Water Efficiency

Water Efficiency

Although it might feel like it rains a lot in the UK, we actually have less water available per person than most other European countries.  Climate change, our increasing population and the simple fact that we are each using more water every year is placing ever increasing pressure on already scarce water resources.  In addition, around 24% of energy in the average home is used for hot water, so reducing your hot water consumption will also reduce your energy consumption.  Waterwise has calculated that the energy used to pump, treat and heat the water in the average family’s home produces enough carbon equivalent of a return flight from London to New York.

Domestic water consumption accounts for around 72% of water used in this country.   Each person in the region currently uses about 150 litres of water every day. Most of this is used for washing and toilet flushing, but it also includes drinking, cooking, washing cars and watering the garden. We use almost 50% more water than we did 25 years ago, partly because of the use of power showers and other water intensive household appliances.

Water shortages don’t just affect us, they can also seriously harm our environment when rivers and ponds run low on water, fish, birds and other wildlife that rely on them struggle to survive.  WWF’s short film “Rivers on the Edge” explains the links between the water we use and the rivers and wildlife it affects.  Continued consumption of water at current levels is not sustainable in the long term, so it’s vital that everyone uses water wisely, not just when there is a drought but all year round. There are many simple things that we can do to reduce our water consumption to make sure that we have enough water now and at the same time protect our natural environment.

Water efficiency measures can simply include installing dual-flush toilets, buying water efficient appliances and using low flow taps and showers. This can reduce your water consumption by about 25%.

Aerated or low-flow taps and shower heads

Spending less time in the shower can save a surprising amount of water and by combining this with a low or aerated flow shower head you can reduce the amount of water you use even further. All the taps and showers in the Green House Project houses are aerated flow.

Water efficient toilets

Over a quarter of all clean, drinkable water you use in your home is used to flush the toilets. Older toilets can use around 10 litres of water with every flush whilst modern ‘dual flush’ cisterns use only 3 – 6 litres. If you have an old toilet you can significantly reduce the amount of water it uses by fitting a free water saving device available from your local water company such as a ‘Save a flush’ or ‘Water Hippo’ which fits neatly inside the cistern.

Water meters

The average household uses about 15% less water when a water meter is installed. As well as encouraging you to use less is might also save you money and meters are generally installed free of charge by your water company.  The Consumer Council for Water has a Water Meter Calculator which shows how much money you will save by having one installed.

Water efficient appliances

To reduce the amount of water you use, always choose water efficient appliances for your home. Older washing machines can use up to 100 litres of water per cycle, whereas new ones use about 45 litres.  Waterwise has information to help you choose a new dishwasher or washing machine, including listings of the efficiency of models.  You can check the efficiency of your existing machine or new machines by visiting the Waterwise website.

In the garden

In the summer, outdoor water consumption can rise to over 50% of peak demand.  However, there are many ways to have a beautiful garden and use a small amount of water.  Using mulch and bark in your garden can reduce evaporation by up to 75%.  Drought resistant bedding and perennial plants need less water and add diversity.

Rainwater collection facilities e.g. water butts or rainwater harvesting

The average roof collects about 85,000 litres of rain a year – enough to fill 450 water butts with free water which can be used on your garden or for washing cars and windows instead of wasting treated drinking water.  In additions to saving tap water, rainwater is better for your plants.  Water butts can be easily linked together so that when one is full the surplus water is diverted into the others.

Rainwater can also be easily harvested for use in the house for toilet flushing. Three Super-Slim Rainwater havesting tanks have been installed at the St Ives house which sits at side of the property and collects rainwater to be used internally for flushing toilets.  The system has been provided by Halsted Rain who are the UK leaders in the collection and utilisation of rainwater in the urban environment, we have introduced a rainwater harvesting system which is cost effective, space saving and a visually discreet solution to reducing the needs of mains water

If you are building a new home, the Water Efficient Buildings website has a lot of useful information on building a cost-effective water efficient home, including information on water efficient products and complying with relevant legislation