The WWW challenge – Why Waste Water?

We kicked off in June with reducing our water consumption – we have such an abundance of rain here that we forget that the water from our tap has an energy demand, that droughts will become more common place (even in the UK!) and that our sewers can’t cope with the intensity of some of the rainfall.

Courtesy of The Guardian

Courtesy of The Guardian

The average adult in the UK uses 150 litres of drinking water per day, a lot of it for non-potable uses – the image shows what that looks like.  Before you start this challenge, you might want to benchmark where you are and take a look at your household’s daily water consumption.  You can do this by:

a) Looking at a recent water bill – if you have a water meter, your water supplier will have worked out your daily household consumption in l/day.  If you divide that number by the number of people in your household, you will get a l/day/person figure.  If it is above 115, then you have some work to do… If it is below that figure, there is always something you can do!

b) Choose a typical day and start to make a note of when you use water.  If you can, try to estimate how much you use, or the amount of time you let the water run at each go.  Then set targets against each usage type.  For example, time how long you spend in the shower, or how long you let the tap run while you brush your teeth.

10 simple steps to reducing water consumption

1.      Favour showers over baths.

2.      The average shower uses 10 litres of water per minute and lasts for seven minutes. Reduce your shower time to 3 min.

3.      Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.

4.      Do you use a dryer?  The condensate is similar to demineralized water, so is suitable for your car screen wash, your steam iron and for watering plants.  Collect it in old bleach bottles or temporarily in a bucket.  I also use it to soak stained clothes prior to a wash cycle and to rinse my recycling.

5.      Washing machine: use a short wash cycle for your usual laundry, or check the manual for a low-water consumption cycle.  Avoid part loads.

6.      Dishwasher – make sure it’s full before putting it on.  At the risk of causing a domestic… most modern dishwashers don’t need you to rinse tableware before you put the dishes in, but make sure you’ve scraped off all the food residue and that there is space around the dishes for water to circulate.

7.      Dishwasher setting – check your manual for a low water consumption setting, except if it uses more energy.

8.      Invest in a rainwater butt for collecting water for your garden.  Resist watering your lawn during a dry spell, except by using rainwater you’ve harvested in your water butt.

9.      Toilets are such as waste. With every flush most toilets use 9 litres of drinking water.  Use the low volume flush for your toilet, or stick a brick or a filled plastic bottle of water in your cistern to reduce the volume used with each flush.

10.  If you don’t have a water meter, ask your utility company to fit one.  This may put up your bill if you are currently a high consumer, but will help you monitor and reduce your usage in the long term.  Ask your water provider for further advice or visit http://www.ccwater.org.uk.

Happy saving!