Conserve water and save cash
10:00am Monday 11th February 2013
After so much snow, excess water is a problem, if anything, but it probably won’t be long before we’re being told to save water because of a drought.
If your home has a water meter, conserving water should always be something you’re conscious of because it saves you money, and there are many ways to do it around the home.
Around 25 per cent of all the clean, drinkable water we use at home is flushed down the loo, but you can save a lot by only flushing when there’s something solid to flush away.
If this doesn’t appeal, you can at least restrict the amount of water used for each flush by fitting a water-saving loo, such as a dual-flush one, which has a big and a little flush.
You can also put something (a brick, or a plastic bag designed for the job – some water companies provide these free of charge) in the cistern so it doesn’t use as much water to flush.
But it’s not just loos that drink water – baths do, too. Taking a shower uses around two-thirds less water than taking a bath, providing you’re only in the shower for a few minutes and it’s a conventional (not a power) shower – some power showers use more water than a bath.
You’ll save even more water by fitting a flow-restricting (non-aerating) or aerating shower head. These use less water per minute, but shouldn’t leave you showering in a dribble, although how well they’ll work will depend on the water flow of the shower.
If you have a dripping tap, get it fixed as quickly as possible, as it will waste thousands of litres of water over the course of a year. Often the tap simply needs a new washer, which isn’t hard to fit. You can also fit flow restrictors to taps, or water-efficient or aerating taps to reduce the amount of water coming out of them.
And next time you turn on a tap, consider whether you really need to. A running tap uses up to six litres of water per minute, so turning it off when brushing your teeth will save a lot of water, as will putting a little water in the washing-up bowl or bathroom basin when doing things such as scrubbing vegetables or washing your face.
Any water left in the washing-up bowl can be used on the garden. You can also reuse bath water in the same way – if taking it outside in bowls isn’t too much hassle.
An easier (but much more expensive) option is a grey-water recycling system, which typically takes waste water from the bath, shower and basin and then uses it for the loo, outside tap and (sometimes) washing machine.
In the garden, rainwater can be collected in a water butt by connecting it to a downpipe, which is a fairly simple DIY job. This makes watering the garden easier, especially when there’s a hosepipe ban.
A more elaborate version of this is a rainwater harvesting system, which comprises a tank that collects rain from the guttering and pumps it to where it’s needed – again usually for the loo, outside tap and washing machine.
More than half of the mains water we use at home can be replaced by rainwater in this way, which is a big saving.