The UK has less available water per person than most other European countries. London is drier than Istanbul, and the South East of England has less water available per person than the Sudan and Syria. The energy used to pump, treat and heat the water for the average family produces more carbon equivalent than a return flight from London to New York.
The average Briton really consumes over 3400 litres every day! This amount includes the water we use daily in our homes, but it also includes the amount embedded in all that we consume. Here are a few tips to help you save water, and money if your property is on a water meter.
A running tap wastes 6 litres of water a minute. If everyone in the UK turned the tap off when they brush their teeth we would enough water to supply the combined populations of Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and Sheffield for a whole day.
A dripping tap wastes at least 5,500 litres of water a year: that's enough water wasted to fill a paddling pool every week for the whole summer. Mending your dripping tap washer could save you over £18 a year. Dripping taps also cause additional wear and tear on washers.
An unnecessary flush uses another cistern full of water. Put your tissues cotton wool balls in your dustbin rather than down the toilet. If everyone in the UK who currently uses their toilet as a dustbin, stopped doing this, we would save 27 million litres of water a week – that’s enough to supply the populations of York or Portsmouth for one day.
This saves new water being poured into the plants and many plants actually prefer it.
These can be obtained free of charge from your water company and displaces water in your cistern so that the volume of water in your flush is reduced by between 1 – 3 litres.
Hand-washing dishes typically uses about 63 litres per session; if those dishes are rinsed off under a running tap the total water used averages 150 litres-in comparison, a modern dishwasher can use as little as 15 litres of water per cycle. But make sure you fill the dishwasher or you'll be wasting even more than if you were to wash up by hand.
We all love our gardens, but sprinklers can use as much as 1,000 litres of water per hour - that's more than a family of four can use in a whole day. Using your sprinkler early in the morning or late in the evening will mean less water will evaporate from your garden and more will get to the roots, where you actually want it to go.
Your hosepipe can spew as much as 18 litres of water a minute. By using a watering can in your garden you can significantly reduce the amount of water wasted; or consider fitting it with a trigger gun to control the flow (although during a hosepipe ban you will need to use a watering can).
Your roof collects about 85,000 litres of rain each year which then just runs straight into the sewers. This could fill 450 water butts with free water: you could water your garden, your houseplants, or wash your car for free! To get a butt, call your local water company.
Mulching is one of the greatest things you can do for your garden. Mulches such as pebbles, gravel, cocoa shell, chipped bark, and grass clippings should be applied as a five to eight centimetre layer; but do avoid mulching too close to plant stems as this can lead to rotting in winter. Mulching will not only keep away water-loving weeds, but it will also keep the soil cool, decrease evaporation, and reduce soil compaction.