Water Saving Tips in and Around the Home
Taking a responsible approach to water efficiency doesn't need to be difficult - simple changes in everyday habits can result in substantial water savings.
In the bathroom
Follow these tips to see how small changes can make a difference to your water usage:
- Switching to a water efficient shower head can save 11 litres of water per minute.
- Installing a water efficient aerator on taps can save an average of 13.75 litres a day.
- Turn off the tap whilst brushing your teeth.
- Take shorter showers to save on energy costs as well as water usage.
- Keep an eye out for dripping taps. A leaking tap can waste up to 20,000 litres per year so fix a dripping tap as soon as possible.
- Check the temperature as you fill the bath to avoid unnecessarily adding extra water to get the correct temperature.
- Put the plug in the bath before turning the tap on and only fill with as much water as you need. Use less for children and pets.
- If you’re buying a new toilet, choose a dual flush model. These toilets use just 4.5 litres for a full flush and 3 litres for a half flush. They can save the average home up to 35,000 litres per year.
- Don’t flush needlessly. Use the half flush option on dual flush toilets and remember to only flush toilet paper, pee and poo down the toilet.
- Check for leaks in the toilet by placing a few drops of food dye into the cistern. If, after 15 minutes, the food dye has seeped into the bowl then there may be a leak. A leaking toilet can use up to 16,000 litres of water a year.
If you suspect you have a leak you should contact a licensed plumber to investigate and repair.
In the laundry
There are many relatively easy measures that can be taken in the laundry to save water.
- Choose a front loading washing machine with a 4-star WELS rating or higher and you could use up to 50% less water than lower WELS rated machines.
- Front loaders use less water than top loaders, in some cases this can be as much as 70% or 36,000 litres per year.
- Instead of washing a lot of small loads, sort clothes and wash bigger loads less frequently. Doing this will save 10 litres of water each wash.
- Pre-treating stains before washing will reduce the need to rewash.
- When hand washing delicate fabrics, only use as much water as you need in the sink or bucket.
In the kitchen
The kitchen has the potential to be extremely water efficient, with very little effort required.
- Installing a water efficient aerator on taps can save an average of 13.75 litres a day.
- Keep an eye out for dripping taps. A leaking tap can waste up to 20,000 litres per year, so fix a dripping tap as soon as possible.
- Don’t rinse dishes under a running tap. If you have two sinks use one to wash and the other to rinse the dishes. Rinsing dishes under running water uses up to 15 litres a minute.
- Use washing-up liquid sparingly as this will reduce the amount of rinsing required.
- If you’re installing a new dishwasher choose a water efficient model. Check the appliance for a WELS label, the more stars, the more water efficient it is.
- Don’t waste water by rinsing plates, scrape plates clean instead.
- Only turn on the dishwasher when it’s full and use short cycles when you can.
- Part fill a bowl with water when preparing vegetables or washing fruit instead of running under the tap. The remaining water can be used to water the garden.
- Don’t use running water to defrost food.
When washing vehicles
You don’t need to use large amounts of water to keep your car and driveway clean. Waterless and water efficient car washes and high pressure low-flow cleaners mean you can clean and be water efficient.
- The average hose with a trigger or twist nozzle uses 15-20 litres of water a minute.
- Use a bucket of soapy water or a high pressure cleaning unit when cleaning your car at home.
- Wash you car on the grass allowing runoff to water your lawn.
- A commercial car wash averages about 70 litres per wash and uses recycling systems which capture, clean and re-use the wash water to maximise water efficiency.
- Sweep your driveways and footpaths instead of hosing them with water.
In the garden
Save bucket loads of water in the garden by making a conscious effort to modify gardening habits.
- Water your garden before 10am and after 4pm to avoid losing 50% of the water to evaporation.
- Try to water your garden less frequently but for longer periods to encourage deeper root growth.
- Use a trigger nozzle on your hose to avoid wasting water.
- Avoid watering when it is windy. Wind causes water to evaporate quickly and blows it to areas where it is not needed.
