Even though there has been a decrease in household water usage over the past few years, the cost to provide water infrastructure is still trending upwards. By reducing our usage by even 50 litres per day per person, we can delay or completely avoid the need for expensive new dams and desalination plants. So it’s worth doing! Here are some simple ways to save water at home.
In the bathroom
When it comes to saving water at home, a good place to start is in the bathroom. In terms of taps and the shower, you should try to:
- Cut your showering time down to four minutes or less. Showers can use anything from six to 45 litres of water a minute. If everyone in the family does this, you could reduce your water usage by up to 20%.
- Install a water-saving showerhead. Standard showerheads can use up to 25 litres of water a minute. By switching to an energy efficient showerhead you can cut your hot water usage by up to 40%.
- Install an on/off switch to turn the shower off when you’re shampooing, soaping up or shaving. Shaving your legs in the shower, in particular, can add about four minutes to your shower and use up to 36 litres.
- Save the cold water in a bucket while you’re waiting for the shower water to warm up. You can then use it for things like laundry soaking or in the garden.
- Install water-efficient taps (known as aerators). These give the feel of a high flow rate but use only half the water.
- Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. Leaving the water running wastes at least 5 litres per minute – that’s around 11,000 litres per person per year!
In the toilet
If you’re looking for water saving strategies, you might be surprised to know that your toilet is also an area of the house worth thinking about. Water saving tips include:
- Checking your toilet for leaks. Simply put some food colouring in the tank and if the colour begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes without flushing, then you’ve got a leak that needs fixing ASAP.
- Placing a cistern-displacement device in the tank. These can reduce the amount of water used per flush.
- Installing a modern 6/3L (or 4.5/3L) dual-flush cistern and pan if you’re renovating. The average water consumption of modern toilets can’t exceed 5.5 litres per flush so they make it much easier to save water.
In the kitchen
From your taps to your dishwasher, the kitchen is another area where you can save significant amounts of water. Water saving tips include:
- Fixing pesky leaks as early as possible. A hot tap leaking at a drop per second can waste over 6000 litres of water every year!
- Not leaving the tap running when you’re hand-washing dishes. Start rinsing items while the sink is still filling up.
- Filling one basin up with soapy water for washing and the other with rinsing water. If you only have one basin, put your washed dishes on a rack and rinse them with a pan full of hot water or a spray device.
- Not rinsing plates under the tap if you have a dishwasher. Most dishwashers these days will adequately clean dishes on a ‘normal’ cycle as long as you scrape food scraps off first.
- Using the ’fast’ or ‘economy’ cycle if you feel you need to pre-rinse, particularly if you don’t use your dishwasher every day.
- Loading up your dishwasher and only running it when it’s full.
- Buying a new dishwasher that’s both energy and water efficient.
In the laundry
In terms of ways to save water at home when it comes to the laundry, look at how you’re using both your washing machine and your dryer. Tips include:
- Washing your clothes in cold water – 90% of your washing machine’s electricity use actually goes into heating water. Cold water can also help your clothes last longer by minimising fading and shrinking.
- Re-using your washing machine water as grey water for the garden etc. However, stick to the rinse water only as detergents in the wash water generally aren’t plant-friendly!
- Buying a new washing machine that’s a front loader rather than a top loader. It may be more expensive initially but they typically use a lot less water.
- Avoiding buying a combined washer/dryer. They use a lot of water in the drying process due to their condenser technology. Instead of turning the water that’s in the clothes into damp, hot air (like conventional dryers), they condense the steam back to water and it all goes down the drain!
Outside the house
Of course you need to be mindful of watering plants and using sprinklers when considering water saving strategies, however, one of the biggest water-wasters outside the home is actually car washing. Here’s how to do it efficiently:
- Clean your car on the lawn if you have one or wash on the driveway and direct the waste to the lawn with barriers.
- Try and limit your water usage to only two buckets – the average bucket-and-sponge-washer uses over 10 buckets per wash!
- If you’re washing with a hose, invest in a trigger nozzle to reduce your water use. You’ll then be using around 100 litres of water compared to up to 500 litres per wash.
- Use a low-flow, high-pressure car cleaner if you can as you’ll only be using around 23 litres of water. Plus the job will be even faster because the force of the spray will remove dirt as you’re cleaning as well.
- Consider installing a rain harvesting system. These can collect most of the rain that falls onto the areas of the roof connected to gutters and downpipes and direct it back into your tank. As an example, if 10mm of rain falls onto your 100m2 roof, you can harvest up to 800 litres of water!