Save Water

“Water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental integrity and the alleviation of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human health and well-being”

United Nations

Water Saving Facts

  • Average per capita consumption is 140 litres per person per day in England
  • In Scotland, domestic water use accounts for 892 Ml/d or 150 litres per person per day
  • Average water use in Northern Ireland is 145 litres per person per day
  • One cotton t-shirt has about 25 baths full of water embedded in it
  • Human Blood is 83% water
  • Over 90% of the world’s supply of fresh water is located in Antarctica

Why Save Water?

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Save Money

Saving water saves money. Installing simple devices such as water-efficient taps and showers will save both water and energy by minimising the use of heated water. An efficient shower head could reduce household bills by up to £120 per year. Such large financial savings can be particularly vital for households facing water and/or energy poverty.

Climate Change

Our use of water and energy are closely linked. Operational emissions from the water industry account for nearly 1% of the UK’s total. A major source of emissions is from using hot water within homes. Reducing the time you shower or the amount of hot water you use for cleaning dishes therefore has a significant impact on your personal carbon footprint.

The Environment

Half of England’s rivers are over-abstracted. This puts aquatic ecosystems and wildlife at threat. Using water efficiently means that we can minimise the amount of additional water resources being taking out of our rivers and aquifers, especially as demands are rising.

Securing Water Supplies

As water resources become scarcer, building new infrastructure for augmenting supply becomes increasingly expensive. If we save water that is otherwise wasted, we can offset the need for new infrastructures and reduce pressure on existing ones. Additionally, efficient water use makes our supply more resilient against impacts from climate change, such as droughts.

How to Save Water At Home

Check out our infographics on saving water

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Taps and Leaks

Brushing your teeth:

  • Remember to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth – a running tap wastes approximately 6 litres per minute.

Leak detection and repair:

Leaky loos are one of the most common causes of unexpected high water use for consumers in the UK. When a toilet is leaking, water dribbles away down the back of the pan, which means a leaky loo often goes unnoticed. A leaking toilet most commonly refers to clean water running from the cistern into the pan.

  • To detect a slow leak add a few drops of food colouring to your toilet cistern
  • Don’t flush it for around an hour
  • If the food colouring is present after an hour, you have a leak.
  • It’s easy to fix though! You could find a recommended plumber to call or if you fancy a bit of DIY take the parts to the hardware store and ask the staff to help replace them
  • Remember to check again for a leak once fixed.

Toilets

There are around 45 million toilets in UK homes – this equates to flushing an estimated 2 billion litres of water every day! About 30% of total water used in the household is through toilet flushing.

Purchase a water efficient toilet:

  • Dual flush toilets have a split flush button which gives the user the choice of how much water to use.
  • Dual flush toilets typically use 4-6 litres of water opposed to the old style flush systems which use a massive 13 litres per flush.

Cistern Displacement Device (CDD):

  • A CDD is placed in the cistern to displace around 1 litre of water every time you flush. They are super easy to install.
  • Installing a CDD can achieve savings of up to 5000 litres per year.
  • They are available for FREE from most water companies.

Rubbish

  • Try to avoid flushing away cotton ball or make up tissues, simply throwing them in a bin will cut down on the amount of water wasted with every flush.

Showers

Showers have become increasingly popular, in the 1970s less than 20% of homes had a shower, today ownership is at 85%. By being water efficient in the shower doesn’t only save you money on your water bill, it will have a positive effect on your energy bill too because of the heating of water associated with showering.

Switch showerhead:

  • Aerated showerheads reduce the flow but don’t compromise on pressure. They maintain the pressure by mixing in air with water to produce a steady, even spray.
  • Low flow showerheads reduce the amount of water used, whilst still giving you the feel of a normal shower.

Shower duration:

  • The average time spent in the shower varies considerably, but the general trend showers longer showers are on the rise.
  • To help keep track of time try using a shower timer, they help to keep shower times reduced. If everyone used a shower timer we would save enough water to supply 1 million homes every day.

Baths

A bath typically uses around 80 litres, while a short shower can use as little as a third of that amount. But beware since many power-showers may actually use more than a bath.

Shallower baths:

  • By running your bath by just an inch shorter than usual you can save on average 5 litres of water.

Reuse bath water

  • You can minimise your water use by reusing your bathwater to water your houseplants or garden.

How to Save Water > In the Kitchen

The dishes

The kitchen tap and dishwasher account for 8 – 14% of water used in the home.

Dishwashers:

  • Try and use a full load every time. This can be helped by ensuring you buy a dishwasher with a capacity suitable for your household size.
  • Experiment with different settings on your dishwasher, many modern machines offer ‘Eco’ or ‘Economy’ setting which use less water and energy. These can even be more efficient than hand washing.
  • Avoid pre-rinsing dishes, detergents are highly effective, so all you need to do is simply scrape and place. Easy.

The sink:

  • Taps can vary in flow volume, from 2 – 25 litres per minute. People’s behaviours also vary, whether you fully twist the tap to how long you leave it on for can all have an impact.
  • Try adding a washing up bowl or plug into your sink to catch excess. This can reduce water wastage by 50% and be used to wash your veg in.
  • Adding a tap aerator can help to reduce the flow, similar to the shower.

