Guide written by:
Jenny, construction and gardening writer, Oxford
In the UK, we consume an average of 141 litres of water per person per day*. Household tasks (dishes, washing and cleaning) and personal hygiene (washing hands and face, cleaning teeth and showering) account for over 90% of the total volume of water used. You may not realise it but everyday actions such as flushing the toilet or taking a bath make up the bulk of your overall household water consumption. It is essential to consume this resource responsibly. If you want to save water, your first move should be to prevent any water from being wasted.
A dripping tap can consume up to 120 litres of water per day. A leaking toilet, on the other hand, can waste up to 600 litres of water a day. It is therefore essential to identify any leaks and repair them as quickly as possible. A good tip for spotting potential leaks is to check your water meter: take note of the reading before going to bed and then again when you wake up in the morning. If the numbers don't match, carry out the following steps:
Add a couple of drops of food colouring to your toilet cistern to detect any leaks. If you cannot find the source of the leak, call in a professional.
Responsible water consumption involves reducing the amount of time your water supply is in use as much as possible.
Turning off the tap as quickly as possible will allow you to save dozens of litres of water every day. A great move for the planet and your bank balance!
Of course it's a good idea to take a shower rather than a bath, but only if you keep your showers short. Cleaning your car isn't an issue either – as long as you do it using a bucket of water. Before you turn on the tap, think twice about how you are using your fresh water supply. Changing your water habits is all about becoming more conscious and more responsible.
Toilet flushing is the largest single use of water in the home. Older models use an average of 9 litres of water per flush.
Test the pressure and flow rate of your water supply: if your pressure is above 4 bar, install a pressure reducing valve to your main water line.
Consider any 'clean' water that you may be wasting.
Rainwater can help you to save a significant amount of water.
An automatic watering system is a great way to control the amount of water you use in the garden. It will also prevent you from having to water on a daily basis. The most sophisticated water timers may even include a humidity sensor which will pause the watering system if it has rained or if it is expected to rain.
A drip irrigation system does not consume a lot of water and can be positioned at the roots of your plants to help make the most of your water supply. If you don't want to set up this kind of system, you can always opt for a microporous hose instead. In addition to saving water, connecting your hose to a smart timer will also lower your metered water bill.
To give you a broader idea of water consumption:
These astronomical quantities represent the amount of water required to grow, process and transport each of these products. Established under the direction of international organisations, the 'water footprint' metric includes any water consumed indirectly through industrial-level production. The more natural, local and unprocessed a product is, the lower its water footprint will be.
Curious to find out your own water footprint? A number of organisations offer online questionnaires designed to give you a precise calculation.
* estimations by The Waterwise Project
Guide written by:
Jenny, construction and gardening writer, Oxford, 14 guides