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Water in the Home

Water is not as abundant as you would think.

Learn how to reduce climate change with our hints tips and advice on water consumption, water efficiency, water suppliers and energy efficient appliances.

Dry winters have the single biggest impact on our water resources. Rain during the winter months tops up ground water supplies while summer rain only helps reduce water consumption for instance by saving us having to water our gardens. Saving water helps by making sure that the water we do get lasts, particularly as it is impossible to predict how long a dry spell will continue.

Water shortages don′t just affect us: they can have a serious impact on our environment. The water that we consume comes from rivers and groundwater so every drop we use has a direct effect on the environment. Fish, wetland birds and other wildlife that rely on rivers, streams and ponds cannot survive if these dry up. Sources of food and breeding sites for wildlife can be lost and fish can die through lack of oxygen.

The average person uses 150 litres of water every day. Much of this is accounted for by washing and toilet flushing, but it also includes drinking, cooking, car washing and watering the garden. We use nearly 50% more water than 25 years ago, partly because of the increased use of water using household appliances.

It′s vital that everyone uses water wisely and not just during a dry spell or if we live in an area with water restrictions. We must use water efficiently to make sure that we have enough water and at the same time protect our valuable natural environment, now and for future generations.

Installing a low-flush or dual-flush toilet

Toilet flushing accounts for about a third of household water usage: you probably flush away as much water in a day as you drink in a whole month. What you can do:

  • when buying a new toilet get a water-saving low-flush or dual flush toilet - the more efficient flush settings on these use around a third less water
  • if you are not going to get a new toilet then installing a water displacement device in your cistern will reduce the amount of water used for each flush typically by one or two litres (displacement devices are available from local water companies)
  • variable flush devices can also be fitted to existing toilets, giving you a choice of flushes and saving water - these are known as retrofitting flushing devices and are available from local water companies

Switch to showers

A five-minute shower can use about a third as much water as a bath. But power showers can use more water than a bath in less than five minutes.

  • fitting a water-efficient shower head can reduce the amount of water you use by a further 30 per cent (these should not be fitted to electric showers as this can lead to overheating of the water)
  • avoid power showers - you′ll probably end up using more water than if you had a bath

Use water-efficient appliances

The amount of water consumed by dishwashers and washing machines varies considerably.

New dishwashers and washing machines have an energy labelwhich will tell you how much water they use per wash, as well as how energy efficient they are. Things to consider:

Upgrade your plumbing

Things you can do:

  • fix drips - a dripping tap or overflow can waste a lot of water (just 2 drips a second adds up to about 26 litres of water a day), but a new washer costs a tiny amount and can be fitted in minutes
  • fitting aerator or spray ends to washbasin taps can reduce water consumption by up to 50 per cent - an aerator mixes air with water
  • putting lagging on your outside pipes will help to avoid burst pipes and leaks in winter

Save water in the garden

There are many ways of saving water in the garden, for example:

  • using a watering can rather than a hose will make a huge difference to the amount of water you get through in your garden
  • consider buying a water butt to collect rain water for the garden - using rain water saves mains water and the energy used to treat it

Avoid pouring water straight down the drain

Ways to avoid this:

  • the cold water that comes through before a tap runs hot can be collected for watering plants
  • keep a jug of water in the fridge instead of waiting for the tap to run cold
  • turning off the taps when you are brushing your teeth or shaving can save up to five litres a minute