A few years ago it used to be only the ardent environmentalists who were bothered about their impact on the planet and worried about issues such as global warming. Nowadays though most of us consider how many resources we are using, even if it is only in terms of reducing our energy bills and saving cash. There has been a huge emphasis on insulation and reducing the money we spend on gas and electricity, but by making changes to the way we use water, we can also reduce our impact on the environment and save money.
A rainwater harvesting system collects the rain water which lands on your roof, stores it, and then allows you to use it for jobs around the house such as flushing the loo, washing the car or watering the garden. There are a few different ways of implementing a rainwater harvesting system, and the most costly option is to install underground tanks in the garden with a network of pumps and pipes around the house. Tank sizes range from 1,600 litres to a massive 10,000 litres and with so much choice it is essential to get professional advice on the system which best matches your family’s needs. On the most simple level, installing a water butt and using the water to water your plants in summer or clean your car is doing your bit for the planet.
Water Efficient Toilets
30% of the water used in your home is down to flushing the toilet, and if you have an old style toilet you are using 13 litres of water each and every time you press the handle. Modern toilets often have a dual flush with differently sized buttons, and switching to one of these can save two thirds of the water each time you flush. A new dual flush toilet can cost as little as £60, and the savings on your water bill means it will pay for itself in no time. If you don’t want to replace your entire toilet, consider installing a hippo bag in the cistern, which allows you to save 2 to 3 litres every time you flush.
We all know that showers are better for the planet than baths, but you can cut consumption even further by installing a water saving shower head. Apart from saving water, the major benefit of these types of shower head is that you really don’t notice that the flow of water is less than through your normal shower. They work by adding air into the stream of water coming from the shower, which gives the feeling of a power shower without the expense. An eco-friendly shower head costs from £35, and can be easily installed onto your existing shower system in most cases.
Kettles use a huge amount of energy to power them, and every time we boil too much water for our cuppa we are wasting both fuel and water. An eco kettle works by measuring exactly the amount of water needed for a single cup of tea or coffee and just boiling that, so there is no extra hot water wasted and you have the perfect amount. If you are guilty of filling the kettle to the brim when you don’t really need to, an eco kettle should be first on your list of things to replace.
Washing machines on the market vary enormously in the amount of water they use on a standard cycle. Tests by Which? magazine found that the most efficient machines use 33 litres for a standard load whereas the least efficient use 72 litres. The amount of water used varies massively even between machines with the same energy rating, so check out the performance carefully on the energy label on the machine before making a purchase. Always use your machine on a full load, and resist the temptation to run pre-wash or extra rinse programmes unless absolutely necessary as these will just use even more water than the standard cycle. Use the cottons cycle in your machine which uses 50% less water than a delicate or synthetic cycle, and turn the temperature down to save a bit on your energy bill too.