Green Steve Goes Blue To Save Water In The Home
I have to admit that I have water on the brain right now after receiving a rather extortionate bill through the post from Thames Water. I live alone but for reasons unbeknown to me, Thames Water want to charge me over £750 a year for water and wastewater. This got me thinking about my usage and I have asked my landlord if I might get a water meter installed so that I can monitor how much I use. Ideally this would save me a lot of money too.
All this comes a week after seven water companies announced that they would be introducing hosepipe bans from April 5 because of extremely dry winters over the past 2 years which have left reservoir levels at dangerously low levels.
Customers may well be angry at this ban given that these seven companies lose around 300 million gallons of water every single day through leaks and I myself do feel a bit aggrieved but rather than taking a ‘them and me’ approach, I want people to start taking some responsibility for their own water use. After all, the average person in the UK uses 150 litres per day which is some 25 litres higher than our European neighbours in countries such as Holland, Austria and Germany. With this in mind, DEFRA have targeted a reduction in this average from 150 to 130 litres per person per day by 2030.
Calculating Your Water Usage
If you live in a metered property then you probably know your exact water usage but if, like me, you do not have a meter then the best you can do is get an estimate using the Energy Saving Trust’s water energy calculator.
My household usage according to this tool is around 48,000 litres per year which puts me below the national average but I would expect that because I don’t have a garden to water or a car to wash and I only ever shower rather than taking a bath.
This calculator also informed me that if I had a meter installed that my bill could be as low as £244 per year which represents a saving of roughly two-thirds…I hope my landlord agrees to me getting a meter!
Saving Water Little By Little
When it comes to using less water in our daily lives, we should first look to small changes that we can make which, when combined, add up to significant savings.
Don’t Flush So Much Away
The main culprit for water use is the humble toilet. These vital bits of plumbing can be responsible for 30% of a household’s usage but there are ways to cut this down considerably. If you want to replace your toilet, buy one which has a dual flush system or one which scores very well on the Water Efficient Product Label. If you want to reduce water usage while keeping your current loo, use a cistern displacement device (CDD) which basically prevents so much water from entering the cistern thus reducing the amount being flushed away. Compared to an old 13 litre cistern, a more modern toilet could save up to 7 litres per flush while a CDD could save 3-4 litres per flush.
Aerating – It’s Not All Hot Air
You might have seen them for sale and thought it’s a load of baloney but taps and showers that aerate the water as it flows can massively reduce your usage while still providing the same experience.
Aeration basically mixes air with the water to produce larger droplets that kind of explode on impact and I can tell you now that they make for fantastic showers. Not all showers can accommodate a showerhead that aerates so check before buying one – the alternative is a reduced flow showerhead which will also help you use less water.
As many as 5 litres of water per minute could be saved from going down the plughole just by changing your showerhead.
Taps can also be fitted with aerators which are useful if you find yourself washing hands or rinsing vegetables often.
Fill Up Your Washers
Whether using the washing machine or dishwasher, you should only start a cycle once you have enough to fill up all the space. Washing machines are particularly heavy in their use of water so washing while only half full is pretty bad for your overall household figure.
While the most efficient dishwashers are capable of producing shimmering plates from just 10 litres of water, this is not the norm and again it only makes a difference if you are filling it up before turning it on. You should also avoid pre-rinsing anything as it is unnecessary with modern dishwashers and detergents.
I Like Big Butts
I don’t mean to start blog karaoke but big butts are something everyone should get – at least everyone with a garden. I am of course talking water butts, and if you’ve ever been tempted to use a hosepipe then there are many savings to be had by collecting rainwater from your roof and using a watering can instead. Every year, your roof collects thousands of litres of free water and it’s just waiting for you to store and use it.
Whilst we are on the subject of gardens, don’t worry if your lawn goes a bit brown in summer – this is natural and it will recover as soon as it rains. Why not also opt for some plants that are better suited to dry conditions such as those to be found here.
Looking Into The Future Of Water
After watching the final episode of Channel 4′s Home of the Future recently I saw a very novel way of reducing the amount of water you flush down the loo – a waterless urinal. Depending on how many men and how much space in your home, a urinal that requires no flushing water and prevents any nasty smells can be yours for a very reasonable price. I’d recommend reading up on how they work here so you can decide whether one is right for your home.
Another thing that they did for the family on the show was to install a rainwater harvesting system underground (like a giant water butt) which would provide enough water for almost all of their toilet flushing needs. You can find out more about the system used by visiting the manufacturer’s website.
Sticking with toilets for a little while longer, we have another option to reduce total water usage and that is the AQUS system. This takes water from the bathroom sink and pumps it into the cistern after quickly cleaning it. In this way, the water used when washing your hands or cleaning your teeth can subsequently be used to flush the toilet.
Free Water Saving Devices
Water companies are obliged to provide water saving devices either for free or at a massive discount to help their customers cut usage and you can try contacting your supplier to find out what you might be able to get.
Alternatively, visit this page which has links directly to the water saving product pages of all the main suppliers such as Thames Water and Seven Trent. From cistern displacement devices such as the Hippo to free aerating taps and showerheads, you can get a great deal of free help in your water saving efforts.
While I only wanted to focus on what I thought were the main areas of water saving, further tips can be found here.
So, with drought heading our way, are you going to become more conscious about the amount of water you use? Leave a comment and let me know.
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