Saving Water in the House

We use a huge amount of water inside the home from washing ourselves, our clothes, brushing our teeth, flushing toilets and cooking. Here's some ways to reduce water use in your home, from use of water efficient technologies to making some small changes in the way we do things.

Bathroom

About three quarters of the water used in the bathroom is used for washing ourselves, it is possible to have a great wash and save water. Add to that, around 40% of all water used in the home is in the bathroom, much of that is wasted.  

Before buying new bathroom appliances check the manufacturer's water efficiency labels; selecting more water efficient products you can save money on water and electricity bills and help the environment.

Tips for the shower

Water efficient showerheads use less than 9 litres of water a minute while their older style counterparts can use up to 20 litres a minute.  If you use a water efficient shower head you can save up to 50 litres for each shower.  

Other ideas are:

  • Take shorter showers; limit time spent to soaping up, washing down and rinsing off.
  • Use a shower timer.  Choose a manual 4 minute egg time or an electronic timer that attaches to the wall or showerhead.  Or those of you who enjoy singing, 4 minutes is the average length of a song on the radio.
  • Capture water in a bucket while you are waiting for the hot water to heat up and use it in your garden. Your plants will love it.
  • Shave your legs in a partially filled the sink before taking a shower and use the running shower to rinse off.

Tips for the bath

Many people believe baths waste a lot of water, but in many instances taking a bath may use less water than showering. If you love soaking in the tub, consider these simple tips to ensure you are using your bath water wisely.

  • Only fill the tub with as much water as needed.  Use less water for children and pets.
  • Check the temperature as the tub fills, adding extra water to get the correct temperature after the bath has reached the right level is wasteful.
  • Regularly check the plug for leaks and replace when necessary.  Often the rubber seals dry out or crack and become ineffective.
  • Bucket some of the used bath water onto the garden, pot plants or lawn. Make sure you check any soaps or detergents used won’t harm your lawn or plants.

Tips for hot water systems

  • Consider an instantaneous water heater if your water heater is a long distance from the bathroom.
  • Insulate hot water pipes to avoid wasting water while waiting for hot water to flow through.  This saves energy too.
  • Make sure your hot water temperature is not set too high, adding cold water to reduce the temperature of very hot water is wasteful.

Tips for taps

A running tap wastes about 6 litres of water a minute, remembering to turn taps off, and fixing any leaks can save valuable water.  Here are some quick and easy tips to help save water when using your taps:

  • If you have a dripping tap consider getting it fixed, it can waste up to 20,000 litres of water a year.
  • Turn the tap off when brushing teeth, wet the brush and use a glass of water for rinsing.
  • Don’t rinse your razor under a running tap, fill the basin with a little warm water, its just as effective and less wasteful.

Tips for toilets

A quarter of the water used in the bathroom is flushed down the toilet, it seems silly to waste valuable drinking water flushing the toilet.  With these simple tips it is easy to reduce water use in the loo. 

  • Buy a top rated dual flush toilet, remember to look for a four or more star water efficiency rating.  These toilets use as little as 4.5 litres for a full flush and 3 litres for a half flush and can save the average home up to 35,000 litres of water per year.  Older toilets can use around 18 litres of water per flush.  
  • Leaking toilet cisterns waste litres of water a day. 
  • Don’t use your toilet as a bin.  Feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, ‘flushable’ wipes and even goldfish should go in the bin.  Flushing these down the toilet not only waste water but places additional pressure on the sewer system and contributes to blockages.

Kitchen and Cooking

The kitchen uses a large amount of water in your home, approximately 10% of all water used by a household is for cooking, cleaning, washing dishes or drinking.  Some ideas to help reduce water use in the kitchen are: 

Tips for the kitchen

  • Avoid wasting drinking water by running it from a tap until it cools.  Collect it in a bottle or jug and store it in the fridge until it is cool enough to drink.
  • Garbage disposal units use about 6 litres of water a day, put suitable food scraps into a composter or worm farm rather than down the sink.  Your garden and the sewer system will thank you.
  • When you clean your fish tank, use the existing water in the fish tank  to treat garden or potted plants.  Tipping the old nitrogen and phosphorous rich water onto your garden will improve the health of your plants.
  • When boiling vegetables, use just enough water to cover them and keep the lid on the pan.  Vegetables will boil quicker saving power and retain more vitamins in the food.  Use the cooled vitamin rich water for pets, garden or potted plants.

