Don’t waste water!
While this country generally receives sufficient rain, especially in winter, it costs money to purify it, and in summer droughts are possible. Indeed the Wildlife Trusts website reports that ‘many larger rivers are experiencing flows of less than a quarter of what they should be in 2005, with reservoirs similarly affected’. One effect of climate change is that rainfall may become more unpredictable, summers drier and droughts more frequent. Over-abstraction also can damage wetland habitats, valuable for wildlife, by lowering water levels and causing drying out. The archived Environment Agency website has information on water resources and how to save water.
Toilets are one of the major users of water in the home (typically up to 30 – 40% of total household water use). Older toilets used 9 litres per flush though those installed since 1993 should be more water efficient, using 6 litres or less. A simple way to reduce the amount of water toilets use is to put a Save-a-flush sachet or Hippo the Water Saver into the toilet cistern. Save-a-flush sachets and the similar Water Hog reduce the amount of water per flush by one litre, the Hippo by three litres, making it more suitable for larger cisterns. Water saving devices like these are available free from many local water companies. Variflush is an adaptor which enables users to select minimum, medium or maximum flush. The InterflushTM is a kit which enables one to vary the amount of water used when flushing as it only flushes when the handle is held down, releasing the handle stops the flush. If you are considering replacing the toilet there are several models available which use less than 5 litres to flush. Ultra-efficient toilets and urinals, specifically designed to operate effectively at low flush volumes are available from The Green Building Store and Construction Resources.
Tap Magic is a device that fits into the outlet of the tap and can reduce water wastage by up to 70% but also enables you to have the normal full flow. The Green Building Store and the Green Shop sell various water saving taps while spray taps generally use less water. If you are replacing appliances which use water look for water-efficient ones.
Construction Resources have information on rainwater harvesting using underground tanks to collect rainwater for use in flushing toilets, cleaning and gardening, while Rainharvesting Systems Ltd supplies all the components required for rainwater harvesting systems for domestic or commercial use.
Watering gardens can use lots of water. A water butt is a good way of saving water enabling one to use rainwater instead of tap water for the garden. Several are available, some with devices to prevent overflowing, and some made out of recycled containers or plastics. The Natural Collection sell a Bath Water Diverter which diverts used water from the shower/bath to a water butt for later use in your garden. Devices to divert water from downpipes into a water butt are also available. The Green Choices gardening section can provide more ideas and most water authorities provide hints on saving water. Centre for Alternative Technology tipsheets include ‘water conservation in the home’ and ‘making use of grey water in the garden’. The list of tipsheets can be found under ‘CAT titles’. More ideas are in the Hints and Tips at the end of this section.