Kitchen Sink Drama: A Guide to Better Water Efficiency

oliver General

Its hard to imagine that our humble kitchen sink was the cause of so many arguments at home between Katie, my wife, and I. Ok so I love it when she would offer to do the washing up but always found it impossible to sit by and watch as the tap was left running as the dishes were cleaned and rinsed. inevitably id get up and turn it down (just a little, honest) and that was it. Domestic ensued!

Ok so ive learnt not to interfere, but also saw it as an opportunity for good design to offer simple and ingenuous ways to cut the impact of our kitchen sink.

Most people know that taking showers instead of baths saves water but what about our impact at the kitchen sink? The kitchen tap is responsible for about 8 to 14% of daily usage so there is plenty of room to reduce your water footprint.

The key to water efficiency is reducing waste not restricting use. Small behavioural changes and water efficient products can make a big difference. There are several small improvements I recommend to help save water, energy and money at the kitchen sink.

Most simply you can turn down the flow of water to your taps, this can drop tap flow rates from 12 litres per minute to 8 litres simply. Be careful though if too little hot water flows through it can prevent combi boilers from firing up.

Alternatively, fit your taps with aerators or flow restrictors. Aerators are cylinders with precision holes or filters. They fit at the end of the tap and spread water flow by introducing air. They are easy to fit and because they don’t affect water pressure, they don’t alter the tap’s effectiveness.

Flow restrictors perform a similar function by narrowing the flow of water at the tap joint. Restrictors are similarly easy to fit and cost less than ten pounds, so they really are great value for money. I like both these devices and they can reduce usage by up to 70% so your small investment could mean big savings.

A brilliant gadget that I found online, was a foot pedal operated tap. Being hands free not only are they more hygienic but as soon as you walk away from the sink, the tap goes off (our main route to arguments sorted!) saving as much as 70% water consumption.

One common misconception I encounter is that dishwashers use far more water than washing-up the old-fashioned way. This was true in the 1970s when an average cycle used 50 litres but modern dishwashers use as little as 6 litres per cycle, which is about the same or even less than an average hand wash.

Of course, not everyone wants a dishwasher so how about turning to another often overlooked classic. You may have last seen a washing-up bowl at your gran’s house but they really are a great way of limiting water usage. And who says even the humble washing-up bowl can’t be stylish? The Normann Copenhagen Iconic Washing-up Bowl is beautifully designed. It’s made of rubber and flexible so you don’t have to worry about breakages.

It’s not just water use you need to be aware of when washing-up. Many kitchen products contain all sorts of chemicals but there are many low impact washing-up liquids available. I especially love the design of Method products – if you’re going to have recyclable plastic bottles on your work surface you might as well make them beautiful ones. What’s more they contain nothing harmful so you don’t have to worry when you pull the plug.

Ok so these may seem like a few small tips but they all add up to sizeable water savings and of course far fewer heated moments in our kitchen.  Problem solved!