12 easy ways to help save water at home
Having clean running water in our homes is something we take for granted in the UK. But how much thought do you give to whether you’re wasting water, and could be a bit more efficient with it?
Making an effort to save water in the home will not only save money if you’re on a water meter (and also through reducing energy bills, in some instances), but is greener – and could help prevent predicted water shortages in the near future.
“There are many reasons why it’s important to save water, but along with climate change and population growth, we’re using more and more water in our daily lives,” says Stephanie Hurry, head of water efficiency and customer participation at Waterwise (waterwise.org.uk), the UK’s independent authority on water efficiency. “And if we continue to do so with no change, there will come a point where we’ll experience severe water shortages.
“We’ve already started to see the impact on rivers. This really highlights the importance around the need to save water and protect this precious resource for generations to come.
“Collectively, small actions can really make a substantial difference – and if every household in the UK took the time to have a shorter shower, turn the tap off and reduce their consumption, we could save millions of litres to help ensure there’s enough water for the future and the environment too,” she stresses.
Wondering how you could help save water – and possibly money – at home? Waterwise and Friends of the Earth suggest these 12 steps…
1. Take a short shower instead of a bath
Take a shorter shower instead of a deep bath (a four-minute shower uses around 48 litres of water, and a deep bath can use 70-80 litres). Friends of the Earth says every minute you spend in a power shower uses up to 17 litres of water, so they suggest householders set a timer on their phones to keep showers short and water-saving. Plus, hot water uses energy, so by having fewer baths and shorter showers, you’ll also save money on energy bills as well as the water bill if you’re on a meter.
2. Get a low-flush toilet
The average UK household flushes the toilet 5,000 times per year. FoE explains that modern dual-flush systems save huge amounts of water, using just six litres – or four with a reduced flush – much less than the 13 litres for each old-style single flush. If you can’t invest in a new toilet, get a cistern displacement device (CDD), which is placed in the toilet cistern to displace around one litre of water every time it’s flushed. CDDs are available free from most water companies, and Waterwise says they are ‘super-easy to install, and can achieve savings of up to 5,000 litres per year’.
3. Turn the tap off
Don’t let the tap run when you’re brushing your teeth. Friends of the Earth says this saves six litres of water a minute. Also, use a washing-up bowl or a plugged sink, instead of leaving the tap running, if you’re washing veg etc.
4. Buy water-efficient products
Look for efficient products, such as aerated taps and shower heads. Waterwise says an efficient shower head could reduce household bills by up to £120 per year.
5. Boil sensibly
Only fill the kettle with what you need. As well as saving water, this also saves energy and money.
6. Catch water
Installing water butts saves up to 5,000 litres of water a year, says Friends of the Earth, and you can use the collected water to water your plants. You can also cut water use by 33% by watering plants manually, instead of using automatic sprinklers.
7. Fix leaks
Mend any leaking taps or toilets. This can stop 60 litres of water going down the drain every week, Friends of the Earth points out. Waterwise highlights that leaking toilets waste an average of 200-400 litres of water a day.
8. Fill machines
Ensure you fully fill washing machines and dishwashers before doing a wash, and use the eco setting if available. Washing a full machine load of clothes uses less water and energy than two half-loads. Believe it or not, if you fill up the dishwasher completely each time you run it, you’ll also use less water than you would doing the washing up manually – even if you use a washing-up bowl.
9. Reduce food waste
It takes a great deal of water to produce cereal, fruit and other food – yet more than seven million tonnes of food and drink are binned by UK households every year, and Friends of the Earth says more than half of it could be eaten. So try to reduce food waste – this could save you around £480 a year too, they point out.
10. Eat less meat
Rearing animals for meat and dairy is incredibly water-intensive. By cutting down on the amount of meat you eat, you can reduce your water footprint drastically
11. Steam food
Cut water use by steaming veg and other foods, and the food will also retain more nutrients. If you do boil, use the cooled water later to water your plants.
12. Water plants wisely
Water outdoor plants in the early morning or at the end of the day, to stop water immediately evaporating in sunlight and heat. Also, water the soil so that the liquid goes straight to the roots where it’s needed.
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