Water saving tips: save 1,600 litres of water in a week

The average UK household could be inadvertently wasting over 1,600 litres of water every week. Our water saving tips will help you become more aware of your water consumption and make easy changes to save water. 

man and girl washing hands in kitchen sink water saving tips

7 minutes to read

5 days of water saving tips for Water Saving Week

Water Saving Week 2020 runs from 11th-15th May in 2020. It is an annual initiative by Waterwise, a not-for-profit NGO working to reduce water consumption in the UK. The first Water Saving Week ran in 2015, and each year people are encouraged and reminded to use water wisely.
When I started researching ways we can be more aware of the water we use in our homes, the stats I found were pretty scary. Just by taking for granted the water we rely on for so many reasons, we are potentially wasting huge volumes of this precious resource.
This year, there are 5 themes, each associated with a day of the week. 

This year’s water saving themes are:

  • Monday: Save water to save carbon
  • Tuesday: Save water and help communities to thrive
  • Wednesday: Save water to save wildlife
  • Thursday: Save water to save cash
  • Friday: Save water to keep the UK beautiful.
Our water consumption has such a far-reaching effect on our landscape, biodiversity, economy, personal finances and the environment. So, in order to help you save up to 1,600 litres of water in one week, follow our water saving tips and watch the numbers stacking up.
water saving tips pinterest pin

Water saving tips for Monday. Save 88 litres in your washing machine.

Welcome to day one! We’re going to start with a really easy one, as it actually involves doing less than you usually would. This week, turn your washing machine on fewer times.

The simplest way to do this is to wait a little bit longer before putting a wash on. Making sure you have a full load instead of doing two half loads of washing can save a lot of water.

According to Appliance City, the most water-efficient washing machine available in the UK uses around 44 litres of water per wash. Whether you currently do 4 or 10 washes per week. reducing the number of loads you do by two washes, you’re saving a minimum of 88 litres.

3 items of clothing on a washing line with purple, pink and green pegs. water saving tips

Wait until you have a full load each time

I know I’m guilty of throwing swimming kit in the machine and washing it on its own. A better solution is to hang it to dry when you’ve finished swimming then wash in a full load later.

Avoid rinse and pre-wash cycles

These are generally unnecessary and use a lot of extra water.

Re-wear clothes

Not everything needs to be washed after one wear. In fact, jeans should only be washed once every 10 wears and pyjamas can also be worn for multiple nights. By getting into the habit of not just tossing everything into the laundry basket every night, you reduce the need to wash so much. The added bonus of this is that clothes will last longer if they’re washed less frequently, as washing is taxing on fibres.

Own fewer “large” items, but more underwear.

By not having a wardrobe stuffed-full with clothes, you’re more likely to stretch out the time between washes, so you don’t run out. Having spent 9 months travelling with our children and living out of a suitcase, we are definitely more aware of this now. Also, by owning more underwear, you’re less likely to run out so you can stretch the time between washes.

Use a cloth to wipe spots and spills.

A lot of the time you can just wipe off any marks with a damp sponge, then continue to wear the item. This is especially true with young children – one mark doesn’t really matter, and they’re likely to be filthy by the end of the day anyway. So try to reduce your standards slightly and don’t get changed at the slightest hint of a mark on your (or their) clothes.

Extra tip: remember to wash on cold or 30 degrees to save energy

Water and energy use are closely linked, and by being aware of how much we’re heating our water, as well as the volume we’re using, we can contribute to saving carbon, too.

Water saving tips for Tuesday - save 609 litres in your bathroom

Onward, to the bathroom!

Needless to say, the bathroom is one of the places we use most water on a daily basis. From brushing teeth, to shaving, to showering to, well, using the toilet, it’s all water down the drain. But follow our water saving tips for the bathroom and you could save over 600 litres over the course of a week.

Watch how you flush

If you have a dual-flush toilet, use the half flush button as much as possible. It saves 3 litres per flush! If the average person flushes a toilet 5 times a day, or 35 times per week, and the half flush option is used 28 of those 35 times, that is 84 litres per week. Remember this is per person, too. 

Older toilets

If you have an older-style toilet (which generally uses around 10 litres per flush), use the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” method. Assuming this reduces your flushes by a minimum of 50%, this could save a massive 175 litres per person, per week!

Taps off!

Turn your tap off when brushing your teeth. I thought everyone did this but apparently it’s quite common to leave the tap running when teeth brushing. A running tap uses 6 litres of water per minute, so by switching it off instead of letting it run for 2 minutes, twice a day for a week, that’s 168 litres saved per person.

