There are many good reasons to reduce your water usage around the home. Whether you want to live more sustainably, save money on your water bills or lower your impact on the environment. As the population grows and climate change makes rainfall less reliable, we all need to chip in to ensure the security of our water supply. If we each save a little, we save a lot.
From changing everyday habits to choosing water-efficient devices and appliances, there are lots of ways to make every drop count. Here are just a few tips to save water around the home, both inside and out.
Saving water inside
In the bathroom
You can save water in the bathroom by making a few simple changes that won’t cost a thing. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth and shaving is a great first step. Limiting your showering time to four minutes or even turning off the water when you are lathering up and don’t need the water flow are also easy changes to make.
Invest in a water saving shower head. They are relatively inexpensive and can save around 15 litres of water per minute. Water saving shower heads, or low flow shower heads, restrict the amount of water that passes through them. Older style shower heads use 15-25 litres of water per minute, whereas modern low flow ones use as little as 7.5 litres per minute.
In the kitchen
Modern dishwashers use less water than washing the dishes by hand. The average water consumption of a dishwasher is 13L compared to at least 20L (often more) used when washing the dishes by hand. You can also save water by not rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher. Most modern dishwashers can remove dried debris from dishes on a normal cycle, so there’s no need to rinse first.
If your taps are a long way from your hot water system, chances are you waste a lot of water waiting for the water to warm up. Consider using a container to catch the cold water, which you can use to water your plants, flush the toilet or wash your hands.
For a more elegant solution, you might consider a hot water recirculation system that intercepts the cold water before it goes out of the tap and pumps it through the cold water inlet and into the hot water tank. When you want hot water, you simply push the button to activate the system, and once the thermostat detects that the water is hot enough, the pump automatically switches off, you turn on the tap, and the hot water comes out.
In the laundry
Front loader washing machines tend to use significantly less water than top loader machines. They may be more expensive initially, but you will save money on your water bills, and you may be entitled to water retailer rebates.
Studies have shown that reusing your washing machine water in your garden is not great for the health of your garden, especially over the long term. Most laundry detergents are too high in sodium, salinity, and pH for lawns and gardens to flourish. You can, however, use the rinse water in your garden. Spread it over a wide area and keep away from your vegies and herbs.
Saving water outside
Washing the car
When washing your car at home, remember to clean it on the lawn if you have one or try to redirect the water runoff onto your garden using barriers.
If you are using a hose to wash your car, some states have a legal requirement to use a trigger nozzle to reduce water use. Alternatively, you can try using a low-flow, high-pressure car cleaner. These devices have been found to only use about 23 litres of water during the average car wash. They also help remove dirt, making the job even easier.
There are lots of benefits to installing a rainwater tank, and you don’t need to live in a high rainfall area to reap the rewards. The country’s driest state, South Australia, has the highest use of rainwater tanks in homes. More than half of all households have one, and for more than a third, it is their main source of drinking water.
Installing a rainwater tank allows you to harvest the rainwater that falls on your roof, reducing your reliance on mains water, and lowering your impact on the environment by reducing stormwater runoff. Rainwater is generally less salty than mains water which tastes nicer and is better for appliances and plants.
Watering the garden
To maximise absorption, be sure to water your garden early in the morning or later in the evening. Drip irrigation systems are preferable to pop-up or rain sprinklers because they deliver the water directly onto the soil at a slower rate, soaking the ground more efficiently. They also deliver the water directly to the base of the plant where it is needed most. An automatic timer is an excellent investment to ensure the watering system turns off and your garden gets watered regularly without wasting water.