Water-saving in the bathroom

How well does your bathroom use water? Ensuring it’s as efficient as possible isn’t just about making sure your home is green and sustainable. It’s also about saving you money as water efficiency will correlate directly with lower bills.

If you’re looking to install a new bathroom, then it’s the perfect time to familiarise yourself with some of the big things you can do to cut the amount of water you use.

Firstly, get your head around the Bathroom Manufacturers’ Association water-efficient product labelling scheme. This helps you to get facts and figures from all kinds of bathroom manufacturers and make your purchasing decisions accordingly.

You could also look into installing a grey-water system that recycles water from, for instance, the bath and shower and re-uses it to flush the toilet. This technology is still in the development stage and it is arguably not yet in the front line of water efficiency. Here’s a factsheet from a water company explaining the issues.

You could also ask how efficient is your hot water system? Nothing wastes energy like an inefficient boiler – and a good way to tackle this topic is to read this Consumers’ Association article on the topic.

But if you’re looking to tighten up the performance of your existing bathroom there are still plenty of small-scale but effective water-efficiency measures you can adopt.

Waterwise, a UK lobby group that aims to reduce water waste, says that the most effective way to cut the amount of water you use is to reduce waste rather than trying to restrict your water use. Here are some areas that it suggests concentrating on – and a few from us too:

In the bathroom

  • Learn where your stop valve is and ensure it’s in working order. If you ever do have a water emergency, such as a burst pipe or a jammed tap, you’ll thank your lucky stars you did this. If it is old and irretrievably stuck you should consider calling in a plumber to replace it with a modern lever-type valve.
  • Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth – use a beaker or mug instead. Waterwise reckons that if we all did this, we’d save enough water to supply nearly half a million homes.
  • Reduce the capacity of your older toilet cistern with a hippo. If you need to fit a new toilet, current standards will make it much more water-efficient – check this out before you buy.
  • And don’t flush the loo unless you have to. If you have something for the bin, use the bin. You might even consider whether a brief bladder-emptying visit needs a flush or whether it can wait until the loo is used again.
  • Change the washers on those dripping taps, save thousands of litres a year, and see a big difference in your water bills.
  • Weigh up whether you need a bath or long shower. Baths can use three times the water of a shower – but power showers can use even more than a bath. Keep it short if simply getting clean’s your goal. Could you re-use your bathwater in the garden – or even have a grey-water system fitted?

Elsewhere in the home

  • Use your dishwasher – but fill it first. These devices are more water-efficient than doing the dishes under the tap and they heat only the water they use. But you’ll lose these benefits if you run them half-empty.
  • The same goes for your washing machine – make sure you only run it with a full load to save on water, energy and detergent. Check out the water efficiency rating before buying a new machine.
  • Perform kitchen tasks, such as washing food, in a bowl instead of under a running tap. Recycle the leftover water to give the plants a drink.
  • Use a water butt to get lovely free water for garden and outdoor tasks such as washing the car or bathing the pets.
  • Clean your windows, your car and your patio with a bucket of water and a sponge or broom rather than turning the hose on them. If you do use the hose, fit it with one of those trigger devices that allow you to turn the flow on and off without going back to the tap each time.
  • Mulch the garden to reduce weeds and prevent water evaporating from the soil.