Washing dishes, clothes, our car, ourselves...drinking, cooking, staying warm - there are so many uses for water that we have become
rather detached to our high levels of consumption. With a little mindfulness, we can train ourselves to become much more aware of just how much we're using, how much we really need to use, and then work to cut back.
Reducing your water consumption doesn't have to mean sponge baths and dirty clothes - there are plenty of easy and achievable everyday ways of using a little less that add up to make a difference. Here's how you can change your water habits today:
1. Fill up before you press go
Dishwashers are super convenient, there's no denying that, but with each cycle using up to six gallons of water, it's a heavy price to pay in water-terms! That's ok, and I'm not about to suggest you return to sink-washing - god forbid - but you should start using your wash cycles less liberally if you're not already.
This means waiting until the machine is as full as possible before you press go. Wait until after dinner, search the living room for spare cups and look under the kids' beds for dirty plates - it happens, trust me). When the machine is brimming with dirties, you can start the cycle.
2. Turn off taps fully
Drip. Drip. Drip. While it may not seem like a lot, carelessly leaving your taps to drip when not in use could be costing you an extra £15 a year. That extra second it takes ensuring that a tap is truly closed is definitely worth it.
It's a high price to pay for water that's literally just 'going down the drain. The extra second it takes ensuring that a tap is truly closed is definitely worth it.
3. Shower power
Baths may be relaxing, but the idea of spending £1.20 on getting clean with two baths a day certainly isn't. Ditch the regular bathing, and opt for a quick power shower, instead.
You'll save time, water and money, and it will mean on the odd occasions you do treat yourself to a dunk in the tub, it will feel like a real spa experience.
4. Use a washing-up bowl
If you're not lucky enough to have a dishwasher, you'll be very familiar with the arduous task of washing up after your dinner. It's not any of our favourite jobs, and most of us just want to get it over and done with as quick as possible. It's therefore no surprise that we don't consider how much water we're using.
However, you can save so much water just by filling up a bowl with suds rather than leaving the water running. Leave your dirty plates piled neatly until the end of the day and wash them all in one go to save even more money. With less money spent on dishwater, they'll be more to spend on doing things you actually like!
5. Don't boil more than you need
I dread to think how much us Brits consume in tea water alone each year, but realistically, that's not going to change any time soon. Whilst we may not be able to kick our avid tea and coffee habit, what we can do is only boil how much water we need each time. This will save on water, as well as energy which can only mean one thing - more money for teabags!
6. Collect rainwater
We all know that England isn't reliable for its dry weather, but where saving money on water is concerned, this can only be a good thing! The sky is basically GIVING us free water, something to consider next time you're moaning about rainy old England.
Stick some pots, buckets or better still, a water butt like this one from amazon outside and use the sky's donations to water your garden, your car and your muddy shoes. And they say 'nothing in life is for free.'
7. Hand-wash smaller items
We're always encouraged to only press start on our washer when it's full to the brim, but your favourite, greying, 'white' silk shirt will tell you differently.
If it's not possible to wait for a full-load for one reason or another, consider hand-washing instead. This will save on the water and protect your delicate items, not only preventing them from running colours, but also from damage, providing a gentler clean.
8. Clean your car in the rain
'I'm singinggg in the raain' is exactly what you and your car will be doing if you wait for the heavens to open before doing your monthly car-clean. A hose pipe is one of the largest contributors to high water bills of them all, at an incredible rate of around six gallons every singe minute.
Such a high-level of water usage should be avoided, and washing your car in the rain is a simply way to avoid needing a hose at all. Get your mac on, pull on your wellies and get scrubbing - your car, and water bill will love you for it!
9. Don't leave taps running
We actually need very little water to complete daily tasks, so water should rarely need to be left running.
There's no need to leave taps on full when you're stood brushing your teeth - turn them off then back on again when you need to swill. Becoming accustomed to this simple habit can save you a humungous eight gallons a day, which is no small feat!
10. Request water-saving devices
If you're pretty good at watching your water usage but want to reduce your consumption even further, there are plently of contraptions to help you do this. From shower heads to tap fittings, they're specially designed to help you reduce your water usage, and best of all, most of them can be cquired for free! Speak to your water provider about obtaining your own and get saving today.
11. Fix leaks
Leaks not only look unsightly - damaging paintwork, fittings and floors - but they increase your water usage on essentially, nothing.
Often they are very easy to find and fix, and if you can't do it yourself a plumber certainly can. The cost may put you off initially, but a leak can amount to tens of pounds each year, which is certainly something to consider before turning a blind-eye.
12. Don't flush unnecessarily
Flushing is so much a part of our daily life that it's basically a reflex. However, with each flush using up to seven gallons of water, it's not something we should be doing on auto-pilot.
You don't need to go as far as allocated household toilet times, however do try and keep flushing to a minimum. Use the bin for odd bits of paper rather than reaching systematically for that magic button.
13. Replace white goods with new technology
It's the 21st century, and our clever-cloggs inventors are doing us water-savers proud. There is now a wide range of white goods on offer to help us cut back on the water we use.
From dual-flush toilets, with two options for lighter and 'heavier' loads, to washing machines with water level options to economically cater for smaller loads, if you're looking to replace this technology is worth considering. While it might be more expensive initially, in the long-run it'll help you slice your water bills to slithereens.
14. Take the karaoke to the living room
Ok, so I know how fun getting your groove on in the shower can be, but the truth of the matter is that it's really not that fun for your water bill. Most of us look forward to the shower for a bit of well needed 'me time', letting the heat rush over us and our voices rip. But realistically, showers were never meant for that:
Get in, get clean and get out. The karaoke party can wait till afterwards - grab a hairbrush, and get the party started in your living room instead!
15. Request a water meter
Unless there's 10 of you living at home, a water meter- where the price you pay is based on consumption alone - is probably going to be your cheapest option.
Usually water providers are very willing to fit a meter, as it encourages a more mindful water usage, reducing waste and the impacts on the environment. Saying that, due to infrastructure - partically in older buildings - it isn't always possible, so always bear this in mind when applying.
16. Apply for single person occupancy
If you don't succeed in gaining a water meter, there are other options available to you. After a failed consultation, you should be able to request a review of your monthly water charge to ensure it correlates fairly to your usage.
If there's just one of you living in your accommodation, you should also be able to obtain a lesser rate for single person occupancy which should reduce your bills significantly.
17. Give back and donate your savings
Here in the UK, having clean, drinking water at our disposal is something we've become accustomed too. Sadly, this isn't the case for everyone and there are around 650 million people worldwide without access to safe water.
WaterAid UK work tirelessly to tackle these problems and have so far helped 23 million people gain access to safe water and sanitation in some of the poorest communities, but there's still a long way to go. Help them help others, and donate the money you save on your water bill.
You can donate as little as two pounds a month, a sum that leaky tap uses up without you even noticing. It's a much better way to spend your money, with the annual sum of your two-pound donation providing a water system toolkit in Timor-Leste.
Don't just look after your own water consumption, look after those of other as well, and start donating today.