Water Saving Tips

Check out these handy Water Saving Tips and see if they can help you.

Saving water is good for your pocket and the environment!

First a word about water meters:

Houses built or altered after 1989 will usually have a water meter. Water meters can save you money especially if you are water wise or if you have a small family or live alone. Your water company will give you sensible free advice. If you don’t have a meter, don’t be afraid to find out more, many people save money by opting for a water meter which is usually free and usually allows you to change back within a certain time if you find that it’s not for you!

And…

Did you know that about half of your water bill is for waste water that drains from your house and has to be treated? Some houses have soakaways for surface water and others may have drainage systems that don’t drain into public sewers. You’ll probably know if this applies to you, but it’s a good idea to check with your water and sewerage company whether they give any allowance on your bill in this situation.

Here are some water saving tips

In the kitchen

The kettle:

  • Get into the habit of filling the kettle only as full as you need. Heating a small amount of water will save you money on your electricity bill too.

Plugs and bowls:

  • Using a plug in the sink or a bowl instead of running a tap will save a litre of water every six or seven seconds. This is particularly useful to remember when you are peeling vegetables or washing up – you can then use this water to rinse out your empty cans for recycling.
  • If it takes a long time for the water in your hot tap to heat up, don’t let the water run to waste, save it in a bowl to water the garden.

Washing machines and dishwashers:

  • An average washing machine uses around 70 litres of water per cycle. If you wait until you have a full load before you use it you’ll not only save water but save electricity too.
  • A dishwasher uses around 30 litres of water per cycle so again, try and use it only when you have a full load.

Other handy hints:

  • Cook vegetables in a steamer. It saves water and is a lot healthier for you.
  • Keep a container of drinking water in the fridge. If you do this you won’t have to run the tap for a long time for a cool refreshing drink!
  • Don’t overdo the detergents; you waste money and it uses more energy to deal with it.

In the bathroom

Using the basin

  • Putting the plug in the basin when you wash your hands and face saves around 10 litres of water with each wash. If you also turn off the tap while you brush your teeth, you’ll save up to another 18 litres.

Take a shower

  •  If possible, take a short, four-minute shower instead of a bath.It costs much more to heat the amount of water needed for a bath – so showers save energy and money too.
  • It costs much more to heat the amount of water needed for a bath – so showers save energy and money too.
  • Power showers use the same amount of water as a bath – but your water company may be able to provide a FREE shower regulator. This device regulates the flow of water through the shower head and uses less water and less energy to heat the water.

Flushing the loo

  • Did you know we flush a third of our daily water down the toilet?
  • Modern toilets with a low or dual flush use less water than older models – they can save around four litres of water with each flush.
  • You can also save water by fitting one of the many free cistern devices, which can save around one litre of water with every flush. Ask your water company for some information.

How else can I help?

 Don’t flush items like baby wipes, cotton buds, nappies and sanitary products down the toilet. Even products labelled flushable can clog up pipes and lead to blocked toilets and sewer flooding to homes and gardens. Avoid unnecessary plumbing bills and the inconvenience of blocked drains by putting these items into the bin.

In the garden

For those people lucky enough to have a garden it can be a very thirsty place. Maintaining it isn’t cheap either. Following these simple tips can make a real difference to the amount of water you use in your garden.

Use a watering can

  •  A watering can is better than a hosepipe for watering your plants, especially one fitted with a fine rose end. It creates smaller droplets which sink into the ground more easily.
  • To avoid water running off and evaporating, aim it at the roots and not the leaves.
  • Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening. This will also help stop water evaporating in the sun.

Cut down on the digging

  • Avoid digging or hoeing open ground which allows moisture to escape.
  •  A good dig early in the season will be enough, especially if you dig in good organic material at the same time. This will conserve water for the roots at a deeper level

Mulching

  • Mulching retains moisture in the soil during the growing season.
  • Build up a layer of about 5-8cm of organic material on top of the soil, such as farmyard manure, bark chips, cocoa shell mulch or peat free compost.
  • Growing vegetables in plastic mulch, by laying the plastic out and planting through the sheet, can suppress weeds as well as retain moisture.

The lawn

  • Let the grass grow longer, it will wear better during dry periods.
  • Sprinklers and hosepipes are not good for lawns. They encourage shallow root growth and are especially bad when the weather is very dry and the ground is hard. The water simply lies on the surface and evaporates.
  • If cracks start to appear in your lawn, fill them with fine soil, sand or compost to retain moisture.

Spotting leaks

Tell-tale signs of leaks on your water supply pipe (the pipe between your house and the street boundary) include a regular wet patch in the garden or on your driveway, and poor water pressure. If a patch of grass stays very lush when everywhere else is very dry it might just be an underground leak!

Planting

  • When choosing plants, consider drought resistant varieties, such as geraniums, which need less water.
  • Get new plants off to a good start with a thorough watering while they’re still in their pots or boxes.
  • Divide the vegetable patch into squares and put plants close together. This shades the soil and produces a better crop.
  • Only vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes need regular watering.

Grow bags

If you use grow bags, sink an empty plant pot in each gap between the plants, and make sure the pot touches the bottom of the bag. To water, simply fill the pots. This will not only use less water, but will also make sure that the roots grow stronger and the plants all receive the same amount of water.

Hanging baskets and containers

  •  To stop water dripping away, cut the bottom off an empty plastic bottle, leaving the cap on. Make a few small holes in the side and put in the basket upside down. Simply fill this container every time you water. It will spread water more evenly and help avoid spillages.
  • Water plants in containers thoroughly, early in the day and again in the evening. This helps prevent the water evaporating in the sun.
  • If your pots are clay or terracotta, a plastic liner with holes in will help retain moisture.

Water butts

  • Rainwater is better for plants than tap water because it is very rich in natural minerals. So why not fit a water butt to collect rain from the roof to use in the garden?
  • You can also recycle suitable household water for use in the garden – like the water you have used to wash the dishes.

In the house – plumbing

Stop water being wasted because of leaks and bursts: Leaking taps and hidden bursts can waste large amounts of water over time. It certainly pays to be alert and to fix them as soon as they happen. Major bursts can cause a huge amount of damage to your house and belongings – don’t ignore minor problems.

Your internal stop tap

  • It’s a good idea to know where your stop tap is, so you can turn off the water supply if a pipe leaks or bursts.
  • The stop tap is most likely to be under the kitchen sink, in the downstairs toilet or in the garage – if it’s in the garage make sure it’s properly lagged and protected against frost.
  • If you can’t find it, ask your local plumber.

Preventing burst pipes

  • To prevent pipes freezing and splitting in winter, you should insulate all pipes and garden taps, and lag the cold water tank in the loft.
  • If a pipe freezes but does not split, thaw it slowly with a hot water bottle. Never use a naked flame.

Fixing drips and overflowing cisterns

  •  A dripping tap wastes water and if it’s hot water, you’ve also paid to heat it.
  • Fitting new washers will fix a dripping tap.
  • Similarly, fitting a new ball-valve in a toilet cistern will help to stop it overflowing. As the overflow will run outside, you may not be aware of a drip, so check all overflows regularly.

Use your meter to check for leaks.

If you have a water meter, turn off all taps and appliances that use water. Then check the water meter.

If the counter is turning, you may have a leak. But make sure everything is turned off. It’s a good idea to take a meter reading every month or so. If you’re using more water, has a tap started dripping? Is an overflow running or is it a leak?

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