We have had a meter fitted recently, so are now upping our thinking on how to reduce the amount of water we use in the home, without a) it costing us lots and b) compromising our comfort (too much).
It seems odd to think about conserving water when it has been raining so much – my little boy asked if a hole in the road dug by workmen was a swimming pool this morning! Well, he had a point, it was full of water.
However, water is actually a very valuable resource and one we take for granted. All of the water that comes out of taps in the UK is of drinkable quality. Where places say it is not, that is usually because of pipes (old lead ones – nasty lead poisoning if you drink from those). Water from rivers, lakes or underground sources needs to be ‘cleaned’ to a set standard. You may not agree with all of the processes (especially some of the chemicals added), but the water we have to drink is a lot better than the water in the river (mountain rivers in Scotland/Lakes/North Wales and Ireland excepted). This cleaning takes a lot of energy and of course, money!
So, back to water saving tips!
No Cost Water Saving
a) Just Another Brick in the Loo! – older loos will flush as much as 9L a time, newer ones about 7L. This is about 1/4 of the water we use in the home each year!!! Fill up a used 2L milk bottle with water, add lid and place in loo. Check the loo works for all that is required of it!! (note – loos are for poops, wee and loo-paper and nothing else. If you put other stuff in there, it will probably block!). If flushing is not getting rid of things, then empty a bit of water out, replace the bottle and when the time comes, try again!
b) Stop That Drip! – a dripping tap can waste litres of water over time, which equates to money. So, if your tap drips (or dribbles), fix it!
when brushing teeth (ideally fill a glass first and use just that water),
when washing face/hands (or put some in the sink),
when doing the washing up (fill up a bowl and start with the cleanest stuff first, the work your way to the dirtier stuff – add a bit of the water to really dirty pans so they soak before washing).
d) Do Full Loads – for the washing machine and dishwasher. 1 full load uses less water than 2 half loads (and less energy). It makes sense!
e) Boil a Cuppa – only put as much water as you need in the kettle to boil. If you need a lot of cuppa’s to get you through the day, consider a thermos (saving energy more than water!).
f) Shorter Showers and Shallower Baths – have to admit, this is a hard one for me. However, you can get gadgets to go onto the shower to aerate the water so you use less, but it still feels powerful. A timer can remind you when it is time to get out of the shower too. If you like a bath – can the water be used for anything else? In summer, perhaps think about siphoning it down to a storage tank to be used on the garden. Other times – do you have any laundry that needs a soak before washing? It is usually the nappies in our house.
g) Car-Wash – leave the hose-pipe rolled up when washing the car. Using a bucket and sponge is one way and if you want to go the Full Monty (ie totally waterless) then our fabulous Waterless Wash & Wax is brilliant (though it will cost a little bit).
h) Ban the Hose Pipe/Sprinkler – These are incredibly water-wasteful. Use a watering can or collect rain water and use that. Also water in the early morning or evening so you lose less water to evaporation.
Spending to Save
Collect Rain Water – garden water-butts are not that expensive and can save you loads of money over the years if you are on a water meter. Contact your water company too – they may have some deals on. These are also great if you have water-crazy kids like mine! Instead of leaving the mains tap on and playing with water, they can just use rainwater. Then all you have to do is ensure they play with the water near the plants you need watering without damaging the plants!
Rain-Water for everything – with the right filters and suitable sized tanks it should be possible to collect and use rainwater for just about everything! When I lived in Thailand, we did this and just let the first couple of rainstorms of the rainy season rinse the roof of all the debris, before collecting in the tanks that are used for drinking/washing up etc. Drinking water was boiled first and tasted great. Never had any tummy bugs either. Showering in rain water is bliss – it feels sooooooo much better than tap water.
Grey Water Recycling – if you are really keen you could install a grey-water recycling system in your home. You put in a tank and all your lightly dirty water goes in it (eg shower, bath, sinks). This is then used for flushing toilets and in the garden. No idea of the cost though!