Water efficiency in the home

With the average British summer delivering rainfall from Wimbledon to the opening games of the football season, you could be forgiven for thinking that water efficiency is not something that you need to think of. But as more of us are switched to metered water supplies the incentives for saving water are as much financial as they are environmental. Whether you are a climate change skeptic or a full-on Green Party follower you will appreciate the change in your pocket or bank account at the end of the month if you can find ways to reduce your water consumption.

Perhaps the most wasteful use of water in our homes happens in the bathroom, most notably when we flush the toilet. The easiest way to save water here is simply to not flush every time you use your toilet. This does take some getting used to, from stopping the Pavlovian flush response to ignoring your spouse or children’s prior visits, but you can save up to nine litres of water for every flush you use. In money terms, this is almost 2p for every visit. Spending a penny now costs more than a penny, even at home.

grey bathroom

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For those who aren’t comfortable with following the old hippie environmentalist message, ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’, your best option is to change the flush on your toilet to one that offers the option of a small or large flush, or even switch to a cistern that offers only a low flush. The change will take a while to pay for itself but it does make sense if you have an older cistern or are thinking of updating your bathroom anyway. Of course, the old trick of placing a brick in the cistern means that you will use less water too but a new cistern will be far more efficient.

Washing your hands can be made more water efficient by fixing low-flow aerators into the taps. These mix air with water, reducing the flow needed to quickly wash your hands. This simple fix could save you a penny every time you wash your hands and brush your teeth. This is a job that you can do yourself but you can also get a handyman to do it for you.

shower room

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We all know that having a shower instead of a bath will save a good deal of water, but you can also save water in the shower by changing your shower head for a more water efficient model. Another simple way to save water here is to put a bowl or bucket in the bath as you wait for the water to warm up. The water can then be used to water your garden or for other purposes around the house. You may also find that having your boiler serviced or hot water pipes insulated will help to reduce the time between you running water and it reaching the temperature you want.

Elsewhere in your home, make sure that when replacing appliances you buy those that use less water. Most retailers will have details on their websites about the energy and water efficiency of appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines, or you can simply ask in-store. Using these figures along with your water bill, will allow you to calculate the best deal for you, as saving money on an appliance may mean that you spend more on water bills. Some dishwashers can use double the amount of water of their rival brands, with each cycle costing between 2p and 4p in water costs.

kitchen chalkboard

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While you are looking around for ways to save money on water, do check that all your taps are working efficiently and don’t drip. A plumber will be able to mend or replace any taps quickly and the water saved will pay for any work done in the long term.

Finally, don’t forget to hydrate as drinking water is important and not an area where you want to scrimp and save. But if you do leave a glass on the bedside table overnight then do be sure to tip it into your houseplants and not down the sink.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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