Water-saving tips and devices

Though our Earth is made up of 2/3 water, only 1/100 of that water is drinkable so we all need to ensure we don't waste this precious resource. Here are some great water-saving devices and tips.

Why we need to save water

Water is an incredibly precious and limited resource but because we can turn on a tap for a seemingly never-ending stream of water, many of us have forgotten this. I learnt not to take water for granted whilst on holiday at a remote cottage in Scotland and during a long, dry spell the burn which provided the house with its only source of water turned into a trickle and we had to carefully restrict our use. With areas of England moving into drought situations in recent years, we all need to be careful not to waste water. As the effects of changing weather patterns and climate change are experienced it will become even more important to reduce our use of water. I was surprised to read on the Environment Agency's website that the average person in England and Wales uses 150 litres of water a day. By 2020 the demand for water could increase by 800 million extra litres of water a day.

How to save water

Use rainwater

Collect rainwater in a water butt and use it for watering both household and garden plants as they prefer it to tap water. If you want a more ornate and decorative water butt then Best Eco Shop have a range which includes a beehive style, oakwood effect and antique ones as well as more contemporary and colourful designs. Rainwater can also be used to wash the car. Washing your car with a bucket uses less water than using a hose and in a drought just keep headlights, mirrors and windows clean for safety reasons.

Don't let water go down the drain

  • Whilst running the tap or shower and waiting for the water to get hot collect the water and use it to water plants or use it to flush the toilet.
  • Keep a bottle or jug of water in the fridge so you always have cold drinking water and don't have to run the tap.
  • Reuse bath water for house plants, in the garden or to flush the toilet. You can collect it using a watering can, or buy a water siphon pump to siphon bath water from the bath to the garden. (Burgon & Ball Bath water Siphon is also available from Amazon.)
  • Wash fruit and vegetables in a washing-up bowl of water instead of under a running tap.
  • Save water and energy by only boiling the quantity of water you actually need in saucepans and kettles. You could also buy an eco kettle.
  • Don't leave the tap running while you brush your teeth, shave or wash your hands. This can waste up to six litres of water per minute.
  • Install a tap aerator which can reduce water usage by up to 60%.
  •  “Half-load” programmes on your washing machine or dishwasher use more than half the water and energy of a full load so wait until you have a full load.
  • Shower instead of having a bath. Showers use about nine litres of water per minute. A five minute shower uses about a third of the water of a bath. But remember that power showers can use more water than a bath in less than five minutes. Turn off the shower whilst shampooing and washing yourself.

Think before you flush

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.

It seems so wrong that we use quality drinking water to flush our toilets when but there are ways you can reduce the waste:

  • install a water saving bag (‘save-a-flush' or ‘hippo') in the cistern of a higher flush toilet – this reduces the water used with each flush. Most water companies provide these free to their customers.
  • If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down – selective flushing is something everyone can do to help save water. Don't flush the toilet after every time you wee. We've done this at home for years and our guests are happy to do it too. To prevent smells I keep a spray bottle of water with a few drops of lavender and tea tree oil next to the toilet and spray that round the bowl after every few visits. We've also just started using an Ecozone Toilet Smell Killer which is a chemical-free odour eliminator and we're very impressed so far.
  • Don't use your toilet as a bin as this wastes water and is bad for the environment too. Next time you're on a beach have a look at how many pieces of rubbish have come from the sewage system. I frequently find cotton bud sticks (which look like plastic lollipop sticks) and plastic applicators from tampons. Throw cotton wool, sanitary products and other waste in the bin. And if you've just used some toilet paper to blow your nose then put that in the bin too. Bag it, don't bin it! See my post What can you flush down the toilet?

Water saving tips in the garden

Don't waste water on your lawn – brown lawns are cool

The Turfgrass Growers Association says watering established lawns is wasteful and unnecessary in most circumstances. Chief executive Tim Mudge said, “Our message to homeowners is not to worry if your lawn goes brown during the summer. Going brown is the natural survival mechanism of grass. When water is in short supply grass responds by shutting down.”

Grass is remarkably resilient and once it rains it will recover. Save yourself a job and instead of frequently mowing the lawn let your grass grow as this provides shade for the soil and helps retain water.

The TGA’s top advice for the summer is to: 

  • Increase your mowing height to 35-40mm – this creates deeper roots and more shade and shelter from high temperatures.
  • Keep mower blades sharp. Blunt blades bruise the leaf causing the plant to lose more water.
  • Try not to concentrate wear in one place – move barbecues and toys such as slides around.
  • There is no need to feed your grass as it won’t be growing during hot weather.
  • Avoid blanket weedkillers as they may damage the grass. Use a spot weedkiller if necessary.
  • Apply a light dressing of compost to help keep moisture in the soil and protect the grass from high temperatures.
  • Scarify your lawn once a year to remove matted and dead growth. If it is allowed to build up, it acts as a barrier to rainfall.

Join the discussion

What do you do to save water?

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