Every day, there are many simple little things we can do around the house to save water, money and help the environment.
Take a look through the tips below for some clever shortcuts to savings.
Encourage your friends and neighbors to be part of a water-conscious community.
Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bul etin boards and by example. Encourage your friends, neighbors and co-workers to "do their part."
Install a rainwater tank.
No matter where you are in Australia, a rainwater tank can at least partial y of set your mains water usage. A rainwater tank can col ect many thousands of litres of water each year. What size of tank you instal wil depend on the available space, the size of your roof, and rainfal patterns in your area.
Reuse your greywater.
Whether you use the simple 'bucket' method to col ect greywater, or have a complete greywater col ection and reuse system instal ed, reusing this valuable resource can greatly reduce your water use. It makes very little sense al owing water that has only been used to rinse clothes in a washing machine (unless you are washing nappies), or rinse a human in the shower, to go straight into the sewer.
Buy ef icient appliances
New appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers have water ratings labels on them that tel you how much water they use. If you have an appliance that needs replacing, then you should look for a machine that uses as little water and energy as possible.
Checking for leaks in taps, pipes and dishwasher hoses is an easy way to reduce water wastage. Remember, one leaking tap can waste more than 2,000 litres a month.
To check your home for leaks, turn of every tap and appliance that uses water, then read your water meter. Wait a while (overnight if you can), and read again. If the meter has ticked over, something's leaking. Check your toilets and taps first.
- Insulate hot water pipes. This avoids wasting water while waiting for hot water to flow through and saves energy.
- Make sure your hot water system thermostat is not set too high. Adding cold water to cool very hot water is wasteful
- Install water softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness. Turn softeners of while on vacation
- High water pressure increases flow rates from showers, taps, leaks and drips. If you have extreme high water pressure, a registered plumber can fit a pressure reduction valve at your property boundary in the kitchen
- Fit a flow regulator to reduce the water flow to 9 litres per minute or less.
- The most water ef icient methods for cooking vegetables are microwaving, steaming or using a pressure cooker. You can also cut down on water loss by using tight lids on pots and simmering instead of boiling rapidly.
- Installing water ef icient taps or tap aerators is a great, inexpensive way to cut your water usage without you even noticing.
- Put the plug in the sink when washing your hands instead of holding them under running water.
- Thaw frozen foods before you need them or use the microwave instead of placing them under running water.
- Prevent taps from leaking by turning taps of lightly and replace washers as soon as they begin to leak.
- Automatic dishwashers can use up to 40 litres of water per load. By using a dishwasher with at least a 3 star/AAA rating1, you can get this figure down to 18 litres per load and stil get the kind of sparkling clean dishes you're used to.
- It's best to wait until you have a ful load in your dishwasher before using it. This saves water and energy, and reduces the amount of detergent entering the sewerage system.
- Don't rinse dishes before loading, instead use the rinse and hold settings.
- Keep a container of water in the fridge so that you won't need to run the water down the sink until it's cool enough to drink.
- Washing fruit and vegies in a half-fil ed sink instead of under running water is a great way to cut back on water wastage.
- Rinsing your dishes in a plugged sink rather than under a running tap saves water and is just as easy and ef ective.
- Put in the plug as soon as you start running water to fil the sink. Keep the water pressure low while you wait for it to get hot.
- Use a sink strainer.
- Try to use phosphate-free, eco-friendly detergents and cleaning products - there's a great range to choose from these days and they're much better for our environment.
- Garbage-disposal units use about 30 litres of water per day and send a lot of extra rubbish into the sewers. This places an additional load on sewerage treatment plants, Ideal y some of your food scraps could be composted or fed into a worm farm rather than being processed down the kitchen sink.
- When you clean your fish tank, use the 'old' nitrogen and phosphorous-rich water on your plants
- Think before using the dishwasher. Washing dishes in the sink uses about 15L of water, depending on the capacity and water ef iciency rating of your dishwasher, it may be more ef icient to wash your dishes in the sink.
- Use the minimum amount of dishwashing detergent (when washing dishes by hand) as this wil reduce the amount of rinsing required.
- Use only as much water as you need in the kettle to cut your electricity costs at the same time.
