10 Tips for Saving Water
These days almost everything keeps getting more and more expensive. When facing inflation, it is important to work on good habits which help to save money easily. In this text, we advise how to reduce our water bills without great effort.
Access to drinking water is what we usually take for granted. Freshwater resources, however, are very limited. Both on a global scale and, in particular, on our local scale. CEE countries on average rank somewhere around the middle of the European Union in terms of internal renewable water resources rankings. And although water shortages may still seem a bit abstract, during the summer they are already affecting many regions.
Source: World Resources Institute, Projected water shortages in 2040
Saving water is therefore in everyone's best interest. Apart from the environment, however, economic factors can also make a really good motivation.
Inflation affects almost everyone. With the euro area annual inflation rate standing at 10.6% in October 2022, rethinking our water usage might represent an opportunity to save money and better utilize existing resources.
We have already written about how to save on heating and energy (also without major investments), transportation, or groceries in our blog. However, shrinking household budgets call for spending cuts in more than just the most obvious categories.
Today, we will therefore look at how, through small investments and good habits, we can reduce our water bills.
1. Turn Off the Tap
Whenever you’re not using the water flow - turn it off. It's a must. On the right scale, this simple habit can save many liters of water.
It is most often forgotten when brushing our teeth. The time between wetting the toothbrush and rinsing the mouth may seem so short to us that - in our minds only, of course - there’s no need to turn the water off and on again in between. In fact, this way we are wasting a significant amount of it.
Think also about other situations when you are unnecessarily leaving the water running. This could include, for example, showering, hand washing, washing up, or cooking (e.g., washing fruit or pouring cool water over hot pasta).
2. Fix Dripping Taps and Leaking Flushes
Appliance maintenance is what we often forget about. We also underestimate its importance - which can be surprising.
Does a drop of water fall from your tap occasionally? Such a thing is easy to ignore even for months. And while it may seem like nothing serious, over the course of a year dripping taps can increase our water consumption by up to... several thousand liters!
A leaking toilet flush can cause similar or even greater problems. Be vigilant, and if you find a defect, have it repaired right away. In addition to the flushes and taps, look out for potential cracks in gaskets or stoned aerators. And if you're planning a long trip, turn off the water valve beforehand ;)
3. Choose a Shower
A warm bath can be quite rewarding after a hard day, especially in winter when it's freezing outside. On a daily basis, however, try to opt for a quick shower. During a shower that lasts five minutes, you will use on average more than three times less water than you would need to fill a bathtub. And if you do allow yourself a bath, consider whether - instead of a full tub - it might be worth filling it to just a few centimeters.
Do not also forget about turning the tap off when you don't need it (see point one): when soaping your body, washing your head, or waiting for your hair conditioner to work.
4. Wash the Dishes Wisely
It’s quite easy to waste water when washing dishes, so try to do it more efficiently. How? The answer that comes to our minds first is the dishwasher. But is it really the best solution?
A typical dishwasher usually uses more than three times less water than you would need when washing by hand while drawing cold water from the system (which it heats in-house), which also results in lower costs. However, if we also take into account electricity consumption, the costs generally turn out to be more or less even.
And although dishwashers lead the way in most online comparisons, the factor tipping the scales in favor of this option is... the cost of time spent on washing by hand. For busy people, this is certainly an important factor, although, with electricity prices set to rise, it is worth reconsidering the costs and benefits.
Also, not everyone can afford to buy a dishwasher - often not only because of the initial expense but also due to a lack of space and conditions (in a rented flat, for example). So, if you don't have a dishwasher or plan to refrain from using one, try handwashing your dishes.
If your sink has two compartments, fill one with warm water and detergent and the other with cooler, detergent-free water. First, soak the dirty dishes in the first one, wash them thoroughly, then rinse them in the second of the compartments and put them on the dryer.
Is your sink a single-compartment sink? Don't worry. Wash your dishes with detergent first and then rinse them all in one go. This will save you both a lot of time and money.
5. Optimize the Use of Appliances
When it comes to appliances, washing machines and dishwashers are those that consume the greatest amount of water in our homes. While it seems impossible to avoid using them (especially the first one), you might want to optimize the way you use them. So how to do it?
