We are today placing more and more demands on the amount of water we have. The way we currently use water is damaging our natural environment and is not sustainable. Our water usage, particularly in the domestic sector, is unsustainable. Household water use 52% of all UK water usage. The Government estimates that the average person uses approximately 150 litres per day which is equivalent of 1000 litres per week. One fifth of a household’s carbon footprint comes from heating water for baths, showers and washing up. This is higher than the average amount of water used by people in European countries like Germany and Holland. In Germany, for example, average water use per person, per day is only 127 litres.
By 2020, increasing population and household growth will mean the total demand for water is likely to be around 5% higher than today, resulting in an extra 800 million litres of water needed per day. If we can each save 20 litres per day we can cut the average quantity that each person uses from 150 litres per day to the European average of 130 litres. To protect the UK’s water supplies for the future, there are simple steps that we can all take now to reduce the amount of water being wasted, to protect our precious water resources for the future.
Getting water into our taps has a number of costs. If we take too much water from rivers, and levels fall, birds may lose their food sources and oxygen levels may become dangerously low for fish. Carbon emissions arise from treating and transporting water, the water used every day by the average UK family results in more than 1.5 tonnes of carbon escaping into the atmosphere every year. Most water companies have made good progress in reducing leakage. Since 1997 leakage has been reduced by 27% and water companies plan to reduce leakage by a further 10% by 2035.
Water saving tips
Make sure that everyone in your household knows about the tips and the target, and you won’t just be helping your water and energy bills, but also the environment!
- Fix dripping taps
- Don’t leave the tap running constantly when washing dishes
- Fill the kettle only with the water you need [this will save A LOT of electricity too!]
- Use a glass or a pitch instead of your hands when drinking from the tap. You’ll save a lot of water
- Don’t leave the tap running constantly when washing food, but put them first in a basin so you can reuse this water
- Choose water-efficient dishwashers or washing machines
- Kitchen waste like left-over food or remnants should be wiped clean from the plates before washing or rinsing them off in the sink. These would result to clogging which results to water wastage as well
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. A running tap can use 6 litres of water a minute. If the entire adult population of England and Wales turned off the tap while brushing their teeth, we could save 12.8 million buckets [14 litres each] a day. That’s enough to fill 72 Olympic sized swimming pools
I remember when I started to do so. There was a commercial on Italian magazines, something like 6-8 years ago. There was an African kid and an Italian one. And the African would say to the Italian: “Don’t worry my friend. You can brush your teeth with the tap running today. I won’t drink so we’re even.” This image stuck in my mind and since then I am always closing the tap.
- Take shorter, sharper showers; a shower typically uses around 9 litres of water a minute. We should all aim to reduce our shower time to less than 5 minutes. Maybe you can put a timer in the bathroom…!
- Have a shower instead of a bath; however, long shower might use the same amount of water of a bath. A quick way to test it? Leave the plug in the bath while showering, how full does the bat get?
- When washing your hands, turn the tap off when applying soap to avoid water waste
- Fit a flow regulator or an aerated shower head
- Fit flow regulators or aerators to hand basin taps
- Don’t throw your tissues, napkins and the like in the toilet. Litres and litres of water are spent when flushing them down forcibly. Besides, there is a trash bin meant for those
- Use a watering can or a bucket, not a hosepipe
- Put a water butt in the garden
- Collect rainwater in water butts and use that to water the plants
- Install a leak detector
- Insulate water pipes
- It is best to use your washing machine and dishwasher when it is in full load. When there is not much then doing it manually is better.
- When washing your car, try to use the water you used for rinsing your dishes or clothes. This would mean that immediately after washing your dishes or clothes; avoid throwing or draining away the water. Put it in a pail and use it to wash your car.
- Check for any leakage as often as possible. It is best to repair small damages immediately rather than wait for the worst to come
When you are mindful about these little things, you will be surprised how much water expense you can save in a month!
Rivera, R. (2012). “Save Leakage of Money (6 Water-Saving Tips).” Retrieved 11.11.12, from http://sustainableenergysystemz.com/save-leakage-of-money-6-water-saving-tips/3170/.
DEFRA (2011). Water for life. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by Command of Her Majesty. London, DEFRA.
DEFRA (2011). “Domestic water saving.” Retrieved 12.11.12, from http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/water/conservation/domestic/.
DEFRA (2008). Future Water. The Government’s water strategy for England Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by Command of Her Majesty. London, DEFRA.