The world is changing. Water all over the world is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, but it’s one that nobody can live without. In the last few days the South African city of Cape Town announced that it was running out of water and now people living in the city are very restricted on how much water they can use. Depending on where you’re reading this, the need to reduce water consumption could be different, but it’s something we all need to do!

At the end of 2017, for a unit on Education and Sustainability, I was tasked with writing a report and presenting my findings on water consumption in the home. In a country like Australia that is seeing an increasing number of droughts and water shortages, it seemed to like a worthy area of research to delve in to.

I won’t bore you with some of the specific outcomes from the participants of the research, but rather look at what I learnt when I was researching ways to save water and reduce our consumption. Surprisingly, most things that we can all do are very easy and at no cost; just a small change in behaviour. Small changes like this can also save you money on your water bills, bills that will only increase in the coming decades.

#1 – 4 Minute Showers

This is perhaps the easiest of all behaviours to change. It’s a standard length of time that many governments around the world advise on because it’s a long enough time to shower, but not too long that a lot of water is used unnecessarily. Showering for four minutes uses approximately 32 litres of water when used with a water-efficient showerhead (which will be discussed later).

You don’t even have to time it. Find one of your favourite songs and listen to that whilst you’re in the shower. Most songs are around 4 minutes long, making it a great natural timer.

#2 – Turning The Tap Off When Brushing Your Teeth

It’s something that eats me up inside when I see family and friends letting the tap run when they’re cleaning their teeth. It’s so not needed and it can waste a couple of litres every time!


#3 – Half-Flushes

Many modern toilets come with this possibility now. Full flushes usually use around 5-9 litres depending on efficiency but using a half-flush, which is often all that is needed, can limit the amount of water used at just 2-3 litres. Certainly better than letting it ‘mellow’…

#4 – Only Fill The Kettle With What You Need

Most modern kettles show you how much water there is inside it and roughly how many cups of tea that will make. Try not to over-fill it for more than you need.


And it’s not just water you’ll be saving. The amount of energy required and the time it takes to boil a full kettle is much larger than filling the kettle with the amount of water you need to make yourself a cup of tea. I’m just trying to save some precious seconds you’d be spending waiting for it to boil if it was full…

#5 – Watering the Garden

Depending what country or region you’re reading this from it could be very different. If you’re in the UK, most gardens receive enough rain naturally. There may only be a few days during the summer where you actually need to use a hose or watering can to water the garden. If you’re in Australia then you’ll know it can go days and even weeks without rain and water reticulation units can only be used a couple of days each week.

Quite often, homes around the UK have water butts that collect rainwater off rooftops and store it to be used at a later time. Water storage units can be set up and used in any country around the world and recycle rainwater at any time.


Another way to use water better in the garden is to water it either early in the morning or late in the evening; any time that the sun is not high in the sky. Doing it in the evenings gives soils plenty of time to absorb the water into the ground overnight for plants to use. Doing this in the day, particularly in warmer countries, can lead to evaporation and plants are unable to absorb all water that is used.

#6 – Tap Aerators/Lo-Flo Technology

This is where small costs can be included but are available at most hardware or DIY stores. Tap aerators mix air into the water to reduce the amount of water that is used almost without knowing. Chances are if your tap seems to almost bubble then there is already one of these aerators in the tap.

Lo-Flo shower heads are another way to reduce the amount of water we use. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t mean standing in a shower where water seems to just dribble out. By adding bubbled air into the water it can reduce the amount that is used it without a drop in pressure.


More Ways to Reduce Water Consumption

There are more costly ways to reduce water consumption, but they may be of interest for those building their own home or working on what they already own.

Grey Water Recycling

Grey water is water that has already been used in the home to do the dishes or wash clothes (for example) that can still be filtered and reused elsewhere, like the toilet or in the garden. This can save huge amounts of water annually and there are no dangers reusing water in this way.

Large Water Storage Tanks

Probably the least common and most difficult way to reduce water consumption of any way that I’ve suggested, but it is possible. Something I’ve observed in Perth is that new homes are starting to be built with large water storage containers beneath them. Rainwater is collected throughout the year, filtered and able to be used whenever needed, essentially allowing people to live almost off-grid. During the winter months in Australia when rains can be heavy, enough water can be stored and kept for the summer when rains are much less frequent.

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