20 simple changes Saving water
This article, 20 simple changes, was last updated on 19 March 2008 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Home & garden articles.
Install a water meter and save water
Most households in England, Scotland and Wales are entitled to a free meter from their water company.
Meters work by recording and billing you for the actual amount of water you use, rather than a flat charge based on the value of your property. According to Ofwat trials, the average reduction in water usage is 11% when a meter is installed.
The financial benefits of installing a water meter depend on what you pay now, the number of people in your house and how much water you use.
To calculate how much you'd save by installing a water meter, use the industry watchdog Consumer Council for Water’s online water meter calculator.
Save water by turning off taps
Don't leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your hands. This can waste up to five litres of water per minute.
One of the simplest ways to save water around the house is to only use what you need. This not only applies when you’re at the sink but elsewhere in the home when using water.
Turning off the shower while you lather or shave can save several litres of water each time you wash. In the kitchen, save water by washing vegetables and fruit in a bowl rather than under a running tap and the leftover water can be used for watering house plants.
See our Guide to using less water for more tips for bathroom water saving.
Reduce your toilet flush
Old toilet cisterns can use as much as nine litres of clean water every flush. Save water by placing a ‘save-a-flush’ or ‘hippo’ in the cistern.
Water is a precious resource especially as drought conditions become more frequent. Saving water also saves energy as less power is required to pump it through the system.
There’s a range of inexpensive gadgets available designed to help you save water each time you flush.
Water saving cistern devices such as the Hippo Water Saver are placed in the cistern to reduce the amount of water needed to fill the tank, while flush-modifying devices like the Interflush let users reduce the amount of water released each flush.
Find out more about water saving gadgets in our Guide to using less water.
Plug leaks to save water
Keeping on top of household plumbing not only saves water but also reduces the likelihood of a damaging leak or flood.
Fix dripping taps, which can waste 12 to 20 litres of water a day. New washers cost only a few pence but will save you money if your water is metered.
Ensure your water pipes and external taps are lagged in time for the cold winter months. If they burst they'll waste a great deal of water.
Research carried out on behalf of Halifax Home Insurance last year found that Britons pay more than £1.8 billion per year to repair the damage caused by leaking water in their homes.
You can find local tradesman recommendations from other Which? members at Which? Local.