FAQs

Q & A, Libby Levi for opensourceway

  1. How much water does the average person use in a day? How much could this be cut if water saving flushes, taps and showerheads were specified as standard?
  2. How much is wasted through people brushing teeth, washing hands, showering, leaking taps, etc.?
  3. Where does the most household water wastage occur?
  4. Is our critical water situation down to less rainfall or the fact that we now use more water in the household. Or is it a combination of the two? 
  5. What is the problem with traditional taps, flushes and showerheads? How do they waste water?
  6. Do water saving showerheads detract from the showering experience? 
  7. How many litres of water a day can be saved by an average family with a dual flush toilet?
  8. Is tap water bad to drink?
  9. Are water-saving products more expensive than conventional taps?
  10. How easy is it to retrofit water saving devices?



 

1. How much water does the average person use in a day? How much could this be cut if water saving flushes, taps and showerheads were specified as standard?

150 litres per person per day. It could be cut by about a third

 

2. How much is wasted through people brushing teeth, washing hands, showering, leaking taps, etc.?

Teeth – if you leave the tap running it wastes 6 litres per minute, so turning the tap off when brushing can save around 12-18 litres per time

Washing hands – very little water is wasted here but if you put in the plug instead of washing under running water it could save around 3 litres per wash

Showering - this depends on how long the shower is, and what type of shower head is being used

Leaking taps - Waste at least 5,500 litres of water a year;: that's enough water wasted to fill a paddling pool every week for the whole summer. Mending your dripping tap washer could save you over £18 a year.

 

3. Where does the most household water wastage occur?

There is no one area, it requires a lot of smaller actions to be effective. The toilet is one of the biggest components of household use and flushing a used tissue or cotton bud can waste about 7 litres per time.

 

4. Is our critical water situation down to less rainfall or the fact that we now use more water in the household. Or is it a combination of the two? 

It is due to increased demand (we are all using more per person than 10 years ago and on average it has grown by 1% a year since 1930, but has flattened a bit in the past 5 years – probably due to Waterwise J), increased population and changes in rainfall patterns, which means an increase in intensity of rainfall which makes it difficult to store.

 

5. What is the problem with traditional taps, flushes and showerheads? How do they waste water?

Generally the flow rates on taps are a lot higher with the older versions, the same is true for older toilets, a Victorian toilet will flush with 13 litres whereas some of the new ones will flush at 4 litres, new showerheads use various technologies to reduce water consumption – aerated showers combine water and air and regulated showers place an upper limit on flow rates

Water saving devices can cut consumption by around 25% with some products cutting consumption by 50%.


6. Do water saving showerheads detract from the showering experience? 

Generally no, however showering is a very personal experience and people like different types of showers. Aearated and colliding showers produce a softer type of shower, which many people prefer, but some do not.

 

7. How many litres of water a day can be saved by an average family with a dual flush toilet?

Depends on what they had before. But if they had an average 7 litre toilet and swapped it for a 4/2.5 dual flush then the saving can be roughly 80 litres per day.

 

8. Is tap water bad to drink?

No. In fact, UK tap water is amongst the best in the world. It's relatively cheap too - it costs about £1 per cubic meter. Also, bottled water generally undergoes fewer quality tests that tap water and frequently comes from exactly the same source as tap water but its not treated.

one litre of bottled water can take up to 5 litres of water to produce it

And bottled water has other negative effects too: bottled water is often in plastic containers which leaks PETs into the water and can have bacterial build up if exposed to variations in temperature; bottled water is heavy and shipping has a high environmental cost; the plastic has an environmental impact when made and when disposed of. In fact, one litre of bottled water can take up to 5 litres of water to produce it and cost 2000 times the cost of tap water!

9. Are water-saving products more expensive than conventional taps? 

No, in general there is no price difference between efficient and inefficient devices. If you are replacing them anyway and you choose efficient devices the payback starts immediately. If you retrofit your taps and toilets and showers the cost can be very low as cistern devices are free from local water companies, tap inserts only cost a couple of pounds at most, and shower devices can be obtained for free over the internet funded by CERT.

10. How easy is it to retrofit water saving devices?

Cistern devices and shower heads and devices can be fitted in less than a couple of minutes by anyone, tap inserts are more difficult. But generally if you can change a lightbulb you can change a showerhead!