With the current focus on global warming and the need to be careful about the planet’s resources it’s not surprising that water conservation is back on the agenda.
Water Conservation First Hits the News
It was back in the severe droughts of the 1970s that the idea of water conservation was first talked about at large in the United Kingdom. Up until then having quality drinking water that came out when you turned a tap on and would never run out had become the nation’s default thinking, even though it wasn’t long before that many people had to go out to a standpipe to get their water.
Pictures of dried, cracked earth where there were once reservoirs full of water were never away from the front pages of the newspapers and these were the first signs that access to water could no longer be treated as a birthright. In the 1970s talk of sharing baths and putting bricks in toilet cisterns was heard and although they are good ideas, the market for devices that save water in the bathroom has blossomed in the last few decades.
Low Water Use Products for the Bathroom
The modern equivalent of the brick in the cistern is the ‘hippo’, a plastic bag that retains some of the water at each flush so that only two-thirds of it is used for the flush. Another cheap method is to fill a two-litre plastic drink bottle and allow that to sink to the bottom of the cistern. These methods reduce water use but can cause problems if the toilet is overwhelmed as it may no longer have the power to disperse stubborn waste.
This led to the development of dual-flush cisterns where pushing one button gives a light flush which saves water and a second button delivers a full load of water. This leads to water efficiency gains, depending on the size of the family of a house, of up to 60% on a normal cistern. Newer versions use smaller capacity cisterns with new flushing patterns so that the efficiency of the flush is retained but water saved.
Save the Water Used by Taps and Showers
Water saving taps and shower heads are also now commonplace, particularly on new-build homes, and this will increase as the Government brings in legislation to establish new standards for water use. Water saving taps have devices that provide resistance so that they are harder to turn on fully and have heads that mix air in with the water to reduce splashing.
Push taps can also be used. These turn themselves off after a set length of time but aren’t popular in homes as they remind people of public toilets where they are used extensively and often don’t work properly.
Low-flow shower heads are available that restrict the amount of water that goes through a shower but they are more susceptible to temperature fluctuations when someone turns on a cold tap or flushes a toilet. Although this is annoying it can also be dangerous, leading to a risk of scalding, so it’s wise to fit a thermostatic shower unit. Water can also feel quite harsh to the skin as the shower head has a finer spray but more expensive shower heads mix the water with air to soften the impact.
High Water Efficiency Baths
A newer idea for water conservation in the bathroom is low volume baths. These are shaped differently to traditional baths, but only on the inside so they are still compatible with standard bath panels. The sides comes in at the middle, a bit like a coke bottle, and taper inward toward the bottom. This new shape allows for a deep and luxurious bath but uses almost half the amount of water than a traditional bath.
Cheap Tips for Water Conservation
These new products can all help to use less water but of course they cost money to install. If you can’t afford a new water conserving bathroom suite then the following ideas should help reduce water use in the bathroom:
- Don’t leave the tap running when you’re cleaning your teeth or wet shaving but fill a glass and use that instead.
- Always put the plug in the basin if you are washing your hands or face instead of doing it under running water.
- Use a bowl or bucket of water when cleaning the bathroom, rather than rinsing the cloth under a running tap.
- Restrict your cistern water use as outlined at the beginning of this article.
- Use bath water to wash the car or water the garden.
- Test the water temperature of a bath as it fills, you are less likely to need to add more water to cool it or heat it up later on.
Doing these things will save water and, if you are on a water meter, save money too.