- Don't use running water to defrost frozen food. Ideal y place food in refrigerator to defrost overnight - this is also the healthiest option.
- Where convenient and appropriate, try to capture 'warm-up' water for use on plants, rinsing dishes, washing fruit and vegetables, or other cleaning tasks.
- Don't put too much water in the pan when boiling food
- Put a lid on a pot in the laundry
- Remember to regularly clean the lint filter on your washing machine.
- Most washing machines have a load adjustment button or dial, so try to set this to match the amount of washing you're doing. If your machine doesn't have a load adjustment function, try to wait until you have enough washing for a ful load.
Divert your greywater
The easiest way to re-use water on your garden is to divert the greywater from your washing machine. Ask a hardware supplier for a greywater diverter.
- Consider buying a front loading machine. They general y use less water than top loaders. In the bathroom
- Take short showers. Soap up, wash down, rinse of . A bath uses less water than a long shower and you save on hot water costs at the same time.
- Installing one of the latest 3 star/AAA rating showerheads1 can give you a great shower and save you around 10 litres of water a minute. They also save you energy costs, as you'l use less hot water.
- To rinse your razor, run a little water into a plugged sink. Rinsing your razor under a running tap wastes lots of water.
- There's no need to leave the tap running while you brush your teeth. Simply wet your toothbrush before you begin and use a glass of water to rinse your mouth.
- Divert your shower water to the garden
- Depending on your plumbing, you may be able to divert your shower water to the garden.
- Shaving your legs in the shower takes more time and hence uses more water. Fil a container with warm water and use it to shave your legs before you get into the shower - then you only need the running shower to rinse off.
- Use a shower timer.
- Bathe your young children together.
- Use a bucket to col ect water while waiting for the shower to get hot
- In the toilet
- Install a dual flush system and always use the half flush. Alternatively purchase and instal a flow restrictor from the hardware store so that your system only uses half the amount of water.
- Repair a continuously leaking or trickling toilet.
- Use rainwater. Why use potable (drinking) water to flush your toilet? A tank-to-toilet-flush pump system can use water from a rainwater tank, diverting to mains water only if necessary. Consult a plumber or tank retailer for advice.
- If a new toilet is just out of the question, you can purchase smal gadgets to reduce the volume used with each flush of an older style toilet. They work by causing the toilet to flush only for the duration that you hold the button down - so pressing the button for a shorter period wil save water. Waterwizz (Toilet Water Saver) and Flexiflush are two examples of these gadgets
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
- If you have an older toilet with a large capacity, try putting a bottle fil ed with water or a brick in the cistern to reduce the amount of water used with each flush.
- Flushing the toilet less often-the adage 'if it's yel ow, let it mel ow, if it's brown, flush it down' applies here- unless that's too gross for you!
- Use the half flush option when possible on dual flush toilets
Quick Tips - for saving water in the garden
- There are many simple things we can do in our gardens to save water, money and the environment. Here are a few easy ideas to practice when you're pottering around outdoors.
- Check the four-day forecast. (Bureau of Meteorology - www.bom.gov.au) If there's rain ahead, let the rain do your watering for you
- Direct downspouts and other runof towards shrubs and trees, or collect and use for your garden.
- Plant Selection Selecting the right plants for the garden that you require is important. Think very careful y how you wil want to use your garden, both now and in future years. The needs of a young family in their first home are very dif erent to those of their parents who may be approaching retirement.
- Families with children and animals need plenty of open space, suggesting a durable garden with tough plants which can stand some physical abuse and large areas of lawn. A retiring couple with time on their hands may become more active gardeners, suggesting more garden beds with more specialised and delicate plants.
- In addition to this, it is a great idea to consider drought tol erant plants, which wil continue to grow without excess water use.
- Avoid the instal ation of ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless the water is recycled
- Avoid purchasing recreational water toys which require a constant stream of water.
- Use a screwdriver as a soil probe to test soil moisture. If it goes in easily, don't water.
- Use a watering can
- Replace hard surfaces in your garden or grounds with grass or garden beds to reduce stormwater run-of . In the pool
- Try to keep the water level of your pool halfway up the skimmer opening. Overfil ing the pool stops the skimmer working ef iciently and wastes water.
