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Are you speaking to your plumber about saving water?

Waterwise Water Saving Week 2021

This week is Water Saving Week. A Waterwise initiative, the purpose is to raise awareness of the benefits of saving water and provide practical tips to allow everyone to play their part in reducing water consumption.

There is a theme for every day of Water Saving Week and today, Wednesday 19th May, is ‘Talk to your plumber about saving water’. That’s because there are a number of ways that you can save water in the home through adjustments to your plumbing systems and adapting habits and behaviours. As plumbers, we’re a bit obsessed with water so who better to discuss this with to make some changes?!

Why should we save water?

It’s a common misconception that a country that gets as much rain as we do in the UK has no real need to conserve water but in reality there are many reasons why it’s still really valuable to use less. For a start, we don’t actually have huge surpluses of water as, while it may feel like it’s always raining, we are experiencing much more dry weather than we ever used to due to climate change. In fact, April 2021 was one of the driest Aprils on record with only 10.7mm of rainfall (the average is 58mm).

There are very real and tangible benefits of saving water: the first one being you can save money. This doesn’t just apply to those on a water meter (where there is a direct saving to be made by using less) as heating water for baths, showers, and general use accounts for around 20% of your gas bill (if you have a gas boiler) so you could see reductions there.

One of the big benefits of conserving water is to the environment and minimising carbon emissions. Treating water and moving it around the country accounts for 1% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Using less water also means we need to take less water from rivers which preserves resources and protects the wildlife that depends on them.

How can your plumber help you save water?

There are many ways that you can save water just by being more mindful about your consumption, and we’ll come on to those in a moment, but there are lots of things that we can help you with that will make a difference. These include:

  • Fixing those leaky taps: a dripping tap may be a bit annoying but it’s often one of those things you just put up with until it gets unbearable. The bad news is they can only ever get worse so you may as well just get them fixed as soon as they start. Leaking taps and showers can account for 60 litres of water being wasted every week.
  • Fixing running toilets: You may not even realise that your toilet is running as most of us tend to leave the bathroom more or less straight away. A running toilet means that water continues to run into the bowl after the flushing process has finished. One way to see whether this is happening is to add a few drops of food colouring into the cistern. Leave it alone for 30 minutes (don’t flush) and check the toilet bowl. If there is colour in the water of the bowl, this means that water is running into it in between flushes, and this is not supposed to happen. Fixing this can make a big difference as a leaking toilet can waste up to 400 litres of water every day!
  • Making sure the boiler is working efficiently: The longer your water takes to warm up, the longer you’re likely to run it before it’s hot enough and the more you will use. While catching the run-off water and using it somewhere else is a good idea, it’s far more effective to have a boiler that heats the water quickly (and will reduce your energy consumption as well). A boiler service is a good starting point for assessing how efficient your boiler is and your heating engineer will be able to make recommendations for improving it, if required.

Adopting good water saving habits

The other aspect of water conservation is just being more mindful about how much you’re using and how you can minimise waste. This is something that we have covered on the blog before (see our Water Efficiency articles) but here are some good tips for conserving water and maximising every drop:

  • Switch from baths to showers and keep them short: Baths use much more water than showers, with a bath requiring around 75 litres of water. A standard electric shower uses around 4 litres per minute (though power showers use much more), so it not only makes sense to switch to showers but to keep it short as well. WaterAid recommends limiting showers to just 4 minutes and has even created a Spotify playlist of 4 minute songs to help you time it!
  • Retain ‘run-off’ water: Keep a large jug by the sink and every time you wash your hands or run a bowl to wash dishes, capture the water you would normally discard while waiting for the water to warm up. You can then use it for other things like filling the kettle, watering plants, or cooking.
  • Be more garden-savvy: Plants in the garden need watering in the summer but you can do this efficiently in a number of ways. Use a water butt to capture rainwater. Use a watering can rather than a hose. Leaves and bark in flower beds will help the soil to retain water, as will adding water beads (these are a great idea for hanging baskets where water will often run straight through). Low maintenance plants that thrive on less water will not only help conserve it but save you a job on dry days. As well as using run-off water on your plants, you can use any old water from the dog’s bowl or even the washing up water, as long as it’s not too greasy or has a lot of detergent in it.
  • Only run appliances when full: washing machines and dishwashers are generally very efficient these days but only run them with a full load to maximise efficiency as they will still use the same amount of water. If they have eco settings, use those.
  • Use water efficient gadgets: A Flushsaver in your toilet cistern or water efficient shower head can reduce the amount of water used in these everyday activities. They are usually inexpensive and sometimes even free from your water provider.
  • Save veggie water: while steaming vegetables is more efficient, if you boil them, save the water and use it for stock for gravies and soups. Why not freeze them in ice cube trays so you always have some when needed.

These measures may not seem like they will make much difference in isolation but if we all cut our consumption as much as we can, this would make a massive positive impact on the environment and on our water and energy bills.

We are also sharing lots of tips on our Facebook and Twitter profiles so follow those for even more ideas. If you need advice on water conservation and how we can help you with that, please contact us on 0800 032 6478 or send us a message.

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