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How to save water around the home

From eco shower heads and fixing leaking toilets to harvesting rainwater, find out how to save water in your bathroom, kitchen and garden

How to save water around the home

When the news is full of stories about heavy rain and flooding, you might question why it’s important to save water. But limiting the amount of water you use at home will greatly help to reduce environmental damage.

Population growth, rising global temperatures and the ensuing droughts and wildfires is making water security around the world increasingly precarious, and chemically treated waste water continually harms the environment.

Reducing your water usage will play a part in reducing this environmental damage, and there are significant savings to be made every month if your property is on a water meter.

Saving water also helps to save energy. The pumping and purification processes to get clean water to your house require lots of electricity, and even more is used to heat water for showering, cleaning and household appliances.

Read on to discover how to save water in your bathroom, kitchen and garden, see the best eco-friendly appliances, and read expert advice from Tom Reynolds, chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) on reducing water usage.


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Bathroom

Around two thirds of household water is used in the bathroom, and of this over a third is used for showering and bathing.

To tackle these heavy usage areas, we researched eco showerheads and spoke to Tom Reynolds of the BMA to find out what bathroom manufacturers are doing to help.

Install an eco shower head

showerhead with water coming out

You might think that taking a shower instead of a bath is a simple way to cut down your water usage. However, some powerful showers use more water in five minutes than filling a bath would.

How much water you use when showering will be determined by the type of shower and shower head you have installed, as well as how long you spend showering.

To reduce water use you can install an ‘eco shower head’ that is designed to cut down your shower’s water consumption by restricting and managing the water spray and flow. This relatively simple swap should greatly reduce your household water usage.

Our eco shower heads buying guide explains all the different types of shower head that are available, and our eco shower head top picks give detailed descriptions and pros and cons for each product.

Fix leaks, particularly in toilets

plumber fixing kitchen sink

Any leak from appliances or pipes is going to waste vast quantities of water, but something that often gets overlooked is leaking toilets.

Thames Water estimates that a trickling leak in your toilet could waste up to 200 litres of water a day. Major leaks, known as rippling or flowing, could waste up to 600 and 8,000 litres a day respectively.

‘Many people may not realise they have a leak in their toilet because it does not look like a pool of water on your bathroom floor,’ says Tom Reynolds.

‘Routine maintenance will help prevent leaks, and when a leak is spotted, it can usually be repaired with some simple and inexpensive solutions.’

The BMA is running a Get Lavvy Savvy campaign to encourage and educate people about toilet maintenance and the ease of fixing and preventing leaks.

It aims to demystify toilet maintenance and provides tips on how to spot a leak and check your toilet’s seals, diaphragms, inlet and outlet values.

However, bathroom manufacturers also offer products that will make your bathroom more sustainable.

Tom said: ‘Bathroom manufacturers are in a continuous cycle of product development and improvement. For example, dual-flush valves give the option of a lower flush volume, and they help to reduce the amount of water we are using with our toilets.’

If you have any leaks or water issues that require professional help, call a Which? Trusted Trader plumber to ensure you’ll be paying for good quality work.

Kitchen

The kitchen offers plenty of opportunities to save water when using specific appliances, but if you want to improve the fitted parts of your kitchen, check out our research on the best and worst kitchen brands.

Use your dishwasher efficiently

a dishwasher being loaded

It may seem counterintuitive, but consider using your dishwasher more often. Most dishwashers use between nine and 10 litres of water per load, which our research shows is significantly better for water efficiency than handwashing.

Also keep in mind that ‘half-load’ settings could still use as much as 90% of the water and energy of a full load wash, so it’s best to use your dishwasher when it’s at full capacity.

If you don’t have a dishwasher or you need a new one, check out our dishwasher reviews and look for dishwashers rated as Eco Buys, as they use less water than the non-Eco Buy options.

Our dishwasher programs explained guide also offers details on how to use eco settings to program your machine to use less water.

Make full use of a washing machine cycle

Only using your washing machine when it’s full is an easy way to cut down your water usage, as this will make the most of running a cycle. You will also save money on your energy bills as you’ll be using it less frequently.

For each washing machine we test, we monitor how much energy and water they use per cycle. We’ve uncovered A+++ rated machines that cost more to run (and use more water) than A+ models.

If you need a new washing machine, have a look at our washing machine reviews, which can also guide you to water-efficient Eco Buy options.

Don’t overfill your kettle

pouring water out of a kettle

The first Which? magazines back in the late 1950s featured tests and reviews of electric kettles. Testing this essential kitchen equipment is as important now as it was then, and there are a range of Eco Buys available to help limit water wastage.

For example, being able to boil small amounts of water at a time is important. If a kettle does not have a one-cup marker to guide usage, it suffers an immediate penalty in our tests.

Check out the top five best kettles for 2021, and remember to only fill the kettle with as much water as you are going to use to reduce water waste.

Garden

The garden also provides opportunities for saving water, particularly if you have an expansive lawn and lots of plants to water.

Harvest rainwater with a water butt

The most common and effective way to catch and store rainwater for later use is by installing a water butt in your garden.

The water butt will collect and store water from your gutters and drainpipes, which you can then use to water your grass and plants during times of lower rainfall.

Stop using a hose or sprinkler

Keep your grass green and healthy by filling a watering can (preferably from a water butt) instead of using large amounts of water from a hose or sprinkler system.

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