I know what you are thinking, water conservation is important, but it’s not energy related. Wrong! Guess who one of the biggest consumers of energy is in Scotland (if not THE biggest consumer)?? It’s Scottish Water! I’m not pointed them out as being energy hogs or anything, but it highlights just how energy intensive it is to treat and pump water so that it is fit for drinking. So, while many folks do not have domestic water bills (something that this California native finds mind-boggling and horrifying) like we do for electricity and gas, we are using quite a bit of “hidden” energy when we use water.
There are lots of ways you can reduce your water consumption, and here are a few ways to do that in the bathroom.
- Take showers instead of baths. My kids are 2 and 7, and let me tell you it was an amazing revelation when we realised that we could give them quick 3 minute showers instead of 30 minute marathon baths. Even if your kids are little, try switching to showers at least a few times a week. You will save lots of time and water to boot!
We have a specially insulated bathtub, so on those rare luxurious days when one of us takes a soak, we don’t need to constantly add more hot water to enjoy the experience. They will cost you a bit more, but in my experience these tubs are well worth the investment, as they really do hold the heat of the bath for a long time. There is also this amazing tilting bathtub that looks like something out of a Lady Gaga video and gives you plenty of options for water usage. I’ve never seen or used one in person, but I really really want to give it a try!
- Take shorter showers. I must confess, I do and have always liked to take long showers. I can still recall my the sound of my mother banging on the bathroom door when I was a teenager, saying “Robin, are you STILL in the shower? GET OUT!!!” Showers are relaxing and lovely – that is when you don’t have mothers or children banging on the door telling you to get out. But they do waste lots of water and energy. So, I’ve been trying to take shorter showers at least for most of the week. If you can reduce your time down to 4 or 5 minutes then you’re doing well!
- Try turning off the water periodically while you are showering to shave, soap-up, or to shampoo. I got used to this growing up, and I still keep up the trick. It really does save water and doesn’t wash away all of your shaving foam or soap before you’ve had a chance to properly shave or wash.
- When you are installing a shower, you might try picking up an eco unit that uses less water or at least has an option for using less water. We have had one of these for years, and really love it. It has two energy saving aspects, one side reduces the water flow and has an “eco” click to keep it at low flow, and the other side has a temperature control with a click to keep the temperature a few degrees lower than a full hot blast.
- The power showers that for some odd reason are common in the UK use quite a bit more water and energy in pumping and heating, so please, please try to avoid these. Plus they are just odd and significantly reduce the pleasure of a shower in my humble opinion. For you Americans, they are these noisy boxes attached to shower walls that heat water in the shower instead of using hot water from the boiler of hot water tank and also pump the water to increase the pressure and water stream. Yeah, I know, they are weird.
- OK, a potentially controversial one here… Don’t wash your hair daily. I know some people will say “eeewwww, gross” but you know my grandmother was a hairdresser and back in the 1950’s women would do to the hairdresser on a weekly basis to get their hair “done.” And by “done” I mean washed and dried and set into that helmet sort of look that was so popular then. This daily washing thing is new and invented by shampoo companies. Even posh hair dressers will tell you to not wash your hair daily if you are going out and want to style it, as it’s easier with a little natural oil in hair. That’s natural oil and not “grease” like some shampoo adverts will tell you. Anyway, it’s food for thought.
- Water efficient toilets are standard these days, but if you have an older model without the dual flush (or if you are in the states with only one flush option) then you can either buy a gadget like a hippo to displace water in your tank to reduce the flow of your flush, or you can do something that all Californians know about – gently place a brick or two in the tank to displace some water. Job done! Less water with every flush.
- OK, now if you thought ditching daily hair washing was controversial, then you may not want to read down…. Again this is something that every Californian knows, and given the current drought doing on there, I know a fair few folks who are doing this.
If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.
What in the world does that mean you may ask? Well, it refers to toilet flushing! Let’s look at the math for a second before you get all up in arms. The average household of 4 flushes the toilet about 20 times a day or more when they are home. That’s well over 7,000 flushes a year. If the toilets are older model toilets with 13L/2.8gallon flushes, that’s about 95,000 litres or 20,500 gallons. Low flow toilets would be about 44,000 litres or 9,400 gallons. Now, if one reduces the number of times they flush the toilet to about once a day, then you reduce toilet water usage by a further 80%. Like I said, when you live through droughts and see your rivers run dry and reservoirs half empty for decades, you learn to do everything you can to reduce water usage. So, this behaviour is second nature to me, and needless-to-say my household uses a LOT less water than the average UK household. Not that I can quantify it because there’s no metering here, but that’s a whole other blog! I realise this concept will be very foreign and likely horrifying to folks in the UK who on the whole have more water than they could ever want. But again, it’s food for thought and perhaps might make you think before hitting that little silver crescent button.
At the sink
- The one tip that is grilled into every child growing up in the American southwest, is to turn off the sink tap/faucet when you are brushing your teeth. Does anyone really leave the water running while they do this? I can’t imagine, but it is still the cornerstone of water conservation education for kids, so apparently some people still do it. If you are one of these people, then perhaps you should watch this video and take a lesson from 8-year old Aqua.