Did you know, if we continue wasting as much water as we do now in the UK, we could start running out by 2040? Every little helps, so we’ve put together 32 ways to help save water at home – in the bathroom, kitchen and garden. We’ll even go into a few more details about why saving water is so vital for your household finances and our survival as a species.
Why save water?
1. Save money
Water is the forgotten utility – we assume that because we can’t switch supplier, we can’t save money. However, some Brits have slashed £100s off their bills by fitting water meters and being mindful of how much water they use each day. All it takes is knowing some simple ways to save and changing your habits, one at a time.
Experts claim the average person could reduce their daily water use from about 140 litres to 100 litres, which is a reduction of about a third. If you’d like to cut your water bill, keep reading to find out more about helpful devices, like water-efficient taps and showers.
2. Our changing climate
Water will become our most scarce resource in the UK if we continue using it like we do. Our climate is getting hotter and drier and our national population is due to increase from 67 million to 75 million by 2050. The United Nations (UN) says water is the primary way we will all begin to feel the effects of climate change.
Experts warn that:
“By 2050, the amount of water available to us in the UK could be reduced by 10-15%, with some rivers seeing 50%-80% less water during the summer months.” – Sir James Bevan, the UK’s Environmental Agency
Hotter summers and drier winters could lead to droughts more extreme than the record drought and heatwave experienced in the UK and continental Europe in 2003, which affected the UK’s agricultural output.
Many conservation groups say this can be avoided with ambitious action. This includes…
- Cutting people’s water use by a third
- Reducing leaks from water company pipes by 50%
- Building big new reservoirs and more desalination plants
3. Reduce your carbon footprint too
Did you know the water industry emits nearly 1% of the UK’s total carbon emissions? The reason for this is water treatment uses a lot of energy and chemicals, and then the water needs to be pumped around the country’s underground pipes, using even more energy. So it’s good to know that when you save water you’re having an even greater effect of reducing your individual carbon footprint too.
4. Help protect wildlife
When you use water sparingly, you also reduce the need for additional freshwater resources to be taken out of the UK’s rivers and aquifers. This helps protect our wildlife, which rely on our freshwater rivers and aquifers for their survival.
How to save water at home
So, armed with a few very good reasons to save water, let’s dig into the top 10 ways you can start saving water today.
In the bathroom:
Baths and showers use by far the most water in the home, at around 34%.
“Britain ‘showers away’ more than 2,000,000,000 litres of water every single day.” – Waterwise.
Change your water-use habits in the bathroom and you’ll make the most difference to your pocket and the planet.
1. Turn off the tap
Do you absent-mindedly have the tap running while you brush your teeth? It’s easy to forget but you can save up to 9 litres of water a minute by turning off the tap.
2. Fix your leaky tap
A leaky tap could be responsible for 60 litres of water going down the drain every week and could just need the washer replacing.
3. Take a shower rather than a bath
Cut your daily water usage in half by taking a 5-minute short shower, which uses about 40 litres of water, rather than a bath, which uses 80 litres. If you’re worried about low water pressure, read our guide: How to fix low water pressure in the shower.
4. If you must have the occasional bath…
If you love baths, have them just once a week or month. And don’t overfill it. By running it just an inch below your usual level you can save 5 litres of water!
5. Take shorter showers
Beware of some power showers! They may actually use more than a bath – sometimes up to 17 litres of water a minute. Waterwise says: “If every home took one minute off their shower every day, it would help save £215 million on our collective energy bills every year.”
Set a timer and see who in your household is the shortest shower superhero! Waterwise say the optimum shower time is 4 minutes. They even have a shower playlist so you can hit the 4-minute mark exactly.
6. Switch to an efficient shower head
A water-efficient shower head lets you lather up in less water, saving water and money.
Did you know an aerated shower head reduces the flow of water, but not the pressure. They do this by cleverly mixing blasts of air with the water to mimic the 100% water spray of a standard shower head. Feel it to believe it! And it’s totally worth it – an aerated shower head can reduce your water use from a whopping 17 litres a minute to 6 litres a minute. And you still get the rejuvenating feeling of a regular shower – winner!
7. Make your toilet more water-efficient
Did you know that about 30% of the total water used in your home goes to flush the loo? The water is the same quality as the water you get in your taps and it goes straight down the pan! But don’t worry, there are a few things you can do immediately to make your toilet more efficient, so here goes:
a) First, fix any leaks
A leaking toilet should be your main suspect if you receive an unexpectedly high water bill. It can waste between 200 and 400 litres of water a day – which equates to 72,000-146,000 litres of water wasted per year.
