I don’t know why im quite so obsessed by water use, perhaps it’s because I grew up in Brighton, swimming in the sea from an early age, or even that I was even a windsurfing instructor for a few years – which teaches you to respect water and the sea, that’s for sure. Or perhaps quite simply unlike gas or electricity it’s such a measurable resource. If like me, you’ve got a water meter itâ€™s a resource that you can dramatically reduce without much impact to the quality of your life at home.
Itâ€™s clear to me that interior design has a key role in helping us reduce our use of water, especially that as a designer I get to manage that golden opportunity when a home is undergoing change.
So I wanted to share a few little eco design secrets with you, because numerous counties across the South and East of the UK have now entered enforced water restrictions. So weâ€™re going to need to learn how to reduce our water use over the next few months, years- and perhaps over our entire lives.
The reality is that in the UK the average adult uses 150 litres of “drinking quality” water per day. And hereâ€™s a picture of what all that water looks like. Scary huh?!
No one believes me when I tell them that, but itâ€™s true, check your water meter if you have one and do the maths.
But what can you do, without a major overhaul of your home?
Toilets are a massive waste. I especially hate that with every flush most toilets use 9 litres of drinking water â€“ just imagine all those bottles of water being lost down the pan. OK so most of us have tried the old water hippo or brick and yes it will save a litre of two, but for me a far greater saver is the Interflush kitÂ Â www.interflush.co.ukÂ which really simply fits to your old siphon toilet and allows you to control the amount of water your toilet uses as you hold down the handle. Simple to fit and the payback is a few months.
But toilets arenâ€™t that sexy and exciting are they? So how about showers – of course I could go on about how we should all be sharing them and how steamy it can all get, but letâ€™s be realistic, as romantic as I may be – itâ€™s not really a viable long term water saving solution. The simplest way to reduce water in a shower is to use a shower timer. Thereâ€™s plenty to choose from there and they donâ€™t need to be more complicated than a water proof egg timer. www.savewatersavemoney.co.uk
When the average shower uses 10 litres of water per minute and lasts for 7 minutes, cutting this down to 4 minutes (without any real nagging) is pretty easy and will save 30 glorious litres of the wet stuff.
Or go one step further and fit a low flow aerating shower head like this one from Mira www.mirashowers.co.uk/onlinecatalogÂ or this from Camel, www.ecocamel.comÂ they just screw onto your old shower hose. For around Â£30 this will cut water use from 10 litres down to around 5 or 6 litres depending on which model you go for, and your water pressure. And remember you pay for hot water 3 times â€“ once to buy it, once to heat it and once to get rid of it. So every litre saved in the shower saves the cost of heating it too. With no noticeable reduction of water use, itâ€™s a simple winner.
But if youâ€™re a bath person and donâ€™t like the idea of sharing water with your partner or family (sitting around in other peoples gunky soap and dirt is considerably less sexy than sharing a shower in my opinion, even if you do love them) you could fit a water diverting valve to the outside bit of your waste pipeÂ www.green-shopping.co.ukÂ Â This will allow you to divert water from the bath to a hose pipe to be used in the garden for watering plants. Simple but ingenious grey water recycling!
A relatively small amount of water is actually used in cooking and drinking but washing up can be pretty bad. A simple solution is to use a washing up bowl or you could go one step further and fit a foot pedal operated tap like this one from IZI flow www.izi-flow.comÂ .
Quite simply it allows the mixer tap to be turned on and off by a foot pedal so you donâ€™t need to turn the taps on and off to rinse, and as soon as you step away from the sink the tap goes off â€“ brilliant, I love it !
All these products are easy to fit and use and have helped cut water use in my own home to 100 litres of water per person per day- a reduction of over 30%; saving me even more than that in hot water costs too. So look at the longterm savings now and put that Easter DIY to good use. You could even use it as an excuse to share that once in a blue moon showerâ€¦â€¦..