Firstly, load to the maximum capacity. If you need a white T-shirt for the next day, you may be tempted to throw two or three garments of a similar color into the drum of the washing machine and "get it over with". However, this will unnecessarily use practically the same amount of water and electricity that would be enough for washing half of a basket of laundry ;)
Try to plan your laundry in advance so that the drum of the washing machine is always as full as possible. Before starting the washing machine, look carefully at the clothes and other textiles you have taken out of the wardrobe (e.g. towels) and consider whether they need freshening up as well. Consider whether you can wash some of your clothes together (but be careful with this one - white shirts and red socks may not be the best combination). And if you only need one lightly soiled blouse the next day - consider washing it by hand.
Likewise, with the dishwasher - there's no point in putting it in only half full. It's better to wait until it's full to the brim.
6. Use ECO Modes
When discussing household appliances, there's one more thing worth looking at. Most of the appliances on the market have been equipped with various operating modes. Although the options vary from model to model, almost every modern appliance has an ECO mode. These programs are designed to be more environmentally friendly, and they save water and energy - which is better for your wallet.
Planning to buy a new domestic appliance? Make sure to pay attention to its water and energy consumption parameters. Surcharging for a more resource-efficient model is often an investment that will pay for itself in years to come.
7. Reduce Water Pressure
When we turn the water on, we often automatically do so to the very end, thereby setting the maximum pressure. Quite unnecessarily.
For most activities, a much slower flow of water will suffice, and you will use far less water. So, it is worth getting into the habit of consciously reducing the pressure in the tap. We can also help ourselves by installing aerators (tap water flow limiters) at home, which we will discuss later in this article.
8. Reuse Water
Another patent for saving water is to collect it and reuse it.
Do you have a balcony or live in a house with a garden? Collect rainwater and use it to water your flowers or wash your car or bike. There are even special systems already in place that allow you to filter rainwater efficiently and then feed it to your household appliances or toilet.
And if you have no way of collecting rainwater, you can water your flowers with water left from cooking. The water collected in a bowl after washing fruit or slightly dirty dishes can be used for mopping the floor. Be creative!
9. Install Helpful Devices
If you want to use water efficiently, it is worth taking advantage of technological innovations available on the market often at a very decent price.
One such device is the aerator or tap water flow restrictor. It is an inexpensive device that aerates the flowing water, increasing its volume and saving up to 60% of water consumption.
It's also worth considering installing a dual flush cistern, the economical option of which uses half as much water as the classic version.
If you are still using taps, if possible, get a single-lever mixer, which allows you to both stop the flow of water immediately and adjust the right temperature more quickly. For a more modern option, you may also want to consider a touchless faucet with a motion sensor, although this is certainly a more expensive solution.
10. Drink Tap Water
Do you want to save water? Whether your motivation is the protection of the environment or saving money, drinking water is also worth mentioning here.
Awareness of how harmful sweetened drinks can be to health has already become widespread across Europe. More and more people are consciously choosing still water to satisfy their thirst.
Unfortunately, many Europeans still buy bottled mineral water. And that's a mistake. Both when it comes to the environment, our health, and our wallets. If we buy water in a supermarket, we are most likely to choose one in a plastic bottle. Meanwhile, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 of these contain microplastics, which get into our bodies this way.
There is probably no need to write much about the negative health effects of this. Add to this the enormous environmental cost of the very production of plastic bottles and their subsequent storage - a plastic bottle usually serves us for no more than a few hours but can decompose for up to a millennium.
And if you are not convinced by these arguments, let's look at the figures. Bottled water prices vary from brand to brand, but let's assume that instead of a neighborhood deli, we buy it in a cheap supermarket, paying 1 EUR for a 1.5-liter bottle. Not much? Probably. However, over the course of a year, drinking one such bottle a day already adds up to more than 350 EUR.
Meanwhile, the simplest and much cheaper solution is perhaps within our reach. In most European cities- especially the largest ones - the water flowing in the tap is drinkable and has been recommended for daily consumption.
If you want to make sure that the water flowing from your tap is also fit for purpose, be sure to take a look at the website of your local waterworks. And if you are one of the - fortunately, increasingly few - unlucky people whose water quality is still not ideal, consider using the popular filters for so-called "tap water".
And what are your water-saving tips? If you know any that we haven't mentioned in this article, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you want to know more ways to save water, take a look at our previous blog articles.