Water is the one utility we are most likely to take for granted. Whilst we seem to be thoroughly conscious of ways of reducing consumption of gas, electricity or the telephone, little thought seems to be given to saving water – and the money you are spending on your water bill.
Perhaps it is because we use so much of it that water unlimited supplies of water are practically taken for granted. The Waterwise Project, for instance, points out that simply flushing the UK’s 45 million or so domestic toilets each day consumes an estimated 2 billion litres of water – and accounts for 30% of each household’s water consumption.
For all that, there are still a number of ways you may save money on your water bill.
You are paying for the water you use in your home by one of two ways:
the more traditional is by way of a fixed annual charge, the amount of which is based on the home you occupy, and is called rateable billing – Your bill is based on the rateable value of your home and rateable values have not changed since 1990;
- alternatively, you might have a water meter (installed free of charge by your water company), so that you only pay for what you use.
A water meter means that your water consumption is constantly monitored, and that alone might mean that you use less water. So you may want to consider switching from rateable billing to a water meter.
To make a proper comparison between leaving things as they are, on rateable billing, or switching to a metered supply, you may need to use one of the many online calculators – such as that provided by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).
Although a calculator gives a much better idea, the CCW suggests a rule of thumb that if your home has more bedrooms than the number of people living in it, it is probably worth switching to a water meter.
Monitoring your water consumption is one thing, actually saving it may be another. Even in a rain-blessed country such as the UK, water is a scarce resource and reason enough to look to saving your use of it – quite apart from the financial savings you may make.
So, here are a few suggestions about ways you might use less water:
In the bathroom
- mention has already been made about the vast amount of water consumed by simply flushing the toilet;
- so-called dual flush toilets allow you to choose the volume of water needed for any one flush and may reduce that consumption to just 4 to 6 litres instead of the normal 13 litres;
- consider a Hippo – this is a device that saves you 3 litres of water per flush;
- instead of throwing them in the toilet pan to be flushed away, just put cotton wool balls or make up tissues in the waste bin;
- avoid the temptation to just leave the tap running whilst you brush your teeth – this consumes and wastes about 6 litres of water every minute;
- showers are not only more water efficient than baths (they may save up to a third of the water used in a normal-depth bath), but you are also able to make savings on your hot water heating bill too;
- aerated showerheads, low-flow showerheads and even shower-timers may all help you to use less water – yet still do the job of keeping yourself bathed and refreshed;
Don’t forget the garden
- if you do choose to have a bath, remember that the spent bathwater may be used on your garden;
- a water butt can be a great investment and are typically very easy to install;
In the kitchen
- between 8% and 14% of your water consumption comes from the kitchen tap and the dishwasher;
- so, if you are using a dishwasher, there is no need to pre-rinse the plates – the machine is easily capable of dealing with dirty plates;
- naturally, a full load is more economical than a part-load, so the capacity of your dishwasher might be an important consideration when buying it;
- by using an economy or low-water setting on your dishwater for lighter loads also reduces your water consumption;
The kitchen tap
- water flows through your kitchen tap at between 2 and 25 litres a minute (depending on your plumbing;
- simply by using the plug or a washing up bowl beneath the tap is reckoned to cut water wastage by up to 50%;
- Britain is blessed with a water supply that may be drunk straight from your kitchen tap – and this is one blessing that does not need to be sacrificed;
- avoid the wait – and wastage – of running the tap until the water runs cold, though, by keeping a bottle or jug of refreshingly cold water in the fridge;
- fill your kettle with only enough water you actually need – saving not only water, but the energy taken to heat it;
In the laundry
- washing clothes is estimated to consume about 15% of the water you use;
- the most efficient washing machines use less than 7.5 litres per kilogram of dry clothes – so keep to that and you save water and electricity;
- the fuller the load, the more efficient the washing cycle, so try to avoid washing only a few items at a time.
By monitoring and by exercising care in the amount of water you use, you may be doing the environment a favour – not to mention your bank balance.