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It’s win-win for water efficiency

The World Cup is on and Britain is basking in the full glory of summer. Sprinklers are in full use - keeping gardens across the land in a lush state in the intense heat - and paddling pools are full of invitingly cool water, at least briefly. Despite the sunshine, at the back of your mind lurks a dark cloud; not only is the water meter racking up a huge bill, but should one of our most precious resources be treated with more care? 

To a country surrounded by water, it looks like we don’t have much to worry about, but did you know that 97.5% of the world’s water is undrinkable? To make matters worse, of the 2.5% of freshwater resources, only 1% is easily accessible. There is a global water crisis and it is expected that the UK will hit real problems with water shortages by 2050. 

As tempting as it is to throw caution to the wind and up your consumption as convenience demands, it is essential to keep an eye on your water usage (and importantly water wastage), especially if you have a water meter. According to the Environment Agency the average person in the UK uses around 140 litres of water a day. Most of this is used by your plumbing system, with 40% used in the bathroom, 22% flushing the toilet, 22% for drinking, cooking and other uses, 9% on washing machines, 5% washing dishes and 2% for garden and outdoor use. When the hot weather calls, water usage for the outdoors traditionally sky rockets.

Water remains a finite resource and whilst ever it is a decreasing stock, there is much to do in everyday life to reduce your usage and make sure you are not wasting water. Everyone has to do their bit to aid water sustainability, from the water companies and big business, down to households and individuals. 

If each person in the UK reduced their water usage down to 100 litres a day, it would have a massive impact for years to come and would have the added bonus of reducing the size of your utility bills. The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has put together the following water saving tips to help you cut your water bills all year round:

  • Taking a shower rather than a bath will save around 30 litres of water each time
  • Turn off taps when cleaning teeth, shaving or doing the dishes.
  • Always turn taps off tightly so they do not drip.
  • Use dishwashers and washing machines only when full. While modern high-end washing machines will calculate the load and use water accordingly, the majority of washing machines and nearly all dishwashers will use the same amount of water whether the machine is half empty or full.
  • When it comes to replacing showers or taps, always go for models with a water efficient spray pattern. 
  • Old bathroom? If your toilet was installed before January 2001 it’s likely to use an older style flush which can use up to 14 litres of water per flush! Consider replacing with a dual flush model which use between 2-6 litres
  • Consider fitting water saving devices such as reduced flow shower heads, taps and toilet flush water savers
  • Only use tap water where you have to - invest in rainwater butts to catch rainwater for gardening use, but make sure that you use the water trapped so as not to create health risks such as legionella. Clean the water butt at least annually and use insulation to protect it from direct sunlight. 
  • Keep your plumbing systems well maintained. Fix any dripping taps or plumbing leaks. A dripping tap can waste more than 60 litres of water per week if it isn’t rectified - over three months you could be paying for a whopping 720 litres of unused water.  

Remember, your local plumbing professional can offer lots of guidance on ways to improve your household water efficiency. To find a professional in your area visit https://www.ciphe.org.uk/find-a-plumber/, call 01708 472791 or email info@ciphe.org.uk