It’s really easy to miss a leaking toilet because the water can be silently dripping away where you can’t see it. But you can easily detect a slow leak with a bit of food colouring:
- Drop a few drops of food colouring into your cistern
- Leave it alone for 30 minutes – don’t flush
- If the food colouring spreads into the toilet bowl, there’s a leak
It’s easy to fix though! Check out the ‘leaking toilet’ section in our guide to Common water leaks in the home and how to fix them and if it’s a minor problem you’ll be able to save yourself some money by fixing it yourself rather than calling out a plumber. All sorted? Do the food colouring test again to make sure.
b) Get a Cistern Displacement Device (CDD)
You can get a CDD from most UK water companies, absolutely free. They’re very easy to install and one device can save you up to 5,000 litres of water per year.
Just place the CDD in your cistern and it will displace about 1 litre of water per flush. So easy, everyone should know about it!
b) Upgrade to a low-flush toilet
This one requires more of a financial investment, but if your toilet’s due for an upgrade anyway, make sure you go for a dual-flush toilet. Dual flush toilets are more water-efficient because they have a split-flush button which gives you the option of how much water to use.
How much water can a dual-flush toilet save?
A dual-flush toilet uses about 4-6 litres of water compared to regular toilets, which use a massive 13 litres per flush.
In the kitchen:
Now we’re in the kitchen, where there are just as many opportunities to save water.
1. Use a bowl in the sink – or a plug every time
When you’re washing fruit, vegetables or dishes, a washing-up bowl can help you to keep your water consumption down. You can reduce water waste by up to 50% and then use your collected wastewater to water your plants.
2. Add a tap aerator
This is the same advice as in the bathroom, a tap aerator can help reduce the flow.
3. Use a dishwasher
A dishwasher on the ‘eco’ or ‘economy’ setting is more efficient than washing your dishes by hand, if your dishwasher is totally full. However, you must use the eco setting and do not pre-rinse your dishes. Dishwashing detergents work very well, so all you need to do is simply scrape off food remnants into the food bin and stack into your dishwasher.
4. Get a water filter
Keep your water filter in the fridge for when you need a cold drink, rather than running the tap.
5. Boil only the water you need
Only boil as much water as you need and you’ll not only save water but electricity (and cash) too.
6. Steam, don’t boil, your veggies
Not only does steaming your food cut your water usage, it helps retain much more of your veggies’ natural nutrients.
7. Reduce food waste
It takes a lot of water to produce meat, milk, grains, fruit and veggies and UK households throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year! Over half of it could be eaten if we’re all more mindful about what we buy and cook. The food and packaging waste charity Wrap says that wasting less food could also save households £540 a year.
8. Save up your dirty laundry for a full load
Friends of the Earth UK say that even though two half-loads is the same amount of laundry as one full load, it uses way more water and energy. A more modern washing machine is invariably more water and energy-efficient than older models. The best will use less than 7.5 litres per kg.
In the garden
1. Stop watering your lawn so much
Try to be mindful of the weather and time it so you let the rain water it more often.
2. Use a watering can instead of a hosepipe or a sprinkler
Garden sprinklers and hose pipes can use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour – this amounts to more than 12 baths, so you can see why the UK regularly announces hosepipe bans in summer.
3. Do your gardening in the early mornings and late afternoons
This way the water will go to the roots and soil before the sun evaporates much of it. Also, water the soil intentionally so that it goes straight to the roots.
4.Use mulch and bark in your garden
This helps to reduce evaporation from the sun by up to 75%.
5. Install a water butt to catch rainwater
Installing a water butt can save you up to 5,000 litres of water a year. Your plants love rainwater – they’re not so keen on treated tap water.
6. Use a pressure washers sparingly or not at all
There are some water-efficient models, but due to the high pressure, these really should be avoided.
And finally, be plumbing prepared
A great way to save water is to have a general idea of the plumbing health of your home and regularly check for leaks on your internal plumbing.
- Check your bathroom and kitchen pipes and the washing machine and dishwasher hoses for slow leaks. How can you tell if your water is leaking slowly? Read our guide to Common water leaks in the home and how to fix them.
- It also helps to fully understand your home water system. Read our guide: Home water systems explained to boost your general knowledge.
- It’s essential that you know where your household stop tap is and how you can turn it on and off if you have a burst pipe or other emergency.
- It’s also a good idea to save your water supplier’s number in your phone, to save you fumbling around in an emergency.
It pays to be prepared and protected
Avoid the big headaches and emergencies of unexpected leaks, blockages and burst pipes with our plumbing and drainage cover. You’ll not only make sure you save water, but you’ll avoid expensive call-outs too
What are the best ways to save water at home?
1. Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth
2. Fix leaking showers, toilets and taps
3. Take 4-minute showers not baths
4. Use a dishwasher, don’t wash up
5. Fully load your washing machine and dishwasher
6. Don’t use a sprinkler or hose pipe in your garden
7. Get a water butt
How can I reduce water usage at home?
We’ve outlined 32 ways to reduce your water usage at home. But you must make them daily habits, like always taking 4-minute showers, or waiting for a full load before you switch on the washing machine or dishwasher.
What uses the most water in a UK home?
Garden hose pipes and sprinklers can use around 12 baths worth of water per hour.