Tips for the dishwasher

  • The dishwasher is the highest consumer of water in the kitchen; making sure your dishwasher is a water efficient model not only saves water but also energy.  Remember to check the water efficiency rating: the more stars the more efficient the product.
  • Only use the dishwasher when you have a full load.  If you only use a small number of dishes, look for a dishwasher with dual draws or smaller capacity.
  • Use a rinse-hold setting on the dishwasher, if it has one, rather than rinsing dishes under a running tap.

Tips for the sink

  • Don’t rinse washed dishes under a running tap.  If you have two sinks, fill the second sink with rinsing water.  If you have one sink, stack washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse with a pan of hot water.
  • Use washing up liquid sparingly as this reduces the amount of rinsing needed when washing dishes by hand.
  • When rinsing dishes use a plugged sink or pan of water, saving running the tap continuously.
  • Flow controlled aerators for taps are inexpensive and can reduce water flow by 50%.
  • Don’t use running water to defrost frozen food, place food in the fridge to defrost overnight.
  • When cleaning, peeling or preparing fruits and vegetables, wash them in a partially filled sink and then rinse off quickly under the tap, where needed.

 

Tips for the tap

A running tap wastes about six litres of water a minute, remembering to turn the taps off and fixing any leaks can save valuable water.  Here are some quick and easy tips to help save water when using your taps:

  • If you have a dripping tap consider getting it fixed, it can waste up to 20,000 litres of water a year.

 

Laundry

Approximately 20% of the water used in the home; is used in the laundry. In addition to water, washing machines also use lots of energy and detergents.  Using a washing machine and tapware with a higher water efficiency rating will save water and money by reducing consumption costs and power usage.  Other things you can do in the laundry are:

Tips for the washing machine

  • If you are in the market for a new washing machine, look for one with a four or more star rating.
  • Choose water efficient front loading washing machines.
  • Adjust the water level to suit the size of the wash load; many new models will do this automatically.
  • Wash with a full load.

Tips for taps

A running tap wastes about six litres of water a minute, remembering to turn the taps off and fixing any leaks can save valuable water.  Here are some quick and easy tips to help save water when using your taps:

  • If you have a dripping tap consider getting it fixed, it can waste up to 20,000 litres of water a year.
  • Flow controlled aerators for taps are inexpensive and can reduce water flow by 50%.

 

 

Leaks

Leaks should be identified and repaired as soon as possible.  Changing washers usually fixes a dripping tap, but a licensed plumber is generally needed to repair leaking toilets and pipes.  A few drips a minute might not seem like much, but when you start adding them up you quickly work out just how valuable those few drips are!

Check for leaks regularly and if you discover a leak, call a plumber to help you detect were the leak may be, and repair it correctly.

Dripping Taps

The amount of water wasted by a dripping tap will vary depending on the severity of the leak, but has the potential to waste thousands of litres of water a year.  Dripping taps usually occur when fixtures are regularly turned off to tightly, over time this causes the rubber washers to deteriorate.  If you have dripping taps contact a licensed plumber, or visit your local plumbing or home improvement store for advice on replacing a tap washer.

Leaking Toilets

A toilet that is continuously running can be annoying, but also wastes up to 60,000 litres of water a year.  Follow these simple steps to check if your toilet has a leak:

  • Remove the lid of the cistern
  • Place a few drops of food dye into the cistern
  • Do not flush your toilet for 10 to 15 minutes
  • If the dye has seeped into the bowl when you return, you know you have a leaky toilet.

Toilet leaks are often caused by a deteriorated rubber valve in the cistern. A licensed plumber can fix this for you. This check should be done regularly.

 

Other leaks

Leaks can be obvious, such as a leaking toilet or dripping tap, but some leaks can be concealed or hidden.  If you have a larger than normal water usage account or can hear water running when it shouldn’t be, testing the water meter is advised.