Laundry

Clothes washing:

  • Clothes washing now accounts for 15% of water we use in our homes.
  • When buying a washing machine, check the label or specifications for water use, the best models will typically use less than 7.5 litres per kg.
  • Remember to read the manual to find out which cycles are the most water efficient.
  • Surveys show that a typical load of washing is usually much less than the maximum capacity of the model, stuff in a few extra shirts to make the most of your loads!

Baths

Drinking water

  • This is one area you should NOT cut back your useage, UK tap water is one of the best in the world. Enjoy it.
  • Fridge it, putting a large bottle of tap water in the fridge will ensure you can have chilled water all the time. Waiting for the tap to run cold can waste more than 10L of tap water a day.
  • Plants love to have a drink of any leftover water in glasses.
  • Try to fill the kettle with only what is needed, this will save water and energy.
  • Using the lid on saucepans reduces the amount of water lost, so you don’t have to put as much in. It also helps your lovely veg cook quicker.

How to Save Water > In the Garden

Grass

  • It’s ok for the lawn to go brown, it helps it to build up resistance and recover immediately after rainfall.
  • Sprinklers can use as much as 1000 litres per hour! This is more than a family of four use in a whole day. If you have to use a sprinkler, try to use it in the early morning/ late afternoon, this is when evaporation rates are lowest.

Garden Equipment

  • Pressure washers should be used sparingly. Look out for water efficient models that are available.
  • Hosepipes: by attaching a trigger nozzle on your hosepipe will halve the amount of water used and help direct the flow to the root of your plants.
  • Watering cans can significantly reduce the amount of water used whilst getting the desired amount to your plants.
  • Water butts are a brilliant method to catch large amount of rainwater that falls each year – it’s free water. Have a look at the Waterwise guide to waterbutts.

Plants

  • Lots of people use bathwater on their gardens, this is brilliant. Please remember this is dirty water and should be used immediately, and never on fruit/ veg or near children.
  • Use mulch and bark in your garden, it will help to reduce evaporation by up to 75%.
  • Think about mixing some drought resistant bedding and perennial plants to your garden to add a bit of diversity.

The Benefits of Saving Water at Work

In addition to helping reduce costs, decreasing water consumption can help your business comply with current and future environmental legislation, reduce its carbon footprint, improve your company’s environmental performance and generate positive PR.

Water fittings in commercial multi-occupancy buildings often experience more frequent use than in dwellings, which means that payback times following investment can be excellent. Investment in water recycling schemes is also more viable in business settings than domestic settings.

In commercial situations, major cost savings can be gained through installation of:

  • urinal controls or waterless urinals
  • efficient flush toilets
  • automatic or sensor taps

In addition to cost-savings from decreased water and energy bills, businesses investing in technologies and products that encourage sustainable water use may be eligible for tax savings through Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA). The ECA website details the scheme and the Water Technology List.

For businesses in England and Scotland you should look for water efficiency services when choosing your water retail company. In Wales, you should contact Welsh Water about what services they can provide to help you save water, energy and money.

How to Save Water > For Businesses

Work

There are many benefits to reducing water consumption in the workplace, it can help with more than just cost. It can help your business to comply with current and future environmental legislation, reduce its carbon footprint, improve your company’s environmental performance and generate positive PR.

Education

  • Educate your employees on the importance and practices of water efficiency.
  • Try and set water usage targets and encourage widespread involvement to achieve this!

Site Maintenance

  • Know where your supply pipes run and where the shut off valves are.
  • Check your meters at night or when no water is being used to monitor leakage.
  • Make sure your pipes are protected against cold weather as leakage can increase after a burst pipe due to frost.
  • Install water efficient devices in bathrooms such as waterless urinals or automatic taps.
  • Your water supplier may offer water audits to see how efficient your business’s water usage is. Some may even offer a personalised water management package to get the best water efficiency plan for your business. Contact your water company for more details.

Bathrooms

  • Install water efficient devices in bathrooms and canteens such as controlled or waterless urinals and automatic or spray taps
  • Look at our list of Water Saving Devices to fit into your office where applicable.

Kitchens/ Canteens

  • Use water efficient settings on all kitchen appliances
  • Installing automatic taps or spray taps can help make a big difference to consumption levels

Water recycling

  • Determine where your wasted water is going and if or how you can recycle it in other areas of your business
  • Where possible use a water butt to harvest rainwater for use in your business

How to Save Water > In Schools

Many water companies have education centres or teams that conduct water saving assemblies for schools or run a water audit that identifies where and how much water can be saved. Such programmes are often free or heavily subsidised, and their impact can be substantial: Up to 3.13m3 of water per day can be saved on average per school, as a study by Waterwise found.

Resources – The Water Calculator

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The Water Calculator is a simple tool that is particularly useful for when building new properties. It can be used to provide information on water consumption for hundreds of products, saving you the hassle of gathering data from several product manufacturers. You can access it here.

The Water Label

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Bathroom manufacturers across the globe are aiding governments in their quest to reduce water consumption by producing new, exciting, innovative and technologically advanced bathroom products that deliver the bathing experience which consumers can enjoy.

The European Water Label scheme provides easy access to a database of bathroom products when installed and used correctly will use less water, save energy and save money. Find out more here.

More From Your Water Company

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Take a look at your water company website for extra tips and advice and to check if your water company is one of the many that now offer free water-saving devices. You can find out who your water company is and their website from Ofwat here.