A significant amount of water is unnecessarily wasted in homes across Australia each year, which is alarming given that water is one of our planet’s most valuable resources. Conserving water helps reduce the need to build dams, decreases the production of wastewater, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. However, how do you go about reducing water consumption at home? Here are seven hassle-free water saving tips that will help.
Tip #1 – Showers
An inefficient showerhead can use between 15 litres and 25 litres of water every minute, whereas a star rated showerhead (see the section below for information about star ratings) uses only 6 or 7 litres of water a minute. Switching to an energy-saving showerhead not only saves water, it can also save a two-person household at least $160 a year on their household energy and water bills!
The star rating label on your showerhead will provide information about the water flow rate, and depending on the model you choose, you can also get additional options like massage and self-cleaning features.
Tip #2 – Toilets
The way you flush can have an large impact on the amount of water used by your toilet, and some water saving hints include using a half-flush button when appropriate, or getting your plumber to adjust the flush volume if your household only has a single flush toilet.
Leaky toilets are also a no no. A slow, non-visible leak can waste more than 4,000 litres of water a year and a constant, visible leak more than 96,000 litres! An easy way to check if your toilet is leaking is to place a few drops of food colouring into the system and refrain from flushing. If colour appears in the bowl within 15 minutes, you’ve got a leak and it’s time to call a plumber.
Replacing your toilet with a star rated number can also save a heap of water. There are a number of options available including 4-star water-efficient dual flush models, 5-star models that reuse water from your hand basin, and even waterless toilets!
Tip #3 – Taps
Did you know a tap leaking at the rate of one drip per second wastes more than 12,000 litres of water a year? However, there are a number of simple steps you can take to ensure your taps aren’t using more water than necessary. Ensure leaks are fixed immediately, don’t over-tighten caps (it can wear out washers and cause leaks), and install a flow regulator on your existing bathroom and kitchen taps.
Installing a mixer tap in your shower can also help you be water wise, as it can save large quantities of water being wasted while you’re waiting for the water to get to a comfortable temperature. You should also make sure all your taps adhere to the star ratings, and choose a 4 or 5-star rating for bathroom basins and a 3 or 4-star rating for the kitchen sink.
Tip #4 – Washing Machines
Improving the efficiency of water use in your laundry can be done by only washing full loads of laundry, adjusting the water level on your machine, and using the economy cycle if you have one. Cold washes save more energy, and again, try to use a water efficient washing machine that has a high star rating. This can save 50 litres or more with every load and it uses less detergent!
Tip #5 – Dishwashers
You can save water when using your dishwasher by avoiding rinsing, fully loading the dishwasher before you use it, and again, making sure your dishwasher is star rated. The most economical dishwashers can actually use less water than many people would use washing their dishes by hand. If you do wash your dishes by hand, make sure you always use a plug in the sink rather than letting the tap run continuously.
Tip #6 – Outdoor Water Use
If you’re wondering how to save water outdoors, start with thinking about how you water your garden. Water early in the morning as this allows water to penetrate before it evaporates and also allows plants to use the water throughout the day. Less frequent soakings will train plant roots to grow down into the soil and increase their drought tolerance, and make sure you water the roots not the leaves – water on the leaves evaporates easily and can lead to scorching.
Think about your garden design – paved areas increase heat radiation and water runoff, and hosing down paths and driveways wastes a lot of water – sweep them instead. Mulch plants often and group them in terms of their water usage to enable you to water them more efficiently. Mulching around plants saves water by preventing evaporation and minimising run-off. Plant trees to create shade and windbreaks and reduce your lawn area if you can. Lawns consume up to 90% of our outdoor water use, so replacing lawn areas with pebbles or porous paving can help save water.
Where possible use alternative water sources like rainwater or greywater, wash cars at car washes that recycle water, and if you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor pool, think about investing in a swimming pool cover. These can significantly reduce evaporation and save between 11,000 and 30,000 litres of water a year!
Tip #7 – Use the WELS Product Rating System
One of the best water saving tips for your home is to take advantage of the national Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme, which gives consumers information about the water efficiency of various products. The scheme is based on a star rating, products are labelled according to their water efficiency, and it currently covers toilets, taps, showers, washing machines and dishwashers.
The WELS Product Rating System labels show water efficiency (the more blue stars, the greater the water efficiency), water consumption figures, and the average water flow per minute for taps and showers. Rebates are also available on some products, so check with your local council or water utility provider.
Like some more advice on how to save water in your home? Contact Yarrow Plumbing today on (07) 3277 5742.