Saving water – lots of water

Last week the British Press ran a story about saving water. The reason was the publication of a report from the Energy Saving Trust, entitled At Home with Water, which you can download here.

As regular readers know, in our household we do lots to reduce our water consumption, so I was keen to discover any innovative ways that we could do better. Sadly, for anyone who uses their common sense about water consumption, the report was disappointing. It starts well, including the statement:

Reducing water consumption is not an uncomfortable burden. We don’t have to be noticeably more frugal – we only have to be aware of the impact of our decisions and make some very simple changes.

Great! I can be aware of the impact that my decisions make! Only, it turns out that I already am aware, so it’s hard to improve. However, there are some interesting statistics (based on people’s responses when using The Water Energy Calculator). For example, showers account for 25% of water use and toilets for 22%, whilst watering the garden only accounts for 1%!

An extract from our latest water bill... I wondered why it was such a big scale up the side!

An extract from our latest water bill… I wondered why it was such a big scale up the side!

It also reveals that, on average, individuals use 142 l of water per day. Now, this is an interesting statistic, because in total in our two-person house last quarter, we used 0.06 cubic metres per day… since a cubic metre is 1000 litres, we use 60 l per day… that’s 30 l each… that’s just over 1/5 of the average. WOW! I knew we were good, but I didn’t realise we were that good. However, I don’t want you to think that this is at the expense of cleanliness: we each shower three or four times a week and the clothes are washed in a (full) water-efficient washing machine. BUT we rarely flush the toilet with water direct from the mains – it’s either re-used shower water or rainwater. We used to have the mains turned on to the toilet cistern, but it’s off now and that explains the recent drop in consumption that you can see in the graph on the left… allowing some mains filling led to the use of 1 l of mains water per flush (because we couldn’t fill the cistern from our water bottles fast enough to stop this happening).

According to the report, metered homes use about 3% less water than unmetered ones, but we seem to have beaten this figure somewhat.

More on what the Energy Saving Trust suggests we all do in a post later this week, along with some suggestions of my own. For now, however, I’m just going to sit here and feel smug!

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  1. Since we’ve had a week of sunshine I’m expecting a hosepipe ban anytime now. Water conservation is really quite important but it is all a matter of common sense.It’s quite annoying though to be taught conservation by the water authorities who lose vast quantities from unrepaired pipes over long periods but expect us to be careful.
    xx Hugs xx


  2. Linda

     /  July 10, 2013

    I think about water a lot when I camp, at least partly because it is so heavy to carry! My ‘best’ re-using of water starts with my hot water bottle water – usually still warm enough (well at least body temperature) to wash myself with and any bits and bobs of crockery. This bowl of very slightly soapy water (hardly need any soap at all except for dirty feet…..) in one hand then accompanies me with my pee bottle in the other hand to the nearest hedge (I am old enough both to need a pee bottle and to not feel embarrassed by the odd looks I get!). I empty the pee bottle in the hedge, then wash it out with the water that is now on its third use, before it finally re-enters the water cycle at the same time diluting the pee so that the hedge benefits from a little nitrogen top-up. This sort of transfers to home life except the washing water has not come from a hot water bottle, so its not quite so satisfying….


  3. David’s comment about losing water through damaged pipes is so true, even here over the other side of the world! It used to be that a pipe leaking underground was a very low priority. Fortunately now though, with heavy water restrictions (recently relaxed) a call to notify them of a leaky pipe brings out a strike team in short order! It is good to see them keeping their own houses in order and not just telling us to do it.

    (What kind of water catchments do you have for public supply over there?)


    • Yes, loss of water through damaged pipes is just unacceptable. Round here they do seem to be doing lots of work to sort it out, even though we are one of the wettest parts of the UK. We are lucky to be supplied by ‘Welsh Water’ who are ‘not-for-profit’ so use money for repairs or improvements rather than having to pay dividends to shareholders. Elsewhere in the UK it’s all private companies. If Welsh Water do make a ‘profit’ they give it back to customers via a discount on their next bill.
      Water here comes from reservoirs in big flooded dammed valleys, which are quite local. In the SE of England, however, they extract from aquifers and the rivers, thus depleting the ground water (although that was fully recharged, apparently during last year’s floods).


      • A water company returning a profit on the next bill? *wipes away a tear* Wow. Over here people do nothing but complain about the continuing high cost of water, especially now they are building a very controversial and expensive desalinisation plant that is costing us before it is even finished. The prices just keep going up even though we are all trying to use less and less!


  4. Impressive water saving measures! Makes me feel guilty- we have a meter and use the shower and water efficient washing machine and I gave up using the dishwasher but I have way to go!


  1. More water-saving | The Snail of Happiness

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