Freshwater supplies are in decline across the globe. It often seems like each summer we see the dreaded hosepipe ban warnings due to limited stores in our reservoirs.
It, therefore, makes sense that we start thinking about ways to conserve water. Yet it’s frustrating deciding where to start.
The truth is, there are many ways you can conserve water at home. A little preparation and practice can go a long way in making a big difference. Here are 20 ways you can save water you may not have even thought about.
Conserve Water in the Kitchen
#1 Only Boil what you Need
To begin with, take a look at one of the most used items in your kitchen, the kettle. It’s tempting to fill up the entire kettle when you’re desperate for a cuppa. But you only need to boil enough for the one cup, the rest is an extravagant waste.
Repeatedly boiling the same water, lowers the amount of oxygen it contains. This, in turn, reduces the taste quality of your tea or coffee.
What’s more, the more you boil the kettle, the more energy you’re using. This equals money down the drain for an inferior cuppa. Conserv water by only filling up with what you need, and you will make an impact.
Fact alert: Around 32 million litres of water is boiled every day in the UK only to go cold again.
#2 Steam your Veggies
The easiest method for cooking vegetables is to pop them in a steaming pan of boiling water. Sure, they’ll be nice and soft, but they’ll also be tasteless and waste a whole heap of water.
All that vapour released during cooking is wasted water. Keep the most nutritional content from your veggies by steaming them instead. This requires much less water for far tastier greens.
#3 Re-use Cooking Liquid to Conserve Water
While we’re on the subject of cooking, what’s the point of getting rid of those tasty juices? Instead of dumping them in the sink, save them to make a delicious stock for soups and gravy.
Stocks can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days and if you freeze them, you have a supply lasting close to three months. Surely that beats spending extra on stock cubes and gravy granules.
#4 Fill up your Dishwasher
It’s a common misconception that washing dishes by hand is more efficient with cleaner results. The truth is, given how more energy efficient dishwashers have become, hand washers simply can’t compete with the results.
Dishwashers withstand much higher temperatures than our poor mortal hands. They’re increasingly able to use less and less water to get the job done.
Ensure your dishwasher runs with full loads and use the eco-friendly option to get the best results and to reduce your water usage.
Fact alert: The kitchen tap and dishwasher account for 8 – 14% of water used in the home.
#5 Only wash Full Loads in your Washing Machine
Perhaps you’re used to washing on one day of the week or wash load after load for a busy family. Waiting until you have a full load of laundry to clean, will reduce the amount of water used on a weekly basis.
If you have only a few items to freshen up that aren’t dirty, try airing them on the line or a clothes horse. That way you can wear them again, without having to run a minimal load of washing. A quick spritz of Febreeze can also do the job.
#6 Use High-efficiency Appliances
How many white goods do you have in your home and how many of them are water efficient? When you’re ready to replace an appliance look for products that have the Water Efficient Product label. Also look for the Water wise Recommended Checkmark.
The Water wise Checkmark scheme highlights the most water-efficient products in the UK. Water efficient products and appliances can help you to not only conserve water but save energy and money too.
Bathroom & Toilet Water Saving
#7 Turn off the Tap while Brushing your Teeth
If you’re the type of person who leaves the tap running when brushing your teeth, you’re certainly not alone. In a YouGov survey, Middlesex University found that nearly a third of the population does the same thing.
The problem with this is when you leave the water running, you could be wasting over 6 litres per minute. That’s more than a couple of kettles full of H20! Needless to say, no-one needs that much water to brush their pearly whites.
Fact alert: 1 in 3 people in the UK leave the tap running while brushing – wasting 24 litres of water each, per day.
#8 Maintain your Plumbing
One thing you can take a little time to do each month is to check your plumbing for efficiency. It’s amazing how a tiny, persistent drip can end up being a serious waste of water.
Check your kitchen and bathroom pipes, as well as your dishwasher to avoid fixing leaky pipes on the fly. Similarly, ensure you know where your stop valve is so you can turn it off should you ever need to in an emergency.
It’s also worth keeping your water company’s phone number handy, so you can report leaks if you ever come across them.
#9 Choose Efficient Household Fixtures
Did you know that your household taps and shower heads can waste a lot of water too? Many houses in the UK are old and have dated fixtures that are by no means water efficient.
Doing something like swapping your shower head to a high-efficiency one can dramatically reduce the amount of water they’re using. This can be particularly useful if you’re on a water meter because you’ll be spending less money on the essentials overall.
#10 Take a Shower Instead of a Bath
A standard bath in the UK can hold up to 80 litres, while a normal shower uses around 62 litres of water. With these facts in hand, it makes sense to take a shower to freshen up instead of lounging in a hot bath.
That doesn’t mean that you can flip on the power shower. A Unilever study found that the fastest power shower used as much water as a typical bath in under 5 minutes.
