Within the first hour of waking up, we use a huge amount of water without even thinking about it. We brush our teeth, hop in the shower, boil the kettle – maybe even wash our breakfast dishes, if we’re really feeling on top of things. All of these little everyday tasks soon add up.
Plus, now that a lot of us are working from home, water usage is on the rise.
So, if you’re fed up with watching your water bills creep up, or have the environment lingering in the back of your mind, check out our top tips below on how to save more water around the house.
What’s on this page?
How much water is wasted in the UK every day?
The average Brit uses 150 litres of water every day. If we apply this to the 67.61 million people in the UK, that’s a total of 10.1 billion litres of water a day – or, to use a classic measurement, 4,056 Olympic swimming pools.
Of course, we need to use this water to go about our day – but many of us waste it unnecessarily. In fact, 80% of Brits admit to committing at least one water-wasting habit regularly.
How much money can we save by avoiding water waste?
When it comes to cutting back on water usage, little changes can go a long way.
If every household in the UK took just one minute off their shower every day, it would collectively save £215 million in energy bills a year.
And that’s just with a bog-standard shower. If everyone in a four-person metered household with a power shower did this, it could save an annual amount of £60 on energy bills, and a further £60 on water bills every year.
Top 11 ways to save water at home
Saving water in the kitchen
1. Invest in a dishwasher
Washing dishes by hand wastes an enormous amount of water. That's why the easiest way to save water in the kitchen is by switching to a dishwasher – plus, it saves you a bunch of time. Win-win!
You can even go one step further by opting for a dishwasher with a capacity suitable for your household size. This way, it’ll always be full when you use it.
It’s also a good idea to avoid pre-rinsing dishes – this is just asking for higher water bills. Nowadays, detergents are super effective, so you can trust them to do the dirty work for you.
2. Load up the laundry
On average, washing machines use 86 litres of water per load. According to the ONS, each UK household carries out an average of five loads of laundry a week – adding up to a jaw-dropping 430 litres of water.
To avoid this wastage, make the most of your loads by stuffing a few extra items of clothing in there.
Next time you buy a washing machine, it’s worth checking the specifications for water usage – the more efficient models will typically use less than 7.5 litres per kg.
3. Conserve water whilst cooking
There are a handful of helpful habits you can pick up in the kitchen to help conserve a bit of water, including:
- Saving the water you use to wash fruit and veg to hydrate your garden and houseplants
- Reusing leftover pasta and rice water (provided you haven’t put salt in it) to give your plants some starchy goodness
- Saving the water leftover from steaming or boiling vegetables to add it to a homemade stock – simply pop the water in a tub, place it in the freezer, and keep adding to it until you have enough
- Placing the lid on saucepans whilst cooking – this reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation, and also helps your veg cook quicker
Saving water in the bathroom
4. Switch your showerhead
The average showerhead uses 12 litres of water per minute – and given that the average time spent scrubbing (or singing) in the shower is between 7-8 minutes, that’s almost 100 litres per shower. And for the 49% of Brits that shower once a day, that’s 700 litres a week – enough to fill a garden water butt seven times.
Other than cutting down on the number of times you shower each week – and the length of time you’re in there – consider getting an aerated showerhead. These handy gadgets reduce the flow without interfering with the water pressure, mixing in air with water to produce a steady, even spray.
5. Upgrade to a water-efficient toilet
Toilet flushing accounts for about a third of household water usage. To combat one of the home’s main water-wasting culprits, it’s worth looking into dual flush toilets, which give you an option of how much water to use with each flush.
Rather than flushing away 13 litres of perfectly good water, these toilets only use about 4-6 litres of water.
6. Keep an eye out for any leaks
A leaky loo has the potential to waste between 200-400 litres of water per day. If left untreated, this could amount to 72,000-146,000 litres of water wasted every year – or 483 bathtubs full to the brim with water.
One quick way you can steer clear of this is by simply checking if you have any leaks in your toilet – which isn’t as technical as it sounds.
All you have to do is add a few drops of food colouring to your toilet cistern, and avoid flushing for at least an hour. If the food colouring has made its way to the toilet bowl after an hour, you have a leak.
You should then contact your water company, who may well fix it for free, or find a recommended plumber.
To avoid any nasty surprises in the future, it’s worth checking this once a year.
7. Brush your teeth more efficiently
A classic water-saving technique – and an outrageously simply one, too. If you’re in the habit of leaving the tap running whilst brushing your teeth, now’s the time to stop.
