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Saving water

Water use can represent a significant part of your monthly bills. The average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water a day and over a quarter of this is hot water for showers and baths. Add to this the energy it takes to heat water for washing-up, doing the laundry and cleaning the house and you get an idea of how much water and water heating contribute to your energy bills.

Reducing your hot water use with aerated taps and showerheads

According to Waterwise (www.waterwise.org.uk) domestic water heating is responsible for 10-25% of a typical household’s energy bills and 5% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions. So by reducing the demand for hot water in your home you will reduce the amount of energy used for heating it and therefore lower your energy bill.

New water-efficient showerheads and taps can help you do this. They work by introducing a flow of air into the water stream which reduces the volume of water which is passing through, but not the pressure. Therefore the flow of water feels far greater than it actually is. They typically cut the flow of water by about half, and can save as much as £50 per year on your fuel bills.

If you don’t want to replace your taps and shower heads you can still fit an aerating device to your existing ones. Tap aerators cost less than £5 each and aerated shower heads about £15. Be aware that aerating devices are unlikely to be compatible with electric showers. Your water supplier may provide these free of charge. Go to savewatersavemoney.co.uk and enter your postcode to find out if your water company participates in this scheme.

Other ways to save on the cost of water heating

  • Take a shower instead of a bath; this can save around 40% of the water that you use, shorter showers will save even more. You can use a 4-minute ‘egg timer’ that can be stuck to the bathroom tiles to keep track of how long you’ve been in the shower.
  • Make sure that washing machines and dishwashers are full before you switch them on. It is much more cost-effective to do a full wash once every two days, than a half-full wash every day. If the appliance has an economy setting this will use less water and less electricity as well.
  • Only boil as much water as needed in the kettle.
  • Insulate your hot water cylinder if you have one, and make sure it is set to the correct temperature.
  • Wash clothes at 30 degrees wherever possible, most detergents work perfectly well at this temperature.

Cutting your water consumption

Cutting your water consumption is particularly important if you pay for your water using a meter. A water meter reflects your actual usage and your bills will therefore be lower if you use less water.

Most water suppliers in the UK offer a free water saving kit which may contain water saving tap inserts, cistern water saving bags and shower timers. The website savewatersavemoney.co.uk distributes these free packs. Just click on the link and enter your postcode to find out what your water company offers.


In the bathroom

Around 70% of our domestic water use is in the bathroom. Water can be saved through a combination of a few simple changes in behaviour and through installing water saving devices.

  • Check that your toilet cistern is working properly.
  • Fix any dripping taps. Taps can drip around 90 litres of water every week, or 4,680 litres a year! 
  • A running tap uses more than six litres of water a minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face.
  • Old single-flush toilets use nine litres a flush. Dual flush toilets average 5 litres. If you don’t have a dual flush toilet consider installing a water saving bag (sometimes called a 'hippo'). These reduce the amount of water used in each flush.

In the kitchen

Most of the water we use in the kitchen is for food preparation and washing up.

  • Wash up in a bowl, not the sink.
  • Wash fruit and veg in a bowl instead of under a running tap.
  • Only use your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full.

Thinking of a new washing machine or dishwasher? While all new appliances use much less water (and energy) than old ones, some are better than others, so check the small print to find the most efficient model.


In the garden

Water use in the garden increases in the spring and summer, which is also when water is scarcest. The main 'culprit' is the hosepipe which can use up to 540 litres in an hour - that’s more than most families use in a day!

So, if you want to save water in the garden, here are some tips:

  • Fit a water butt to collect rain water. Many plants prefer rainwater to tap water, and some water companies can provide waterbutts quite cheaply, from around £20.
  • Use a watering can instead of a hose.
  • Watering your plants in the morning or evening and using mulch around them will reduce evaporation.
  • Get a water-saving trigger for your hosepipe. These save a lot of water, and some water companies give them away for free!
  • When washing your car use a bucket and a sponge. And again, if you do use a hose, fit a water saving trigger.
 
 

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