As more homes are fitted with water meters it is going to be more important to be able to reduce your water usage without sacrificing your quality of life. It is possible to reduce your water usage and save money, sometimes without having to spend any money.
All of the water coming into your home has been treated to drinking water quality although only half of the water we use needs to be of clean drinking quality. We only actually consume about 4% of the water as drinking water, the rest is used for cleaning, washing and watering the garden.
Find out how much water is used by the average UK family.
How to reduce the amount of water used to flush the toilet.
Water saving shower heads to save you money.
Look for the Waterwise recommended checkmark.
Below is a typical UK household water usage breakdown, your own water usage may vary but this will give you an idea of the big water wasters in your home.
It's not difficult to cut down the amount of water that you use if you know where it is being wasted. As you can see about 30% of water is used for flushing the loo so if you can cut this down you can make quite significant savings.
As the toilet is probably the biggest water user in your home this should be the first place to start saving water and therefore money. There are a few no cost solutions leading all the way up to long term water reuse systems.
The cheapest option of all is to not flush the toilet every time you visit. This may sound a bit crude and may put off a lot of people but the fact is that when urine leaves the body it is sterile. If you are just doing a wee you don't have to flush the toilet every time, try every other visit. If you tend to visit the little quite often then you can flush less frequently. The key is to not leave it for too long and over time the ammonia smell will build up. For every other reason for your visit then do flush. This can save a lot of water if you don't mind doing this.
You can add a hippo to your cistern, this is just a plastic container filled with water. A brick or small heavy object that doesn't float will also do the same job. The idea is that when the cistern fills after a flush it fills with less water. More modern cisterns can be adjusted to change the fill level.
A dual flush system gives you two levels of flushing, one uses less water than the other. The idea that the lower water use flush is used for when you do a wee as not as much water is needed to flush it down. The other flush remains that same as your standard flush which is used for as your normal flush. A dual flush can usually be fitted to your existing toilet.
Modern toilets are available that are able to provide the same flush performance with less water. Manufacturers have come up with various different designs such as double cyclone flushing, similar to how Dyson vacuum cleaners work. If you are renovating a bathroom or installing in a new build then it is worth installing a more water efficient toilet.
A more serious water saving system which we may be seeing more of in the UK are micro grey water recycling systems. Recycling water means reusing water rather than it going directly to the drains. A micro grey system typically stores the water from your shower or bath, the impurities are removed and the cleaner water stored ready for when you flush the toilet.
A grey water recycling system such as the Ecoplay do require a relatively large investment so are best integrated with a rebuild or new build. Water usage can however be reduced by up to 30%. Again as it is a large investment it is better to first consider the cheaper and no cost options first.
Warning - reducing the amount of water that flushes the toilet can lead to blockages as water does not flush all waste into sewer. The amount of water needed to effectively flush your toilet should not be reduced below the effective level.
Showering uses less water than a bath but only if you take a short shower, generally anything over 5 minutes and you might as well run the bath. It's even worse if you use a power shower as this uses even more water.
You can measure the amount of water your shower uses with a watch and measuring container. Switch on the shower to the setting and speed you usually have a shower at. When you start the stopwatch put the container under the showerhead until it fills to the 1 litre mark, make a note of the time taken to fill the container in seconds.
The amount of water your shower uses per minute can vary from as little as 6 litres a minute for a water saving showerhead to 15 litres per minute or more for a power shower.
The average power shower costs about £918 per year to run in water and electricity costs.
A flow restrictor simply reduces the amount of water coming out of the shower head. You can get replacement shower heads with built in flow restrictors or a separate device (free from some water companies) that can be added to the shower hose to reduce the water flow. These are only usually useful if you have a shower that already uses lots of water.
Rather than just reducing the amount of water going through the shower an aerator adds air to the water. By aerating the water it uses less water and gives you the champagne feel of a power shower. Whilst it may feel like a great shower some people have reported that they have to stay in the shower longer to remove shampoo from their hair. If you have a lot of hair or use a lot of foamy shampoo or shower gel then an aerating shower head may not be for you.
A pulsing showerhead uses a different system, rather than adding air it pulses the water. The pulsing action is said to produce water droplets similar to a rain shower. The resulting effect is that you need less water to wash off the soapy bubbles and shampoo. It works by pulsing the water inside the head of the shower to build up the pressure, the water is then released in pulses at 30 to 40 times a second.
Waterwise is a water efficiency labelling scheme in the UK, products carrying this badge are shown to save water. A product carrying the WaterWise Recommended Checkmark will have been tested on their water use and water saving abilities. Products are labelled on a rating of A to G similar to energy efficiency labelling. This is a voluntary scheme so products may well be water wise but have not applied for their checkmark.
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