Climate change and extreme weather are leading to an unpredictable water supply. The climate emergency is one of the biggest causes of water shortages and it’s only expected to put more pressure on water supplies in future. This summer, this has been only too obvious, with droughts being experienced around the world. Here in the UK, hosepipe bans have been enforced in some areas, and cutting down on water usage has been advised during this time.
However, it’s not just during a period of drought that we should be thinking about conserving water. As we approach the challenging months ahead where we’re facing hefty bills, saving water can help us to trim some money off our utility payments. As conserving water is also great for the environment, it’s a win-win all around.
No need to spend to save
Purchasing water conserving toilet flushes and shower heads are great advice, but with energy bills increasing and inflation rates soaring, we need tips that aren’t going to cost us money before we start seeing the benefits. So, here are our top 12 tips that are entirely free and don’t require huge lifestyle changes!
1) Consider installing a water meter
In England and Wales it’s free to get a water meter installed and you could end up paying less money for your water bill. Just ask your water provider! For those in rented properties, citizens advice states that tenants have the right to request a water meter if their tenancy is 6 months or longer.
Use this free water meter calculator to check if installing a water meter could be beneficial for your household.
2) Check for faulty faucets
A dripping tap can waste more than 5,300 litres of water a year. Fixing these can be simple and it often only involves tightening a washer – check out these instructions or watch some videos if you fancy giving some DIY a go!
3) Be shower savvy!
12% of our gas bill comes from heating water for showers, baths and the tap. Shower instead of taking a bath – a five minute shower uses approximately 40 litres of water, about half the volume of a standard bath.
Even better, instead of leaving the shower running the whole time, turn it off whilst lathering your shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Reducing showering time to four minutes can save a family of four £115 on energy and £100 on water if on a water meter.
4) Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
Pretty much all of us must be doing this now, right? Running the tap has been estimated to waste anywhere between 9 and 15 litres of water every minute!
5) Only fill the kettle with the amount you need
This might save minimal water, but it can save you precious pounds on your electricity bill. The more water in the kettle the more energy it uses to boil, so swap to just the amount you need per drink.
6) Fill the kettle whilst waiting for hot water to come out the tap
It can take a while for the hot tap to heat up, so why not save that water and fill a jug to water plants with, fill a saucepan for your next meal, or fill the kettle for a cuppa.
7) Fill a jug with water and put it in the fridge to drink during the day
Don’t waste water running the tap for cold water either, which can waste more than 10 litres of water a day. If you live in an area with hard water, the fridge can also help to remove the cloudiness and bubbles from tap water.
8) No need to wash up after every meal
The perfect excuse to avoid washing up after every meal – save those dirty dishes until you have enough for a full load!
9) Bowls are your new best friend!
When you’ve saved the washing up for a full load, avoid running the tap the whole time. Instead, fill up your sink with water or use a washing up bowl. If you have multiple bowls available, one for washing and one for rinsing is even more efficient!
Swap washing vegetables under a running tap for a bowl of water instead. It’s been estimated that this can save you £51 a year.
10) Wait for full loads
When it comes to the dishwasher and washing machine, fill them up before setting them off. Two half loads of washing uses more energy, water and money than one full load. Try out the eco setting on your appliances too, as this uses less water and energy to run.
11) Reuse grey water
Don’t pour water (and money!) down the drain – keep any water you’ve got left in glasses at the end of the day, as well as your washing up water, or water you’ve used to cook vegetables. Use it to water your plants, or you can even use it to flush the toilet!
12) In the garden
Say goodbye to hosepipes and sprinklers – switching to manual watering can cut water use by 33%. Don’t worry if your grass looks brown, it’s notoriously hardy and will recover in time. Water butts cost money, so if you don’t already have one, put out buckets and containers to collect rainwater. You can use this to water plants, flush the toilet or leave it outside for wildlife to drink.
The environment hugely benefits from water conservation
Conserving water at home reduces the amount of water being taken from rivers and aquifers. This leaves more water in our ecosystems, ensuring wetland habitats have a plentiful supply for animals that rely on them for survival such as otters, water voles and herons. As well as this, collecting, treating and supplying clean water uses energy; if we use less water, less energy is used and greenhouse gas emissions reduce!
- Check your local water company to see if you can get any free gadgets such as a shower head or a tap insert. Martin Lewis advises how to do this on his website.
- Take this water saving quiz from Anglian Water to see where you could be saving water in your home.
- Use this free water meter calculator to check if your household could benefit from installing a water meter.
- From the Curious.Earth archives, read some of our previous articles about water:
Ancient water conservation methods resurface in Spain
‘The Weight of Water’ – an interview with the curiously creative filmmaker Deej Phillips