Managing your water use can be just as important as setting the timer or thermostat for your heating or remembering to turn electrical items off. It can save you some money and but help a little environmentally too.
Things you can do right now
Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth
If you leave a tap running, on average, you'll lose six litres of water every minute. As a nation we could save an amazing 180 million litres a day if we all only used the tap when we needed the water.
Put tissues and cotton wool in the bin
Throwing used tissues or cotton wool down the toilet is a big water-waster. It's like flushing money down the pan – and these items can cause blockages at the treatment works. It's better for everyone if they end up in the bin instead.
Find out how to turn off your water supply
If you don't already know where the main stop valve for your place is, it's worth finding out. If a pipe does spring a leak you could save yourself the headache of a big clean-up operation as well as reducing the amount of wasted water.
Ways to upgrade
Things to look into
Take short showers instead of long baths
A bath can use up to a massive 100 litres of water, on average, while the average shower only uses about 33 litres. So, if you want to reduce your water use, it's worth thinking of a bath as a treat for when you have time to relax and soak.
If you don't have a shower installed, you can buy shower heads and pipes that fit onto the end of both bathroom taps. They can be taken on and off so that you can still run the bath when you need to.
Whatever type of shower you have, setting a timer nearby (perhaps on your phone) is another way to keep water use to a minimum – although it requires a bit of self-discipline too. You can buy little timers that you can stick to a nearby tile so that you don't have to remember – you can set it after you've stepped in. Or if you're lucky enough to be getting your bathroom redone, you could even look into having one integrated.
Watering cans and water butts
If you have a bit of green space, sometimes that needs a shower too.
If you have your own garden, installing a water butt can save litres of treated tap water. Water butts collect run-off rainwater from roofs and gutters meaning you can save excess rainwater for those not-so-rainy days.
If you not only have a garden but sprinklers too, it might still be worth looking into getting a water butt – sprinkers can use 1,000 litres of mains water an hour. And if you can get about in your garden easily enough, it's might simply be worth using a humble watering can instead.
Whatever your set-up, it's best to water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening so that the water has time to reach the roots of your plants before it evaporates in any daytime warmth.
Use a dishwasher (and load it up)
A modern dishwasher can use as little as 15 litres of water for each wash. That's quite a saving when you compare it to 63 litres for using the washing up bowl, or even 150 litres if each dish is rinsed as well.
If you can afford to get one and have the space, a dishwasher can make a substantial difference to the water you use (and save you time).
If you're someone who handwashes in bulk, a dishwasher is also a handy place to put the dishes so that you can keep the sink and sides clear.
Similar to piling up the plates, it's worth waiting until a full load before you turn the dishwasher on. This will help you save more water and energy than putting the machine on repeatedly.
It's the same principle as when you use a washing machine – one full load uses less water and less energy than two half loads.
Grey water pumps
A simple and effective idea, grey water pumps are devices that move the water from your bath or shower tray into your garden, if you have one.
They don't use electricity, instead relying on siphon suction to transfer your used water to where it's needed. Using natural atmospheric pressure you can use the run-off from your bath or shower to water plants, fill water butts, or even wash your windows or a car.