Water

Did you know that the UK has less water per person than most other European countries and that, London is drier than Istanbul? Also the whole of the South East region of the UK has less water available than Sudan and Syria? source: Waterwise

 

                          

On average, an American uses 600 litres of water per day, a European, 250, and an African, 30. The average UK citizen uses 150 litres of water a day - 30% (45 litres) of that is used to flush the toilet! Water usage might not be your highest  carbon footprint but there are clearly sustainability issues to take into consideration.

Tips to reduce your water use

There are simple measures you can take to reduce your water footprint.

Reduce your garden water footprint

If you have a garden you can fit a trigger gun on your hose. A hosepipe can spout up to 18 litres of water a minute. Fit a trigger gun or replace it altogether with a watering can will reduce the amount significantly. Also grow your grass a bit longer. It will stay greener than a close mown lawn and need less watering.   A sprinkler can use as much 1000 litres of water per hour – more than a typical family uses in 4 days!  Limit use to early morning of late evening to reduce evaporation.                                                                                                            

Use a water butt to collect rainwater from a butt.  The water’s free and can be used on your garden, houseplants or for washing the car.

How to reduce your hot water footprint

If you don’t have a condensing boiler yet, insulate your hot water tank with a jacket 80mm thick. It costs just a few pounds and with savings of around £35 a year it’ll pay for itself in a few months. Fitting a timer so your hot water only comes on when you need it could save you kilos in carbon dioxide a year.  

Don’t overheat your water. It only needs to be around 60oC, any higher and you’re wasting energy and money.

Although it requires more substantial investment, installing a solar powered hot water system could significantly reduce heating costs and pay for itself in the medium term. 

Burst water pipes can cause serious damage as well as waste water. Ensure your water pipes and external taps are lagged in time for the cold winter months.

Taking a shower is better than a bath 

If you take shower instead of bath you are already lowering your water footprint, but there are still actions you can take to reduce the footprint even more. If you take long showers, cut them down by a few minutes.   

Fitting a shower timer will help you keep an eye on your time spent scrubbing. Avoid power showers as they can use more water than a bath in 5 minutes. Fit a flow restrictor to the shower and restrict flow to six litres a minute for optimum flow and water saving

How often do you boil the kettle per day?

The average household boils the kettle 4 times a day.  Boil the minimum amount of water required to save energy and water. If everyone boiled only the water they needed to make a cup of tea instead of filling the kettle every time, we could save enough electricity in a year to power the UK’s street lights for 7 months.

Your toilet matters

Replacing a toilet cistern can save water. Modern ones use less water and can save 45% on energy compared to an old one. Why use 9litres of high quality drinking water to flush 500ml or less urine?  Remember the motto:  “if it’s yellow let it mellow.  If it’s brown flush it down”!                                                             

Don’t use your toilet as a bin, throwing cotton wool, sanitary products and other waste in the bin, not the toilet will reduce the amount of water wasted with every flush.

If your toilet is pre 2001, consider installing a cistern displacement device such as a ‘Save a flush’ bag or a Hippo. These are available for free from most water companies, are easy to install and once placed in the toilet cistern displace approximately one litre of water with every flush. 

Other useful tips to reduce your water footprint in your home 

  • Vegetables and fruit should be washed in a bowl rather than under a running tap and the leftover water can be used for watering house plants.
  • Try not to leave the tap running while you brush your teeth, shave or wash your hands, as this can waste up to 9 to 5 litres of water per minute. Rinse out from a tumbler instead.
  • Use the water from cleaning a fish tank to water your houseplants. It's rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, which provides an excellent fertiliser. 
  • Every time you boil vegetables or eggs save the cooled water for your houseplants. They'll benefit from the nutrients released into the water.
  • Dripping taps can waste up to 5500litres of water a year, costing £12. Replace worn tap washers for a quick and cheap way of saving water.
  • Ask your water supplier to fit your home with a water meter.  As you are only charged for the water you use it encourages you to use less so you could save water and money.