Cutting water wastage doesn’t just help the environment – it slashes your energy bills, too. Here are seven easy ways to make big savings
As a nation, we certainly experience our fair share of rain, but our reservoirs and rivers aren’t immune to global warming’s effects.
England could face water shortages by 2050, the UK Environment Agency has predicted – and like any precious resource, it will also become more expensive.
It’s worrying, then, that research by Waterwise – an environmental NGO – reveals that 85% of Britons don’t know how much water they use. All of that flushing, showering and laundry can really add up: both for the environment, and your bank balance. And even if your house doesn’t have a water meter, excess usage will still increase your energy bills.
But with a few simple tricks, you can stop pouring water – and money – down the drain. Here are some ideas to get started...
1. Don’t multi-task in the shower
Do you shave in the shower, or brush your teeth? It might feel like you’re being more efficient with your time, but several litres of water are flowing down the drain every minute – not to mention the energy it took to heat it.
The shorter the shower, the better. To keep tabs on the time, set an alarm on your phone or buy a waterproof suction-cup ‘shower timer’. And if the flow takes a while to heat up, pop a bucket under the showerhead to catch the cold water: you can use it to water plants, to soak the washing up, or even to flush the loo.
2. Lather up in less water
For as little as £20, a water-efficient shower head could save you up to £91 per year. That’s according to the Energy Saving Trust, who found that a four-person household could reduce their water meter bill by £53 annually, plus a further £38 per year on energy – simply by installing a shower head with regulated flow.
To check if you need one, place a two-litre container in the shower and see how long it takes to fill up. If it’s less than two minutes, you could be making some savings. Most power showers tend to have an ‘eco’ setting, too.
Of course a quick, water-efficient shower is much better than a bath – but if you must use the tub, make it a treat. Read a book or listen to a podcast, and use biodegradable bubbles so that you can use some of the water in the garden afterwards. And if the bath is big enough for two, maybe invite your partner in too!
3. Flush responsibly
How old is your toilet? A modern, low-flow loo can use as little as 7.2 litres of water per flush – but older cisterns can need 22-30 litres. According to the Water Footprint Calculator, the average person flushes five times every day, so it’s little wonder that toilets can be the biggest water-guzzlers in the home.
Here’s a free way to make your loo more water-efficient: fill a plastic bottle with water, screw the cap on tightly, and put it in the cistern. It will reduce the volume of water in the cistern, and therefore the amount needed to clear the toilet. Also, don’t use your loo as a bin: if you want to dispose of a Kleenex, for example, don’t just flush it away.
4. Get your tools out
A single leaky tap can waste over 5,300 litres of water every year (according to the Energy Saving Trust), so change the washers as soon as a tap starts to drip – and replace any faulty fittings.
To check your toilet for leaks, pop a few drops of food colouring into the cistern; if it spreads into the bowl without flushing, there’s a flaw that needs addressing. It’s not necessarily a big job, so consider following a loo-repair tutorial on YouTube (look for one with good reviews) – but calling a plumber can help prevent further damage, and fix any other potential problems too.
5. Save up your laundry
When you do a laundry load, is the washing machine always full? If the drum isn’t at maximum capacity, you may be wasting water – and running up bigger energy bills, too. According to Friends of the Earth, one full washing machine load uses less water and energy than two half-loads, so saving up your laundry can save you money too.
The same goes for dishwashers, so squeeze in as much as you can – and if you must pre-wash, it’s better to soak the crockery in a washing up bowl, rather than keeping the tap running. Of course, washing up the ‘old fashioned’ way (in one bowl) is best; and if you use a biodegradable soap, you can even water the garden with the suds afterwards.
6. Savour the rain
According to Water UK, the average UK roof is showered with 85,000 litres of rain every year – so if you don’t have a water butt, you’re missing out on huge savings. As well as using this fresh, free water in the garden, you can wash the car or clean the patio (instead of turning on the hose, which can pump out 1,000 litres of water per hour).
By swapping a garden sprinkler for a watering can, Friends of the Earth estimates that we can cut water usage by up to 33% – but if you’ve got lots of plants to cover, a trigger-head hose helps to keep wastage to a minimum.
7. Make it fun
Rather than seeing water-saving as a chore, turn it into a game – with rewards for low-usage months. Even if you don’t have a water meter, you’ll soon learn what works. Then, the habits will stick – and you can look forward to lower bills, a cleaner conscience, and a more energy-efficient home.
Do more with Boundless
As a member of Boundless, you can make year-round savings on everything from home insurance to holidays, food to fashion. To find out how to join, visit our dedicated membership page.
Photos: Getty Images