- Mulching reduces up to 70% of water evaporation from soil by retaining moisture. It can also provide plants with important nutrients and control weed growth.
- Choose drought tolerant plant and lawn species as they often have low water and maintenance requirements. Use the Smart Approved WaterMark plant finder or the Waterwise Plant Selector to choose suitable water efficient plants and shrubs.
- When adding new plants to your garden, prepare the garden bed with good soil, water storing granules and wetting agents.
- Only water until the top 15-20cm of soil is wet, this is a standard drink. More than 10mm of water pooling above the soil will result in water seeping past the feeder root zone and being wasted.
- Check the weather forecast before watering your gardens. If it is forecast to rain, let nature top it up for you!
- Accept a less-than-lush lawn during dry periods. Grass will readily generate when water becomes available.
- Minimise grass areas in the yard. Replace them with water efficient landscaping.
- Install a rainwater tank. Capturing rainwater to use in your garden is an excellent way to reduce the amount of drinking water you use outdoors.
- Install drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is an affordable and relatively easy device to install in the garden. The drip system is placed at the base of the plant system and water slowly drips throughout the day.
In pools and spas
Backyard swimming pools are synonymous with our South East Queensland lifestyle however, they require large volumes of water.
- In South East Queensland up to 12 million litres of water per day is lost through evaporation off pool surfaces.
- Evaporation can be reduced by up to 90% by simply using a pool cover. Covering the pool lowers the water temperature, decreases evaporation and prevents debris falling on the pool surface.
- Increasing shade over the pool will help reduce evaporation even further.
- Wind contributes to evaporation. Landscaping around the pool with walls and hedges to create shelter from the wind will help to reduce water loss.
- Top up your swimming pool with tank water or a rainwater diverter. Rainwater diverters can be attached to a downpipe to divert rainwater into you swimming pool. They are a less expensive alternative to installing a tank.
- Keep the water level a bit lower. When your pool is used frequently, swimming and splashing can result in a lot of water being spilled over the edge of the pool. You don’t want to stop enjoying your pool, so consider keeping the water level several centimetres lower to prevent excess spillage.
- Check the weather forecast before topping up your pool. If it is forecast to rain, let nature top it up for you!
Checking the swimming pool for leaks
Unfortunately, lots of people get caught out with increased water consumption because of pool leaks. Swimming pool leaks are the owner's responsibility. Below are a few tips to check a pool for leaks.
- Check for bubbles in the return lines when the pool pump is running. If there are bubbles, there may be a leak in the suction side of the filtration system.
- Check the waste or backwash line for running water if a pool is losing water while the pump is running. The leak may be on the return-line side of the system.
- Check for cracks, gaps or tears - skimmer leaks are the most common leak in the pool and are caused by a separation between the plastic skimmer and the concrete pool. This leak looks like a crack, gap or tear and is easily repaired by pool putty.
- Check for leaks on the shell of the pool, inserts into the pool walls (e.g. lights), wall interfaces (e.g. tile line) and in the pump and filter equipment.
How to conduct a bucket test
To conduct a bucket test:
- Make sure the pool is filled to its normal level.
- Fill a bucket with pool water, leaving about 3cm from the top.
- Place the bucket on the first step of the pool.
- Mark the water level on the inside of the bucket.
- Shut off your pool pump.
- Mark the water level both on the outside of the bucket.
- Resume normal pump operation for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, repeat steps 4 and 5 then compare the two levels.
If the pool water level that's indicated by the mark on the outside of the bucket is lower than the water level indicated by the mark on the inside of the bucket, it is possible you have a leak. You might want to perform the test again to confirm your findings.
The test will be invalid if it rains or the water levels are checked after a 24 hour period.
For best results ensure that there is no swimming pool activity during the 24 hour period of the test and delay the test for another day if it is too windy.
Water meters can help detect possible water leaks. Read more about checking for leaks by visiting our water leaks page or reading our brochure via the links below:
For more ideas on how to save water in and around the home, take a tour around the Blue House.