Each household in the UK uses on average around 360 litres each day. But about 21 per cent of a typical gas heated household's heating bill is from heating the water for showers, baths and hot water from the tap. This is on average about £140 a year.
Saving water can reduce your water bill (if you’re on a water meter), reduce your energy use and bills, reduce the impact on your local environment, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using less energy to pump, heat and treat the water.
When we use water, we are often using energy, mostly to heat the water. Generating energy produces carbon dioxide emissions which is one of the main greenhouse gases causing climate change. Heating water for use in our homes makes up about 4 per cent of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions.
No-one likes to waste water. However, many of us don't realise that water usage contributes to energy bills. Simple water use changes can save you money.
In most homes, the hot water is supplied by the main central heating boiler, either directly if it is a combi boiler, or from a hot water cylinder. Often there will be an electric immersion heater in the cylinder as well.
Tip – use the boiler to heat the water, even in the summer. The immersion heater will be more expensive, and should only be used as an emergency back-up.
In some homes, particularly those with electric storage heaters, water can only be heated by immersion heater. There may be two immersions, one in the top of the cylinder and one in the bottom. Usually the bottom heater comes on at night, and heats the whole cylinder using cheap off-peak electricity. The top heater is used to provide additional hot water during the day if required, using expensive peak rate electricity.
Tip – do not leave a peak rate immersion heater on all day and all night. You will waste a lot of money keeping water hot when you don’t need it.
If you have a combi boiler, you may not be able to fit solar water heating, but you may be able to fit a Passive Flue Gas Heat Recovery Device (PFGHRD). This recovers additional heat from the boiler’s flue gases and uses it specifically to heat the hot water supply.
New water-efficient showerheads use technology that can produce water flows that feel far higher than they actually are - an easy way to save both water and energy. They are most effective on power and mixer showers with a high flow rate. You should not attach a low flow showerhead to an electric shower as this could cause possible damage to your shower unit.
A standard bath has a capacity of around 80 litres, so even when it’s less than half full it uses a lot of water. If you’re buying a new bath, look for one with a lower capacity. Of course, you can always save water and money by taking a quick shower instead of a bath.
Looking to replace water-using appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines? Look for products with the new Water Efficient Product Label and/or the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark as these models can help you to save water, energy and money.
Taps with a low flow rate can be fitted to bathroom and kitchen sinks. Click point taps are better for kitchen sink taps; aerated or regulated flow taps are more suitable for a bathroom sink; but all work very well.
If you’re not replacing taps or shower units, you can still save water by fitting flow regulators to showers and aerators to taps. Flow devices are easy to install. They often contain precision-made holes, filters or flow aerators to regulate the flow of water without changing how it feels to you.
If you have an electric shower you should not fit a flow regulator as this could cause possible damage to your shower unit.
To help you identify products that are water efficient, the Bathroom Manufacturers Association has a Water Efficiency Products Labelling Scheme. To identify award-winning water-efficient products, look for the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark.
If everybody in your family of four replaces one bath a week with a five-minute shower, you can save up to £20 a year on gas bills and up to £25 on water bills (if you have a water meter).
If a family of four replace their inefficient shower head with a water-efficient one they could save around £65 off their gas bills and around £100 off their water bills (if they have a water meter) each year. That’s a total saving of around £165.
A running tap wastes more than six litres of water a minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face. Use cold water if you don't need hot.
A dripping tap can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year, so make sure your taps are properly turned off and change washers promptly when taps start to drip.
Try to avoid wasting water from running taps while waiting for hot water.
Make sure that dishwashers and washing machines are full before you use them, and always use the most efficient water and energy settings.
Using a sink of water to wash up twice a day rather than having the hot tap running could save money on your gas bill and about £30 on your water bill (if you have a water meter). If you need to rinse utensils or wash vegetables, use cold water if possible and don't leave the tap running.