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At Home with (lots and lots of) Water

water splashing

Our At Home with Water report, out today, provides a very clear picture of a nation that loves its water. But it’s a love affair that’s coming back to bite us.

By analysing the detailed information on water-using behaviours reported by over one hundred thousand users of our online Water Energy Calculator we estimate that each person uses a wince-inducing quantity of water each day: 142 litres.

The biggest single offender in the home, using over two billion litres of water per day, is now the shower. Then again, every day enough water to fill 300,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools is going down the loo, too.

There were some surprising findings when it comes to water-use behaviours. 87 per cent are keeping their showers under 10 minutes (with the average coming in at 7 and a half minutes). A decent effort in bathrooms across the UK, but there’s clearly a little bit more effort that could be put in – especially considering the headline prominence of showering in home water use. After all, cutting just a minute off shower times would save UK households £215 million a year on energy bills.

Disappointing news is that three-quarters boil more water than they need when they put on a cuppa. On the other hand, 86 per cent are using a bowl when they wash the dishes; stopping hot water leaving the building after barely brushing a plate.

Some positive physical measures are gaining traction too, slowly but surely.  25 per cent of suitable households reported already having an eco-showerhead installed, which is a start, but nowhere near where it could be for what is a cheap way to save significant amounts on bills.  On the toilet front, things are looking better, with four in ten homes testifying to a dual-flush device.

While we’re here, a note about the data we used. Between June 2010 and December 2012, well over 100,000 people completed our Water Energy Calculator, with around 86,000 of these contributing directly to the findings of the report. Users were invited to self-report on their water-using behaviours in the home – what devices they use, how often, and in what way.

In short, this is the largest in-depth snapshot of domestic water use available in the UK today. It continues the work of the Energy Saving Trust Foundation, which aims to produce pioneering research to add deeper knowledge to the debate around climate change, fuel bills and energy security, and support the free, impartial advice we give to consumers.

With the attention given to water historically lagging behind other areas like energy efficiency and renewables, we’re pleased to be able to put such a contemporary snapshot out there that we’re sure will be of keen interest to householders, industry and beyond. Thanks are due to our partners Defra, P&G, Thames Water, Consumer Council for Water and Save Water Save Money.

For a full dive into the detail, the report is available, as ever, on our website.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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