project manager for the Cobb County Water System, which serves the Atlanta area. Financial incentives, such as rebates, fines, and incremental pricing structures, she says, “will only get you so far.”