Hosepipes use 1,000 litres of water per hour, the equivalent of more than 12 baths.
Hosepipe bans exist as both a way of reducing water waste, but also to nudge people to reduce their consumption and to re-use as much water as possible. Here’s how to do that.
1. Shorter showers
The number one thing most people can do to save water is avoid baths and spend less time showering. The average showerhead uses 12 litres of water per minute so showers can waste hundreds of litres of water. Four minutes is a good time to aim for. Waterwise has a Spotify playlist of four-minute tunes to help you keep time.
2. Run the tap less frequently
Use a bowl in the sink when washing fruit, vegetables of dishes. You can then use the waste water to water your plants. Rather than running the tap until it’s cold, fill a jug of water and put it in the fridge for when you want cold water. Turn off the tap when you clean your teeth or shave. A running tap uses up to six litres of water a minute.
3. Use machines more mindfully
Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or your dishwasher.
4. Contact your water company
Ask it what it can offer. Many water companies offer free water-saving equipment, including aerator fittings and showerheads that you can fit into taps to reduce water consumption but not pressure. You might also be able to claim a cistern displacement device, a bag filled with crystals that expand in the cistern and save 1.2 litres of water when you flush the toilet. Both items are also easy to find at home stores for a few pounds apiece.
5. Change your habits
If everyone uses their taps at the same time during a hosepipe ban it lowers the water pressure, affecting how much water can make it to houses. So using water at non-peak periods – not in the mornings and evenings – will help improve the water pressure for the whole of your area.
6. Garden more efficiently
It may look parched but grass is really resilient; it doesn’t need watering as it’ll bounce back as soon as we have some rain. When it comes to flowers, use a watering can and water either early morning or in the evening to avoid evaporation. If you’re washing dishes by hand, use an eco-friendly detergent and you can re-use the water on your plants.
7. Save a flush
Another way to re-use dish water is to pour it down your toilet to flush without having to draw in new water. And when it comes to the toilet, it pays to know your buttons: small and big buttons don’t necessarily correlate with small and big flushes, so check which is which. This can save between three and nine litres of water per flush.
8. Sort your leaks
Check for leaks and get them fixed. Late at night, get a piece of tissue and stick it at the back of the toilet pan. If the tissue has got washed into the toilet bowl overnight, that means you have a leak. Fixing leaks can save thousands of litres of water over a year.
Stephanie Hurry is head of water efficiency engagement at Waterwise, a not-for-profit organisation that offers advice and guidance to people to help them use less water.