Fact alert: By running your bath by just an inch shorter than usual you can save on average 5 litres of water.
#11 Re-use Bath Water
It might seem unconventional, but re-using your bath water can also reduce your water consumption. This includes everything from bathwater and shower water collected in a bucket to water from the sink. Even drinking water can be reused.
You can re-use this extra water in many ways including:
- Flushing your toilet
- Watering plants
Some people may even go as far as installing a filtering system to further purify the water for reuse.
#12 Get a Low Flush Toilet
Toilets account for up to 40% of your domestic water usage. So if you’re serious about conserving water, it may be worth looking into installing a low flush toilet into your home.
Low flush or water-efficient toilets are made to clear the toilet pan with a smaller flush volume. This could have a remarkable effect on your wallet if you’re on metered water. Plus you’ll be flushing, knowing that you’re not being wasteful.
#13 Flush Less Often
On the flip side to low flushing toilets, you can save water by doing something as simple as not flushing at all. There’s a saying that goes something like,
‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.’
This phrase was used to remind people to conserve water during power outages when water tanks were more commonly used. So think of this ditty when you next go for a tinkle and save water at the same time.
#14 Try Composting Toilets
You might not have heard of one, but using a composting toilet can be a great eco-conscious way to conserve water in your home. Although it may take some getting used to at first.
Composting toilets are greener systems used to treat human excrement biologically without water. While they are only recently catching on in the west, the Chinese have been using similar processes for hundreds of years.
Composting toilets turn our waste into organic composting material that you can use on your garden to fertilise your soil.
Save Water in the Garden
#15 Catch Excess Rainwater
Collecting rainwater or diverting it elsewhere so it doesn’t become wastewater, is an effective and easy way to save water. Usually, rainwater runs through the guttering on your roof, through a downspout and into the drain. It’s literally water down the drain.
Instead of allowing this precious resource to drain away unused, why not collect it to use when you need it. A simple bucket set outside can collect a significant amount of rainwater. However, if you want to go all out, you could try installing water barrels to collect the maximum amount.
Later you can use this water for:
- Flushing your toilet
- Washing your clothes
- Bathing or showering
- Garden irrigation
Doing so can offer the largest contribution to your water conservation efforts. These activities use a significant amount of water year round.
#16 Clean your Car in a Car Wash
A lot of water is wasted when you’re giving your vehicle a good scrub. Many of us opt for the hose or power wash to get rid of those caked on spots of mud or bird poop.
We also often wash our cars in areas where there’s nowhere for the water to be re-used. Combine this with the chemicals we use to get the perfect finish, it all ends up looking a bit wasteful.
To ensure the water used cleaning your car is sustainable, take your car for a professional clean at a car wash. An efficiently designed car wash connects to a sewer that will take the wastewater to a water treatment plant. There, eventually, it will be reused.
#17 Time your Gardening Efforts
One of the greenest tips you’ll find when looking to save water is to time when you water your outdoor plants. Try to water them either in the early morning or late at night – particularly on warmer days.
Adjusting your watering schedule like this will prevent the water from evaporating during the warmer hours of the day. Thus, reducing how often you have to top up the moisture levels in your soil
#18 Reduce your Lawn Size to Conserve Water Usage
Reducing the size of your lawn can go a long way to limiting how much water you use during the drier months of the year. We all have those tricky spots where the grass simply won’t grow.
Consider laying drought-tolerant ground cover in those hard-to-grow spots. Or even use the space for something more enjoyable like a fire pit or decking.
#19 Plant ‘Drought-resistant’ Plants
Drought-resistant plants are another way to maximise the use of your garden while minimising your water usage. Plants such as Lamb’s ear have hairy leaves that limit water evaporation, while succulents have fat, juicy leaves that can store a lot of water.
Even shrubs like bougainvillaea are tolerant of drought. Plus they’re bursting with colour and very easy to grow.
#20 Use a Watering Can Instead of a Hosepipe
It can be tempting to pull out the hosepipe to water the lawn, your prized plants and to even spruce up your patio. It’s much easier than constantly refilling containers.
In this scenario, it’s best to resist though. The average hosepipe uses 170 litres of water for every 10 minutes that it is turned on. That’s like nearly 19 toilet flushes in just 10 minutes! We suggest an extra large watering can instead to conserve water and to leave the hosepipe in the shed.
Fact alert: In one hour a hosepipe will use the same amount of water as a whole family would use in 2 days.
Conserving Water: Final Thoughts
We have a huge responsibility not only to ourselves but to future generations and the sustainability of our planet. Trying to conserve water is just one of the many ways we can make a contribution towards that goal.
On their own, they may seem like small things that don’t mean very much. Yet, as a whole, these water conversation tips have the power to make a great difference.