The same goes for washing your hands. While you’re rubbing the soap all over your hands (for 20 seconds – thanks Coronavirus for teaching us this), turn the tap off and save even more.

Check for leaks

A tap or shower head that drips 60 times per minute, wastes 21 litres of water per day. That’s 147 litres saved in a week if you get it fixed straight away.

silver tap dripping water into white sink

Shorter showers

We mentioned this in our Earth Day post a while back, but we will say it again here. Reducing the time you spend in the shower from 8 minutes to 5 can save 210 litres of water in a week.

Water saving tips for Wednesday - save 650 litres outside.

Now, let’s go outside and find out how we can save some water in our gardens and outside spaces.

Water at cool times of day

First thing in the morning is best if possible. The amount of water you’ll save through less evaporation can’t really be measured, as it depends on the size of your garden and how hot the day is, but it definitely helps!

Water by hand

If you target plants that need watering using a watering can, you can make huge savings. A garden hose or sprinkler running for 1 hour can use up to 1000 litres. A watering can, on the other hand, holds approximately 10 litres.

yellow metal watering can in foreground and garden tap in background - water saving tips

So even if you use 10 watering cans full every day, instead of your sprinkler once a week for an hour, that’s still a saving of 300 litres in a week.

Wash your car by hand, too

By using a bucket of warm, soapy water to wash, and a watering can with a rose head to rinse, you can save around 150 litres. If you usually use an automatic car wash, try to find out if there is a   “green” car wash nearby which recycles its water.

Collect rainwater

By investing in a water butt to collect rainwater from your house or shed roof, you can easily collect enough water to make a big dent in your water consumption.

In the UK, the average rainfall is around 800 mm per year. The average garden shed has a surface area of 1.66 sq m. That means that just from your shed roof you could fill a 200 litre water butt over 6 times!

Realistically though, you’ll be collecting more in winter and using more in summer. So even if you just use one butt’s-worth over the course of a year, that is 200 litres of water you would have otherwise taken from the tap.

Water saving tips for Thursday - save 333 litres in the kitchen

The kitchen is another area where our water consumption can get out of hand without us really noticing. As well as checking for leaking taps, as in the bathroom, there are several kitchen-specific actions we can take.

Steam vegetables where possible

Not only does steaming vegetables help retain vital nutrients, it also saves water. If you were to use a steamer once a day for a week instead of boiling vegetables in pans, you could save at least 21 litres of water per week. Alternatively, try to grill or roast vegetables you might otherwise have boiled. It makes them tastier too!

asparagus laying on wooden chopping board

If you need to boil, try using the drained-off water to make stock for soups and other dishes. This vegetable stock recipe uses vegetable scraps, so saves food waste too! Alternatively, allow it to cool, and use it to water your house plants. 

Keep a water jug in the fridge

We waste approximately 3 litres of water every time we make a drink, just waiting for the tap to run cold. If you’re sticking to the recommendation of 8 glasses per day, that’s 168 litres wasted in a week.

Instead, keep a jug of water in the fridge, and only top it up when it’s empty. Because it’s going in the fridge, you don’t need to wait for the tap to run cold. This also means you’re turning the tap on fewer times per day.

If you don’t have space to have a jug or bottle in your fridge, collect tap water and use it to water plants, wash vegetables or cook with.

Sweep floors and spot-clean where possible

Instead of reaching for your mop and 10 litre bucket every time your kitchen floor looks a bit grubby, wipe spills and spots immediately and sweep daily instead. By switching to mopping just once a week, you could save 60 litres of water in a week.

Wash fruits and vegetables whole

Instead of just rinsing the few lettuce leaves or broccoli florets you’re using that day, pre-wash your fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water and pat them dry to use later. This could save you running your tap for at least 2 minutes per day, which could save 84 litres per week.

metal bowl with water and tomatoes to save water

Water saving tips for Friday - install a water meter

I know that, personally, if I can see how much water I’m using in terms of cold, hard cash, I’m more inclined to try to reduce my consumption.

By asking your water supplier to install a water meter, you’ll get an itemised bill each month. This means you can set yourself a challenge each month to reduce your consumption, saving even more water and even more money!

There you have it! 1,600 litres in a week.

By following our water saving tips from Monday to Friday, you could save a whopping 1,680 litres of water in 5 days. Remember that this is per person for most of the tips. So if you’re a family of four, you could be saving 6,720 litres in a week. That’s the same as running your kitchen tap straight down the drain for over 18 hours a week, or 39 full days a year!

Did I miss anything? Share your own water saving tips in the comments below.


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