Do you want to reduce water waste and your energy bills at the same time as protecting the environment? We give you some top tips to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle at home.
Water is a commodity that we all need to survive and one that developed nations take for granted. Therefore, we must find ways to reduce water waste to make it more accessible to those that need it and reduce the impact on the environment.
In the UK, we use on average 150 litres of water per person every day. Think about all the ways we use it around the home – drinking, washing, cleaning, feeding plants. We definitely shouldn’t stop do those things. However, we should all be conscious of just how much we’re using and question whether any is going to waste.
Wasting water impacts the environment in many ways, including damaging the natural ecosystem when we take too much from it.
Reducing water waste will not only help conserve our energy but, if you’re on a water meter, it will reduce your costs too. Investing in a smart water meter is a great way to know exactly how much you’re using, where you can make cuts, and what it’s costing you. Most water companies in the UK will install one for free if you ask.
We’ve done some research and come up with five practical tips to help you reduce water waste.
1. Turn off the tap
The average 10-minute shower uses around 150 litres of water, compared to about 80 litres for a full bath. Also, the longer your shower, the more carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from the additional energy needed to heat your water tank (which also costs more).
Here are some practical tips you can follow to save water from being unnecessarily wasted down the drain and reduce CO2 emissions.
- Take shorter showers (turning the shower off a few minutes earlier than usual can save around 24 litres of water)
- Don’t leave the shower running (you could turn it off while shaving your legs)
- Install a water-saving showerhead or aerator to reduce the pressure or flow
- Don’t overfill your bath
Don’t forget to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth as this is another great way to reduce water waste. Keeping the tap running for two minutes can waste around 12 litres of water. That’s equivalent to almost 100 litres of water a day for a family of four who brushes morning and night.
Bonus tip: Did you know that showers are better than baths for those without skin conditions? Too much water can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to irritation. Use a moisturiser to replenish your skin within 30 minutes of having a shower or bath.
2. Use washing machine and dishwasher for full loads
A typical run on a washing machine uses 50 litres of water and is likely the most expensive energy-consuming device you’ll be using at home.
Perhaps question whether you need to put that item you’ve just worn in the laundry basket or whether it can go back in the wardrobe for another day. Is it dirty? Can it be worn again? I often use the fingernail test on my children’s school uniform. If I can scrape off minor marks, it goes back in the school bag!
Over-washing clothing will reduce the lifespan of those items. Therefore, not washing your clothes as often should also save you money if you don’t need to replace them so soon. And buying fewer clothes is another way to protect the environment.
The same applies when washing the dishes. Unless you have a full load of pots and pans to wash, it’s more efficient to either wash up by hand or wait until you have a full load.
If your washing machine or dishwasher has one, use an economy or half-load setting to reduce water waste.
Bonus tip: Washing your clothes inside out at low temperature using a natural laundry detergent will keep them looking new for longer. They clean just as well but won’t fade as fast.
3. Don’t overfill the kettle
Most people in the UK boil more water in their kettles than they use, wasting millions of pounds a year. As a nation of tea drinkers, that’s a lot of water and electricity gone to waste.
Using an energy-saving kettle will help as it should have a guide to show the amount of water needed for the number of cups. Even better, if you can afford it, invest in a boiling water tap, which uses heat-exchange technology to reuse energy. This is ideal for businesses that need to cater to lots of tea drinkers all day as a significant amount of money would be saved on energy bills very quickly.
Bonus tip: Boiling the same water twice can give you a lower quality cup of tea. Reboiling removes the oxygen and nitrogen from water and gives a stronger flavour of undesirable minerals that don’t taste very nice.
4. Reduce toilet flushing
There’s a saying that goes ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down’.
Flushing the toilet as many times as the average person does every day uses around the same amount of water as you would drink in a month. A lot!
Most modern toilets have a dual flush option so don’t use the full flush unless you need to for number twos. This can save around 66% of water compared to single-flush toilets.
For single-flush toilets, you can fit a plastic bottle or flush bag in your cistern, which collects water from each flush that can be used for the next flush. This can save around 1,500 litres of water a year on average.
Bonus tip: If you do decide to ‘let it mellow if it’s yellow’, make sure you flush at least once a day. Otherwise, the bacteria will create a foul odour and stain your toilet.
5. Install a water butt in your garden
Use a water butt to collect rainwater and you’ll save huge amounts of water and money compared to using a hosepipe. Waterwise.com states that the average UK home receives over 21,000 litres of rainwater on its roof. So, more than enough to clean your car and water your garden all year round.
Go one step further and fit a water butt to your bathroom waste pipe to catch all that water from the bath and shower.
Bonus tip: Plants tend to prefer rainwater than tap water. This is because rainwater contains plant-loving nitrates and other organic chemicals. Whilst tap water won’t harm plants, it is more acidic due to the chemicals added during the filtration and refining process.
If you’re serious about cutting back on water waste, use a monitoring tool such as the Home Energy Check (for those in Scotland) to work out how much you’re using now and how much you could save after making changes. The Energy Saving Trust is also a useful resource to find out more about how you can save water at home.
Can you think of any other ways to reduce water waste?
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