Given that thousands of us Brits were left without water recently, as the big thaw burst pipes and we were told to only use "essential" water, it's always worth knowing how to save on your water usage at home. It's good for your wallet if you're on a meter, and it's also good for the environment, as cleaning waste water and heating water both use a lot of energy. In the spirit of World Water Day on 22 March, here are nine tips that are actually doable and don't ruin quality of life (no "if it's yellow, let it mellow" here!). Keep the water saving going by taking a look at ways to shorten your shower and how to reuse your rice water on your hair, too.
1. Turn Off the Tap
Let's start with some stats: in the UK, we each use an average of 150 litres of water every day. You can make a dent in that figure with something as simple as turning off the tap when you're brushing your teeth or washing your hands. Six litres of water comes out of the tap every minute, so that adds up.
2. Fix Those Leaks
A dripping tap might not seem like much waste, but it can add up to 15 litres of water a day. That's 5,500 litres a year. Getting any leaks fixed can make a big difference. Other than seeing or hearing a leak, you'll also get an idea that there's one lurking somewhere if your water bill spikes suddenly.
3. Only Boil What You Need
Fill your kettle with just enough water for the cups of tea or coffee you want to make. Using only as much as you need will stop you having to pour all that unused water down the sink every time you make a fresh brew. It'll also save on your electricity bill: your kettle may be small, but it's mighty and uses a surprisingly large amount of power with each boil.
4. Wait For a Full Load
In that spirit of only using what you need, only switch on the washing machine or dishwasher when you have a full load. If you need clean laundry sooner, consider teaming up with your housemates to wash your things together.
5. Add Cool Gadgets
If you're a gadget fan, you'll love investing a few pounds in products that can reduce your overall use, like the Ecostar Tap Aerator Swivel. It reduces the amount of water that comes out of your taps by combining it with air (and making it all lovely and bubbly in the process). You can also use efficient aerated shower heads. As for the toilet, you can get a cistern displacement device from your water provider to reduce the amount of water used in each flush. If you don't want to spend your own cash, try contacting your water supplier to see if they provide these items for free. Thames Water, for example, has a number of gadgets on offer to its customers.
6. Invest in Water-Efficient Replacements
When the time comes to actually replace household appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and toilets, you could choose water-efficient goods like low-flow toilets and Water Sense-rated dishwashers and washing machines. For more information, visit Waterwise.
7. Let It Rain
If you've got plants or a lawn to water, or a car or bike to wash, install a water butt under a drainpipe and you could use its 5,000 litres of harvested rainwater each year to keep your garden green and your wheels clean. Also, opt for a watering can rather than a hosepipe to reduce your outdoor usage — a hosepipe can use up to a massive 1,000 litres of water per hour.
8. Reuse It
There's water that usually goes down the drain that can be collected for other purposes. While you're waiting for the water to get hot for your shower, place a bucket under the flow, then use it for watering the plants or flushing the toilet. The water you've cooked your pasta in can be cooled and used to water your plants, too.
If you're running the tap for ages each time to get a glass of cold water to drink, fill a jug and keep it in the fridge so that you've got an instant cool glass without so much waste.