- A pool cover is a clever way to reduce evaporation and the need to regularly top up your pool's water level. Without a cover, more than half the water in your pool can evaporate over a year. (Some water restrictions prohibit fil ing of new pools)
- Sand filters require backwashing to clean them. Consider instal ing a cartridge filter which requires only a quick hose down to clean. Cartridges are finer filters leaving your pool clearer.
- A pool surrounded by pool decking loses less water to evaporation than the same area covered with traditional Grass (Southern Nevada Water Authority).
- Be alert to covering your pool on windy days especially - as evaporation levels increase with wind strength.
- Consider the amount of water that splashes out of the pool when people are jumping in and playing about. The "bomb" might be funny for onlookers, but the environment doesn't find it quite as amusing
- Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later. Your pool should lose no more than 1/4 inch each day.
Keep al your kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and garden waste - they're perfect for homemade compost, which your soil wil love.
If you need a watering system consider instal ing a drip irrigation system. It wil cut wastage by making sure the water goes only where you need it.
Lawn careA good soaking every now and then with a hand-held hose wil help make your lawn more drought resistant by encouraging deeper roots. (Some water restrictions prohibit watering of lawns)
It is important to check if your lawn real y needs a drink. If the lawn springs back after stepping on it, it doesn't require watering.
- When mowing the lawn don't cut the grass shorter than 2cm. If the lawn is too short it wil burn because it has no leaf protection. Tal er grass also holds and contains water better.
- To assist the establishment of your new lawn and to minimise the amount of water it requires, it is recommended that you apply a light top dressing to your lawn.
- Let lawns turn brown during dry seasons as it wil recovery quickly after rain. Your lawn uses more water per square metre than any other part of your garden.
- When deciding on a lawn type, go for slow growing, water saving varieties like Palmetto. They have deep roots for drought tolerance and they don't need mowing as much as other varieties.
- Catch-cups are gauges used to measure the water applied to your lawn. They come in sets of 10, and are available from irrigation retailers. Use them to check your sprinkler system for even distribution, and to find how long to water to give your turf the correct drink.
- During summer aerate the soil to help improve its condition. Feed and don't over fertilise the lawn. The vegetable and flower garden. If your garden has grown like topsy with little bits al over the place you can change it round.
- Most of the high water use plants have shal ow root systems and can be easily transplanted in winter into their respective groups.
- Hardy, low water and drought tolerant species cannot normal y be moved because of their very deep root systems.
- Plant during the spring or autumn when the watering requirements are lower.
- Use deep mulch and add compost to your soil. These add nutrients and help to retain moisture and reduce evaporation.
- It's best to water the roots and soil around plants rather than spraying the leaves and flowers.
- Watering your garden in the cool of the early morning, or in the evening reduces water loss through evaporation.
- Take some time to relax in your garden and water by hand with a can or trigger nozzle. It's one of the best ways to make sure your plants get just the right amount of water.
- Paths, patios and driveways must never be hosed. Use a broom, rake or outdoor blower or vacuum instead.
- When planting new garden beds, group plants with similar watering needs together.
- Keep planted areas dense and consolidated. Sparse scattered plants are more dif icult to water ef iciently than ones that are in defined areas.
- For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
- Adding organic matter to the soil improves both its moisture and nutrient holding capacity thus saving on water and fertiliser. It is particularly important to improve the top 15-20 cm of soil where the feeder roots of plants wil develop. Old animal manures, compost and proprietary products are ideal soil improvers. Mix them in equal parts with the soil prior to planting out.
- Soak pot plants for a few minutes in a sink or bucket of water. The water wil soak in, push out trapped air in the soil so your plants wil be healthier and you use less water.
- Xeriscape Gardening Xeriscape (xeros=dry, scape=land) is a term often used for water ef icient gardens, and targets seven basic areas, planning, soil care, selection of plans, lawn care, irrigation, mulching and maintenance. When applied together these techniques reduce water dramatical y, however each technique on its own wil have a significant impact. The concept was first developed in North America, but has since emerged as a generic, holistic approach for water conservation in the garden.