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Brits use double the amount of water they think they use

Survey suggests most households underestimate their water consumption by more than half

A survey conducted by the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS) has revealed that the average UK household uses around 350 litres of water a day. However, many people only estimate their consumption at around 157 litres – that’s an underestimation of 55%. 24% even admit that they have no idea how much they use.

Many people find that they are using more water during the pandemic, due to being at home so much of the time. This is most likely due to more cuppas, more toilet flushes, more dishes to wash, and maybe even more time to take a leisurely bath on a morning rather than a quick shower due to not having the commute to work. Plus, we’re all washing our hands significantly more!

This is a trend we really need to reverse and even those not using more now than they were a year ago, still have the capacity to reduce their consumption.

Why save water?

There are a number of good reasons to reduce your water consumption, and most of them are really easy and don’t compromise any of your day-to-day activities. Firstly, there is a financial benefit if you are on a water meter because the more you use, the more it costs. Even if you are not on a water meter, you could still save money by using less water because around 20% of your gas bill (assuming you have a gas boiler) is for heating water for baths, showers, and the hot water tap.

There is also an environmental benefit. You may think that, in a country that sees quite a lot of rain, we don’t need to worry too much about water shortage in the UK, but that’s not the case. Due to climate change, our temperatures are expected to continue rising over the next 20 years and warmer, drier summers will mean more drought risk. Reducing consumption allows us to minimise water being taken from rivers and aquifiers, which not only preserves resources but protects wildlife who rely on them. Water treatment and getting it around the country also uses energy and contributes around 1% of the UK’s carbon emissions.

5 top tips for using less water

As restrictions slowly lift, many of us will be going back to the office but it is estimated around 25-30% will continue to work from home, at least some of the time, as we embark on a ‘new normal’. Regardless of where we work, we can all make an effort to use less water and it’s great to put things in place now, before the warmer weather comes.

There are many ways you can use less water and we have covered lots of them on the blog before but here are some of the ‘quick wins’ that anyone can easily build into their routines:

  • Keep a jug by the sink and use it to catch the run-off water while you’re waiting for it to get hot. You can then use it to water plants or for cooking
  • Refreshing the dog or cat’s water bowl? Don’t pour the old water away, use it to water plants
  • Keep showers to 4 minutes long. You can use a timer but it might be more fun to choose a 4 minute song to play and try to be done by the end of it (did you know there is a Spotify playlist of 4 minute songs created especially for this purpose!).
  • Boiling veggies? Rather than throwing the water down the sink when boiled, use it as a stock for soup or making gravy – it’s full of nutrients from the vegetables. You can even freeze it if you’re not planning to use it straight away. Minimise how much water you use by cooking with a stackable steamer. You can have 3 layers of cooking and only require water in the bottom one (plus steaming retains much of the goodness so it’s better for you too)
  • We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale about hair ‘washing itself’ if you leave it long enough haven’t we? Well, there is actually some truth in this: hair can benefit from fewer washes and condition will improve after some time of not washing it, as long as you can tolerate the greasy stage first. Lockdown is the perfect time to put this to the test as you can’t tell when hair is oily on a Zoom call, plus it's still cold enough to wear a hat on your daily walks! Not washing it will save water, as well as shampoo and conditioner, and by the time we all emerge from lockdown, it will be in peak condition!

For more details about the WRAS survey, click here.

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