I don’t know why I’m quite so obsessed with water use. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Brighton, and swam in the sea from an early age. Or possibly because I was a windsurfing instructor for a few years – which certainly teaches you to respect water and the sea. If you’ve got a water meter, you can dramatically reduce your consumption of this precious resource without much impact on your quality of life at home.
Numerous counties across the south and east of the UK are have now been hit with a hosepipe ban. We’re going to need to learn how to reduce our water use over the next few months, maybe the next few years – and perhaps over our entire lives.
To begin with, the average UK adult uses 150 litres of “drinking quality” water per day. To the left is a picture of what all that liquid looks like. Scary. But what can you do, without a major overhaul of your home?
Toilets are a massive waste. With every flush most toilets use 9 litres of drinking water. Some of us might have tried the old water hippo or brick and, yes, you can save a litre of two, but for me a far greater saver is the Interflush kit, which attaches to your old siphon toilet and allows you to control the amount of water it uses as you hold down the handle. Simple to fit and the payback is a few months.
But toilets aren’t that sexy, are they? So how about showers? Of course, I could go on about how we should all be sharing them and how steamy it can all get but, let’s be realistic, it’s not really a viable long-term water-saving solution. The simplest way to reduce water in a shower is to use a shower timer. There are plenty to choose from and they don’t really need to be anything more complicated than a waterproof egg-timer. When the average shower uses 10 litres of water per minute and lasts for seven minutes, cutting this down to four minutes is pretty easy and will save 30 glorious litres of the wet stuff.
You could go one step further, and fit a low-flow aerating shower head like this one from Mira or this from Camel, both of which simply screw on to your old shower hose. For around £30, this will cut water use from 10 litres down to around five or six, depending on which model you go for, and your water pressure. And remember, you pay for hot water three times: once to buy it, once to heat it and once to get rid of it. So every litre saved in the shower saves the cost of heating it too. With no noticeable reduction of water use, it’s a simple winner.
But if you’re a bath person and don’t like the idea of sharing water with your partner or family (sitting around in other people’s gunky soap and dirt is considerably less sexy than sharing a shower, even if you do love them) you could fit a water-diverting valve to the outside bit of your waste pipe. This will allow you to divert water from the bath to a hosepipe, to be used in the garden for watering plants. Simple but ingenious grey-water recycling.
A relatively small amount of water is actually used in cooking and drinking, but washing up can be pretty bad. A simple solution is to use a washing-up bowl – or you could go one step further and fit a foot-pedal-operated tap like this one from IZI flow. Quite simply, it means you don’t need to turn the taps on and off to rinse, and as soon as you step away from the sink the tap goes off. Brilliant.
All these products are easy to fit and use, and have helped cut water use in my own home to 100 litres of water per person per day – a reduction of over 30% (saving me extra in hot water costs as well). Perhaps it’s time to for you to start thinking long-term too, and put that Easter DIY to good use. You even have an excuse to share that once-in-a-blue-moon shower.
These items are made for the US and can save much water with little cost.
As Kitchen Designers, MK and Company Interior Design and Decoration has been using more and more Foot Pedal Valve’s at the sink areas. Our clients love them and they really do save water. Check out this video.