Water saving tips at home

Taking a responsible approach to water efficiency doesn't need to be difficult. Simple changes in everyday habits can save a lot of water.

Follow these tips to see how small changes can make a big difference to your water use.

In the bathroom

  • Switch to a water-efficient shower head to save up to 11 litres of water a minute.
  • Install a water-efficient aerator on taps to save up to 13.75 litres of water a day.
  • Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth, this can save 5 litres of water a minute.
  • Take shorter showers, save 9 litres of water a minute.
  • Fix dripping taps. A leaking tap can waste up to 50 litres of water a day.
  • Check the temperature as you fill the bath so you don’t need to change the temperature when the bath is already full.
  • Put the plug in the bath before turning on the tap.
  • Choose a dual-flush toilet and use the half flush.This can save up to 30 litres of water a day.
  • Don’t flush needlessly. Use the half flush option on dual-flush toilets and remember not to flush wet wipes because they can block your drains.
  • 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, there may be a leak. A leaking toilet can use up to 16,000 litres of water a year.

In the kitchen

  • Install a water-efficient aerator on taps to save an average of 13.75 litres a day.
  • Fix dripping taps, this can save up to 50 litres of water a day.
  • 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 to 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.
  • Scrape plates clean instead of rinsing.
  • Only turn on the dishwasher when it’s full and use short cycles when you can. This can save thousands of litres of water a year.
  • Part fill a bowl with water when preparing vegetables or washing fruit instead of running them under the tap. The leftover water can be used to water the garden.
  • Don’t use running water to defrost food.

In the laundry

  • Choose a front-loading washing machine with a 4-star WELS rating or higher. You could use up to 50% less water than lower WELS-rated machines.
  • Front-loading washing machines use less water than top loaders. In some cases they use up to 70% less water and could save 36,000 litres of water a year.
  • Sort clothes and wash bigger loads less frequently. Doing this will save thousands of litres of water a year.
  • Pre-treat stains before washing.
  • When hand washing delicate fabrics, only use as much water as you need in the sink or bucket.

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 cleaners mean you can clean the car 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 to wash your car at home. This can save 8 litres of water a minute.
  • Wash your car on the grass so runoff can water your lawn.
  • Commercial car washing facilities use recycling systems which capture, clean and re-use the wash water to maximise water efficiency.

In the garden

  • Water your garden before 8.00am and after 4.00pm to avoid losing 50% of the water to evaporation.
  • Water your garden less frequently but for longer periods to encourage deeper root growth.
  • Use a trigger nozzle on your hose.
  • Avoid watering when it is windy. Wind causes water to evaporate quickly and blows it to areas where it is not needed.
  • Mulch your garden beds. Mulching reduces up to 70% of water evaporation from soil. It can also give plants important nutrients and control weed growth.
  • Choose drought-tolerant plants and lawns. They often have low water and maintenance requirements. Visit the following websites Smart Approved WaterMark plant finder or the Waterwise Plant Selector to choose 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 for gardens. If you have more than 10mm of water pooling above the soil, the water will seep past the feeder root zone and be wasted.
  • Check the weather forecast before watering your gardens. If rain is forecast, let nature do it for you!
  • Accept a less-than-lush lawn during dry periods. Grass will readily regenerate 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. This can save thousands of litres of water a year.
  • Install drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is affordable and easy to install in the garden. The drip system is placed at the base of the plants and water slowly drips throughout the day.
  • Sweep your driveways and footpaths instead of hosing them with water. This can save up to 11 litres of water a minute.

In pools and spas

  • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation by up to 90% and save up to 36,000 litres of water a year. Covering the pool lowers the water temperature, decreases evaporation and stops debris falling in the pool.
  • Increase shade over the pool to help reduce evaporation.
  • Landscape around the pool with walls and hedges to create shelter from the wind. This will help to reduce water loss.
  • Top up your swimming pool with tank water or a rainwater diverter. Rainwater diverters attached to a downpipe will divert rainwater into your swimming pool.
  • Consider keeping the water level several centimetres lower to prevent water spillage. Swimming and splashing can result in a lot of water being spilled over the edge.
  • Check the weather forecast before topping up your pool. If rain is forecast, let nature top it up for you!

Check you swimming pool for leaks

Loss of pool water can be caused by exposure to the sun and wind, water temperature, humidity and leaks. To find out if you have a leak:

  • 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 leaks in pools. They are caused by a separation between the plastic skimmer and the concrete pool. It will look like a crack, gap or tear and is easily repaired with pool putty.
  • Check for leaks on the shell of the pool, in the lights, along tile lines, and in the pump and filter.

How to do a bucket test to check for pool leaks

A bucket test exposes water in a bucket to the same conditions as the pool. By comparing water loss in each you can determine if the pool is leaking or if water loss is due to other conditions like exposure to wind. 

  1. Make sure the pool is filled to its normal level.
  2. Fill a bucket with pool water, leaving about 3cm clear at the top of the bucket.
  3. Place the bucket on the first step of the pool.
  4. Mark the water level on the inside of the bucket.
  5. Shut off your pool pump.
  6. Mark the water level on the outside of the bucket.
  7. Turn the pool pump back on and run it as normal for 24 hours.
  8. After 24 hours, compare the two levels.

If the pool water level on the outside of the bucket is lower than the water level mark on the inside of the bucket, it is possible you have a leak. Perform the test again to confirm this.

If it rains or if the water levels are checked after a 24-hour period you will need to start the test again.

For best results, make sure you don’t use the swimming pool during the 24-hour test (because splashing might confuse the results). Avoid doing the test of very windy days.

Water leaks

Water meters can help detect water leaks on your property. For more information about checking for leaks see Water leaks

For more ideas on how to save water in and around the home, visit the Blue House website.