Saving water in the home

The average household in Ireland is currently using around 600 litres of treated drinking water a day.

The amount each person uses can be broken down by percentage to show that approximately

  • 30% is used for flushing toilets
  • 21% is used for bathing or hand basins
  • 12% is used for showers
  • 13% is used for clothes washing
  • 8% is used for dish washing
  • 7% is used in the garden
  • 5% is used for other purposes
  • and only 4% is used for drinking !
  • This means that 96% of the water we use every day has been treated to drinking water standards for little real benefit. The cost of this wasted treatment is high both financially and environmentally, a large portion of our individual carbon footprint is due to the treatment and delivery of fresh water.

    We can all do a lot to reduce this waste for comparatively little effort;

    1 Check for leaks and dripping taps; a dripping bath tap can easily lose 30 litres a day, a sticking ball cock can lose another 20 litres or so.

    2 Try to have baths less frequently and have showers instead; a bath can easily use 80 -125 litres of water much of which you have paid to heat, a gravity fed shower will use around 20 litres for 5 mins but a power shower can easily use 40 litres in the same time. If you have short showers you will save on the energy bills as well as save water.

    3 Do not leave the tap running to rinse dishes etc.. wash up in a bowl or plugged sink and rinse after if necessary

    4 Turn off the tap whilst you brush your teeth; if you brush properly you will spend 2 minutes in which time around 8 litres of water will pass from a slow running tap

    5 Try not to use the washing machine or dishwasher until there is a full load; your machines will use almost as much water for a part load and nearly as much electricity.

    6 Store a jug of clean water in the fridge for cold drinks; running the tap until it goes cold can waste up to 3 litres each time

    7 Wash fruit and veg in a bowl not under a tap

    8 Install efficient shower heads and aerated tap mixers these can give better pressure at the outlet and use less water

    9 Make sure your toilet flushes are efficient; newer models have dual flush and smaller volume but you can reduce the amount of water used in an older cistern by placing a plastic bottle full of sand or something similar in the empty part so that less water is released each time. You can also adjust the float level so that the cistern fills up less.

    10 If buying new equipment make sure it is efficient;all new appliances are given energy ratings and water consumption is often quoted. If you can’t see a rating ask!

    Finally; Consider installing rainwater or greywater recycling systems; as we said at the beginning of this list 96% of the water we use wont be consumed as drinking water.

    As much as 55% of your daily water demand could come from recycled sources without posing any risk to health or any visible alteration within the house.

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