Considering we are well into a hot dry, summer here in Perth I decided to focus my weekly article for Conservation Council of Western Australia on the best ways to save water.
Here Are My Top 10 Tips to Save Water
1) Use less
This is the principle at the root of all things ‘lower impact’. Apply this to every aspect of your life – take shorter showers, use less pressure when you do, only wash your dishes once a day, turn the tap off while brushing your teeth and don’t fill your saucepans right to the top. Every time you use water think about ways that you could use less.
2) Catch me if you can…
A heavy-handed tap user can waste litres and litres of H20 every day. There are easy ways to stop this liquid gold literally going down the gurgler.
- Wash your dishes in a large stainless steel bowl in your sink. You can use the leftover water on your garden as long as you are using garden-safe dishwashing liquid or, better yet, make your own.
- Rinse your fruit and veg in a bowl of water. Then, if you are cooking them, use that water in your saucepan or steamer.
- Put a bucket at your feet while you shower to collect water. If you would prefer not do that, at least have it in there while you are waiting for the water to warm up.
- Don’t rinse dishes and cups under a fast-flowing tap. Keep a bowl of water next to the sink to use throughout the day (great for the workplace).
- When washing your face, use a small bowl instead of filling up the whole basin or using the running tap.
3) A Good toilet trick
On average, a single flush toilet uses around 12 litres of water per use. However, a four-star water efficient dual-flush toilet uses less than half this amount. So if you are installing a new toilet aim for one with a WELS rating, a smaller cistern, a flushing system toilet or all of the above.
If retrofitting isn’t an option you could try this handy tip – fill a soft drink container with some sand (to weigh it down), screw the lid back on the bottle and place it into the toilet tank. This will reduce the amount of water it takes to fill the cistern and therefore the amount that gets needlessly flushed away.
4) Switch to a water-efficient showerhead
This is one of those little retrofits that you can do even if you rent. The Water Corporation has a great incentive where you can swap up to two inefficient showerheads for efficient replacements absolutely free! If you rent make sure you check with your property manager before swapping – though I can’t imagine it being a problem. If you are not allowed to swap them you could always just buy a water saving showerhead that you take with you to each new rental. Just make sure you remember where you keep the old one!
5) Change your shower habits
How committed are you to saving water? After learning that 22% of total household water is used in the shower (plus heating which wastes power) I have decided that this is the next frontier for my household. The timer has been great and I have whittled my showers down to a maximum of two minutes, but now I will also try turning the water off while lathering hair or soap. If this is not really your thing, avoid doing things in the shower that can be done elsewhere, such as shaving or washing your face.
6) Wash settings save water, energy and money!
- Check to see if your washing machine has an ‘eco’ setting. This will vary on different machines. For some it will reduce the amount of water used in the rinse cycle and for others it will reduce from two rinse cycles to one.
- Manually set your water level to the lowest you can each time instead of letting the machine set automatically.
- Advance your time settings to a shorter (lighter) wash cycle where possible.
- Only wash when the machine is completely full and wash on cold to save energy.
- Avoid the permanent press cycle which uses more water on most machines.
7) Water-wise your garden
For existing gardens, ensure that you always apply a thick layer of mulch (5-10cms) around your plants roots to slow evaporation, reduce plant stress, protect your soil and reduce weeds. Only water during the coldest part of the day and pour the water directly over the root of the plant. Remember, less frequent deep soakings are better than lots of little sprays.
If you are planting new plants, choose drought resistant varieties and create a stunning native garden. A good rule of thumb is to look for plants with silvery leaves. The Water Corporation has this fantastic online resourcewhich helps you choose the best water-savvy plants for your region.
8) Cover your pool
If you have a pool, invest in a pool cover. The Water Corporation says that during summer, a cover can save up to 55 litres of water a day! Considering the popular Target 60 campaignsets a target of reducing your water use by 60 litres a day, a pool cover could just about get you over the line in one fell swoop.
9) Check for wasteful leaks
A leaky toilet can waste up to 25 litres of water every day! To find the leak put a few drops of food colouring into the tank and if colour appears in the bowl without flushing then there is a leak!
If you suspect any other leaks though, The Water Corporation again comes to the rescue with this guide on how to Seek A Leak, and what to do if you find one.
10) Change your diet
Amazingly an average meat eater’s diet uses between 3 and 15 times as much water as a plant-based diet every year, which can add up to approximately 5 million litres per year1. Abbatoir run-off and effluence (heavily associated with piggeries) can also play a critical role in polluting scarce freshwater sources. If, however, you or someone in your household is not willing to try a vegetarian or vegan diet you could possibly try just reducing your consumption of animal products. If you want to give it a go try Meat Free Mondays, a campaign created by legendary Beatle and animal rights advocate Paul McCartney. Good Luck!
While doing a bit of research I found this gorgeous French advert that the WWF released as part of its water saving campaign. Oh so cute…
If you are looking for even more ways to save water, I wrote this post which also has some simple tips that can help you save.