From brushing teeth to buying new appliances, there are many ways to use a bit (or a lot) less water “indoors” while getting the job done well.
Easy saving tips
Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth, and run it at a low flow rate when on. This simple act will save litres of water every time you brush. Taps use around 6 litres of water a minute, so leaving the tap running for just 2 minutes a day adds up to 168 litres a fortnight - enough to fill 3 rubbish bags!
Use full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine whenever possible.
Put the plug in the sink when shaving or washing hands, dishes or vegetables, and run just enough water for what you're doing – try less-than half a sinkful for shaving or hand-washing.
Take shorter showers, shaving a minute from your daily shower can save up to 18 litres. Most mains-pressure showers use 9 to 18 litres of water every minute, so more than five minutes in the shower could be using more water than you'd need for a bath. If you want to soak, a partially filled bath uses less water than long showers. That extra minute in your daily shower can add up to 252L a fortnight - enough to fill a wheeli bin!
Don't pre-rinse dishes before they go in the dishwasher
Fill sinks and basins less full than usual
Recycle bath water on the garden - but only on plants that are not going to be eaten (i.e don't put greywater on your vegetable garden). Also, use your greywater immediately, don't store it. Storing greywater can cause disease causing organisms to increase, especially during hot weather.
Save the cold water to reuse when waiting for running water to warm up in the kitchen or bathroom
Check for and fix leaks A leaking toilet may not be obvious, but it can waste thousands of litres of water in a year. Even a slow drip from a tap – one drop every few seconds – could add up to around 28 litres every day. Over three months this can up to 2,500 litres - enough to fill a skip!
Test your toilet cistern for leaks by putting a few drops of food colouring in the cistern. If the food colouring appears in the toilet bowl before the toilet is flushed, you have a leak. (Tip: you may need to wait an hour or two for the food colouring to leak into the bowl). There are videos online on how to fix a leaking tap or toilet, but if you’re in any doubt about what to do, call a plumber.
Save water with single-flush toilets If you have a single-flush toilet cistern, try placing a one (or two) litre plastic bottle – filled with water and with the top on – in your cistern to reduce the amount of water needed for each flush. An average-sized household, could save 25 litres per day (two and a half buckets full) without reducing flush-effectiveness. Make sure that the bottle doesn't interfere with the flush mechanism. If flush-effectiveness is compromised, simply remove the bottle and try a smaller one. People have also used a brick in their single-flush toilet cistern to reduce the flow. Be aware that a brick could break and cause a blockage in the pipes.
Install dual-flush toilets If renovating your bathroom, install a 4.5 litre/3 litre or a 6 litre/3 litre dual-flush system. This allows you to use only as much water as needed. A dual-flush control device will save significant amounts of water on most types of toilet cistern.
Don't use your toilet as a rubbish bin. Flushing tissues, cigarette butts or left-over food down the toilet uses up to 11 litres per flush.
Buy water efficient
Choose a “feel-good” shower when upgrading, to save you $$$ on water heating. Check out Consumer's test panel findings for mains-pressure showers that felt good to use while saving four litres of water or more for every minute of use.
Install a shower flow-saver to your existing shower Many showerheads with mains-pressure water systems put out 12-18 litres per minute, when 9 litres per minute is plenty for a comfortable shower. Major hardware or plumbing shops stock flow-saver discs, which are easy to install and cost only a few dollars, to reduce the flow of water and reduces your heating bill.
Look for water-efficiency “star” rating stickers on new appliances, bathroom fittings and tap-ware when buying. The more WELS blue stars showing on the label, the more water-efficient an appliance, shower, toilet or tap is. There can be large differences in water use between products. For example, a water-efficient clothes washer can save around 80 litres of water per day – or eight full buckets – for an average household. A highly water-efficient toilet cistern and pan combination can save about 100 litres per day for an average household replacing a 12-litre single-flush toilet.
How much is your shower costing you?
Upper Hutt City Council and EECA have developed a calculator to estimate how much your shower is costing you.