Water is one of our most precious resources and everybody needs access to clean fresh water to stay healthy. We don’t only need water to drink; we use it for washing clothes and dishes, bathing, in industry and agriculture. Water shortages are projected to be a likely problem in the future, so what can we do to become more savvy about the water we use and reduce unnecessary wastage of this valuable commodity?
The main parts of our home where we use water are kitchens and bathrooms, whilst the garden can be another drain on our fresh water supply. There are many things we can do however, which with very little effort and sometimes a small investment, that can save huge amounts of water.
Washers on taps that are old and damaged can result in leaking or dripping taps. Aside from being an annoyance and leaving limescale marks on sinks and baths, over the course of a year, 5,500 litres can be wasted. Replacing a washer needn’t be expensive either – it’s a simple enough job that most people can complete by themselves without need to call out a plumber.
We know you’re not likely to leave taps running when you leave a room, but in between jobs like washing vegetables, brushing your teeth or washing your hair, if you turn off the tap or shower head, you’ll save a considerable amount of water. Most taps emit 6 litres of water per minute, giving 12-18 litres of water going down the drain each time you brush your teeth. That could be nearly 150 litres for a family of 4 every day.
If your bathroom is in need of updating, choosing a low flush toilet can considerably reduce your water consumption. Old Victoria style toilets use as much as 13 litres of water, while many average toilets are around 7 litres per flush. Dual flush toilets cut consumption even more, however, using 2.5 litres for a low flush and 4 litres for a full flush.
If you prefer not to update your bathroom, you can use a water brick or insert a cut off plastic bottle into your cistern to reduce the amount of water which fills up and is used for flushing.
Cotton buds, nappies and wet wipes should never be flushed down the toilet anyway, as these can cause blockages and give you problems with your household drainage. Used tissues popped into a bin rather than flushed down the toilet however can save between 2.5 and 7 litres of water depending on the type of toilet you have.
Using water in the garden is unavoidable, especially if you grow your own vegetables or flowers. The amount you rely on mains water supplies to water your plants, however, is within your control. Water butts are brilliant for collecting rain water for re-use in the garden. They come in a range of designs so you can choose a standard green butt or opt for something with a more modern design. Water can be collected from your downspout, making use of all your property’s roof space, or connected up to garden sheds, green houses or conservatories.
Garden hoses are often the first thing to be restricted when water companies become concerned about water levels. That’s partly due to their wasteful nature. If you have a water butt, filling a watering can and delivering water direct to the plants that need it without unnecessary spills.
Grey water harvesting systems work in a similar way to a water butt, except they collect and store grey water from your home and use it to flush toilets or for use in the garden – jobs which don’t require fresh drinkable water. Grey water is household water that can be reused, such as bath or shower water and water from washing machines. This can be a very effective way of reducing water usage, and if you have a family home with a water meter, collecting grey water in a storage tank for reuse in your home can be a good investment to cut your water bills too.