#1 Improving your water efficiency
When it comes to water saving ideas around the home, there are two areas where we can focus our effort to achieve this.
Firstly, we can work on improving our habits and watch how much we use and secondly, we can implement more efficient way of using water.
During this article I will talk you through some ideas. Some I have gained through working in the plumbing industry and others I have earned from my research during writing this article.
Having access to water is easy for most of us in first world countries. So much so, we have become a culture of waste when it comes to water. Below are a few examples of common bad water habits:
- Letting the water heat up before washing your hands or having a shower.
- Letting the water run hot before filling a pan of it water so it heats up quicker.
- Over irrigating your garden
- Letting the kids play in the shower
The list could keep going but you see where I am going. Our bad habits are normal occurrences for most of us and without a conscious effort, nothing is going to change.
Back in 2007, Queenslanders were going through a drought period.
The local government tried to push and promote for everyone to use no more than 140 litres per day each. At the time we were averaging around 180 litre per person but after a successful marketing campaign from the local government it dropped down to around 130.
I remember doing simple things like having four-minute showers, catching the cold water in bucket from the shower and using it to flush the toilet managed to drop our house usage to around 100 litres per day.
The key incentive through this whole process was being mindful of water use. Getting into healthy water habits should be out target.
Areas for improvement
Tips to decrease your water usage:
- By following the old saying ” if it’s yellow let it mellow” could save you 3 litres per flush at least. The average person has 4 pee breaks per day, do the math!
- Make sure you have a 3/4.5 litre cistern and not an old 6 litre type
- Ensure your toilet is not leaking into the bowl which can be hard to spot.
- The easy way to tell if your toilet is leaking is by putting a piece of dry toilet paper at the back of the bowl and see if it absorbs any dripping water. A minor drip could waste hundreds of litres per year and a drip will only get worse over time. The good thing is, it is an easy inexpensive fix.
Hot water systems
Next time you need a hot water system, consider purchasing a continuous flow type. The benefit of this is that they do not have a temperature pressure relief valve or cold water expansion valve like storage hot water systems, so there is less daily water lost during the heat cycle.
Also, storage hot water system valves only have a product warranty of one year and will most probably need to be replaced once or twice during its life time and when you finally notice it leaking, it’s too late because you have most likely wasted thousands of litres of water. Thus is unless you check your cylinder daily.
If you are able to, locate your hot water unit close to the highest water user in the house (main bathroom etc), so the cold water which is wasted while you wait for the hot water to come through is kept to a minimum.
Finding out if you have a leak is quite easy, finding the leak can be the hard part.
Just before you go to bed write down the water meter reading and ensure no one in your house uses water through the night. When you wake, take another water meter reading. If they are different then you have leak.
The main areas for a leak are:
- Dripping tap
- Faulty hot water valve
- Underground or consealed leak
If you do a visual on the all the above ground fixtures and you can’t find a leak there, it’s a good chance it will be below ground. At this stage you could call in the professional to find and fix.
Washing machine/dishwasher settings and times
Take advantage of your machine settings. If the load is only small, use the ‘half load’ setting; or if the dishes/clothes aren’t overly dirty, use the ‘quick wash’. Not every load needs an ‘extra spin’.
Using these settings can potentially save you hundreds of litres of water per year.
A really great way to save water with your machine is to hook it into your rain water supply. The rain water can be run through a filter to ensure better quality of water and this helps you use free water and contribute to a greener earth.
In the middle of our Aussie summer, the temperatures can be stifling. This puts strain on our local water infrastructure due to evaporation of our reservoirs and lack of consistent rainfall.
We can help our local infrastructure by looking at some of the following areas:
- Rainwater harvesting
Install rainwater tanks so any captured rain can be used to water gardens, clean cars, wash clothes or even flush toilets.
Cost: Supply plus install $2000+ but great cost saving long term
One of the simplest ways to save water is to limit your time in the shower. Halving the average shower time of 7 minutes down to 3.5-4 minutes will greatly decrease water usage.
- Water evaporation
Thousands of litres of water is evaporated from your pool each year. All pools should be covered with pool covers and shade cloths if possible. Topping up the pool with rain water when possible can be done manually or through a pump.
Cost: $100+ and install yourself
- Harvesting grey water
This is only effective if you have a substantial garden or lawn area to play with.
Harvesting grey water means installing a small underground tank and pump somewhere close to your existing drainage. You then use this to capture water from your showers and basins and reuse to water your lawns, gardens etc.
As you can imagine, tens of thousands of litres of water can be saved annually with this method. If you are wanting to incorporate this method into your home, a licensed plumber should be used to install and set up the tank and irrigation. This ensures all safety precautions are considered and followed.
Cost: Estimate $3000+ but huge savings long-term
- Shower savers
Installing a shower saver will limit your flow rate to around 9 litres per minute. Without a flow restrictor, you will likely get around get 15+ litres per minute depending on your water pressure. If you install water savers in your showers and maintain similar shower lengths then again, you can save thousands of litres of water per year.
For example a 7 minute shower will use approx. 42 litres less per shower x 365 = 15,330 litres of water saving for just one person per year. A huge saving and normally quite cheap to purchase.
- Tap aerators
Like a shower saver, the tap aerator acts as a flow restrictor by limiting water through the mouth of the tap but also adds air to the process at the same time. This method reduces the flow to 6-9 litres per minute – Quite a significant percentage saving and usually quite cheap to purchase.
So considering all the above tips and tricks we have mentioned, with a small amount of time, money, and habit changes – you can make minor changes to your water fixtures and save tens of thousands of litres per year. Being water wise definitely makes you feel good, like you are doing your bit for Mother Nature!
We recommend booking a water wise inspection with your local plumber today. An inspection and certification will cost you approx. $100. The site inspection usually lasts about an hour which includes checking your home for water efficiency and providing you with a list of items that need to be fixed.
If you need any further assistance, feel free to reach out to Yates Plumbing and Gas. We are local Brisbane plumbers, with a passion for excellence. Our friendly qualified team can help you with all of your plumbing and gas needs.
If you require more information or would like to book our service, please email on [email protected] or call us on 0437 827 502