It’s easy to conserve water, and you’ll benefit through lower costs and a dryer, more comfortable home.
You can buy water-saving appliances or install low-flow fittings, but the easiest way to save water is to think about how you use it.
By repairing leaks or turning off the tap when you are brushing your teeth you can save thousands of litres a year. Here are some tips:
Turn off the tap
When brushing your teeth, for instance, turn the tap off until you need water to rinse. When you do have the tap running, turn it on part-way.
If you have a tap that drips at 50ml per minute (an egg cup full), you’ll be losing 72 litres of water a day. Over the course of a year, that’s more than 26,000 litres – enough to fill a family-sized swimming pool. If it is leaking from the hot tap, that unused water could cost more than $200 a year to heat. A leaky hose can waste even more water – up to 60,000 litres in a year. Soggy ground around a leaking garden tap or hose can cause dampness and condensation in your home.
Use the plug
If you rinse a lot of muddy clothes under a running tap, you could be sending as much as 100 litres of water down the drain. That’s enough to do a whole load of washing. Instead, use a bucket or part-fill the tub instead of running water. The same applies in the kitchen. If you’re rinsing dishes or food in the kitchen, put the plug in and part-fill the sink instead of running water throughout.
Fill a jug
Keep a water jug in the fridge in summer so you don’t have to run the tap for ages to get your water cold enough for a drink. It will also help save water when filling pots for cooking or the kettle. If your water is chlorinated, it also reduces the chlorine flavour.
Scrape dishes or use the dishwasher’s eco rinse
Rinsing plates in the sink can waste many litres of water and is often unnecessary. Generally, it is enough just to scrape plates before putting them in the dishwasher. Modern dishwashers can cope with grease and even some food scraps without rinsing first. Also, they often have water-efficient rinse cycles. These cycles may use just a few litres of water to rinse messy dishes when you’re not ready to wash a whole load.
A typical bath uses 180 litres of water. A typical shower uses anything from 20 to 100 litres, depending on how long you stay in. To save water and save on hot water bills, take showers instead of baths and keep showers short. For teenagers, put a clock or a timer in the bathroom and reward them if they keep showers to the agreed time.
Reduce your toilet’s water use
Toilets use from three litres (for recent dual flush models) to 12 litres each flush. Many households use one-third of their water to flush the toilet. You can adjust your toilet so it uses less water. Put a displacement device, such as a ‘gizmo’ or a brick, in a single-flush cistern. Or you can fill a couple of plastic bottles with water and put these in your cistern. You could save thousands of litres of water a year. In older toilets (pre-2004) a full flush uses 11 litres. Check inside your cistern to find how much water you’re using with each flush. Reducing the amount of water you flush is a particularly good investment if you have a septic tank, or are on metered water or rainwater tank supply. Check with your plumbing retailer for the best option for your cistern.
Choose the right appliances
Choose appliances that are the right size for your household so it’s practical to run them only when they’re full. And choose models that use energy and water efficiently.
Don’t run appliances half-empty
Fully load your dishwasher and washing machine before running them. Typically, the ‘half-load’ setting on dishwashers tends to use much more than half the water and energy of a full load. Choose eco-settings where practical to save water and energy.
Reduce water flow
Water flow is the rate water comes out of your taps and showerheads. You don’t need your taps or showerhead to deliver more than nine litres of water a minute, yet some use three times that much. By switching to water efficient (‘low-flow’) taps and showerheads or installing water restrictors you can save significant amounts of water.