By simply turning off the tap, and only dampening your toothbrush when you need to, you can save six litres of water per minute.
8. Leave your grass to do its own thing
Let’s get one thing straight – it’s normal for grass to dry up during the hot months. Although it might turn a golden brown colour, it will bounce back as soon as it rains again. Hoses and sprinklers typically use about 1,000 litres of water an hour – or 12 baths' worth.
If you really can’t bring yourself to watch the grass crisp up, try to use your sprinkler or hose in the early morning or late afternoon, when you can make the most of the low evaporation rates.
9. Get yourself a water butt
Harvesting rainwater is an excellent way to save on water bills – and water butts are a brilliant tool to help you do this.
If every household in the UK got a standard water butt, collectively, it would save about 30 billion litres of water each summer.
It’s free water that you can use to tend to your plants to your heart’s content. What’s not to love? All you need to do is buy the container and attach it to a vertical drainpipe. Alternatively, you can get crafty and use a leftover bin or barrel to collect the rainwater.
10. Look into landscaping
If you live in an area that gets particularly dry during the summer months, there are a number of landscaping techniques you can use to make your garden more water-efficient.
- Choose more drought-tolerant plants, such as lavender or a pine tree
- Use loose mulch, such as wood bark or coarse home compost, to prevent water from evaporating
- Place a plant under hanging baskets to catch the drips
- Add water-retaining crystals to pots and containers
11. Try drip irrigation
Drip irrigation systems are a super efficient way of watering your plants. By allowing water to drip slowly to the root, this method uses 30-65% less water than normal sprinkler systems. Water will be released straight into the ground, which means it isn't susceptible to run-off, drift, or evaporation.
There are a number of tools and systems you can use to do this, or you can get crafty and create one from an old water bottle.
Top 5 ways to save water at school
1. Educate pupils
You can install all the water-saving measures in the world, but if pupils aren’t aware of how they might be wasting water, you might not see any changes in water bills. It’s worth setting up a presentation, putting up posters in bathrooms, and even making some sort of game out of it to get the kids engaged.
2. Repair water leaks
Schools have their fair share of toilets and taps, and if even a handful of these start to leak, a colossal amount of water will go to waste. Make sure the team of monitors and cleaners are vigilant and fast to act when reporting leaks.
3. Transform your taps and toilets
Look into what taps your budget will allow. If you’ve got the cash to splash, sensor taps are definitely the way to go. If you’re on a lower budget, however, there is an array of eco taps that can reduce the amount of water that flows through the faucet whilst not impacting the quality.
Similar to home life, toilets are a key culprit in water waste at schools. To avoid this, look into low-flow and dual flush toilets, as well as waterless urinals.
4. Reduce water used in food preparation
Transform the school kitchen into a water-saving hub. Replace standard pre-rinse sprayers with more efficient ones, encourage staff to use dishwashers only, and – where feasible – replace dishwashers and washing machines with more eco-friendly versions.
5. Landscape the school grounds
Not only can this save water, but it can make for a more appealing outside area for the children. Use mulch around plants and trees to reduce evaporation, preserve existing plants for shade, plant trees, and introduce more drought-resistant shrubs.
Top 5 ways to save water at work
1. Educate employees
Inform employees about the importance of water efficiency, and how they can be less wasteful. You could set company-wide water usage targets, and even encourage employees to get trained in water efficiency through various organisations, such as Waterwise.
2. Make bathrooms and toilets more efficient
In most commercial settings, major cost savings come with the installation of:
- More efficient or waterless urinals
- Efficient flush toilets
- Automatic or sensor taps
3. Carry out regular checks
Checking your meters regularly will not only give you an insight into how much water you’re getting through, but will also point to any unseen leakages. Just a heads up – you’ll need to do this outside work hours, when no water is being used.
4. Contact your water supplier
Your water supplier may offer audits to see how efficient your business’s water usage is. Some may even offer a personalised water management package to get the best water efficiency plan for your business.
5. Research water recycling schemes
These schemes mean you can determine where your wasted water is going, and if – or how – you can recycle it in other areas of your business. These are typically more viable in business settings than domestic settings.
Pulling the plug on water waste might seem like a mammoth task – especially while a lot of us are still stuck at home – but it can actually be done with a few simple changes.
Even if you only manage to work through a handful of these tips, you’ll still be able to slash a few pounds off your water bill, and do your bit to help the planet.