In South Australia, being water-wise is an absolute must. Here’s how to make some easy water savings at your place.
There’s much to gain from including a water-wise check-up when planning your next spring clean or DIY project around the home.
Making sure our homes are efficiently using and managing water helps the environment, conserves our precious water resources and it can also save you money.
Every home has a part to play when it comes to smartly managing water in the driest state on the driest inhabited continent.
Whether you’re doing a full house renovation, simply adding new tapware, wanting to make some budget savings or trying to help the environment, these handy tips will help get your home on a water-wise footing:
1. Get to know your water bill.
You can learn a lot about household water consumption by looking a little closer at each water bill. It shows how much water has been used compared to the same time in previous years.
It’s worthwhile checking out the SA Water website to see how your household usage stacks up against the average daily residential water use per person.
You can also use your water meter to track water use as well as help identify if there is a leak somewhere in the pipework on your property.
To do that, take a meter reading and then don’t use any water for an hour or two before taking another meter reading. If the reading has changed, it looks like it could be a leak and you should call a licensed plumber to investigate.
2. Know how to spot a leak
As well as checking the water meter to find any leaks, it’s a good idea to check all the water-producing areas of your home – the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and outside.
Every dripping tap is wasting water and sending your money down the drain. One tap dripping just twice a minute can quickly add up to roughly the equivalent of a good-sized bath in a year.
Add a showerhead that drips 10 times a minute, an inefficient dishwater, plus a dodgy pipe or three and a very big picture of preventable water and energy waste starts to emerge.
So get onto it and identify what taps and other fixtures need attention and make a list.
Top tip: SA Water has some easy-to-follow tips on how to spot the tell-tale signs of a leak.
3. Audit each room and make a to-do list
Take an in-depth look at each water-producing area in your home to see if there are efficiencies to be made or problems to fix. In other words, make a list!
Here’s where to start:
Start with the bathroom – the biggest water user in the home.
A bathroom with a basin (or two) plus a bath and a shower, each with leaks, quickly adds up.
Check each tap and note any drips, worn tap fittings, or other water irregularities.
Do the fixtures have aerators/flow restrictors? If not, consider getting them put in when it’s next time to changeover the tapware. These devices will help reduce the flow of water without affecting the pressure.
Check the shower head. When was it replaced?
If you’re unsure if the showerhead is leaking, put a bucket under it and see how it fills up over time. If any water is captured, you can reuse it on your plants and add this leaker to the list.
All of these steps, including bathroom basics like cutting back how long people spend in the shower and turning off the tap when brushing teeth, are simple but effective ways to make sure your home and your family are using water wisely.
Onto the toilet(s).
If there’s no dual flush yet, consider adding one when it’s time to do a toilet replacement … which may be sooner than you think.
How long does the cistern take to fill? Is there run-on? Do you hear it in the night?
Some plumbers estimate a problem toilet can waste up to a litre a minute – then multiply that by 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours a day and then 92 days in a quarter billing cycle … Ouch!
Top Tip: An easy way to check for a leak is to put a few drops of food colouring into the cistern. If the colour shows in the water bowl without flushing, you’ve got a leak.
Onto the laundry to check each tap, whether their aerators need installing or replacing, the hose fittings and connections running from them. Add any problems identified to the to-do list, for you or the plumber to get onto.
Washing machines come in many sizes, offering different cycle options and other features. A good way to be water-wise in the laundry is to adjust the load settings to suit what’s in your machine.
Love them or not, front loaders use about 40% less water than top loaders.
Check taps and also if they need new aerators.
A great tip is to have a bowl on hand to collect water from the tap while waiting for it to get cooler or warmer. The collected water can be used to fill the kettle, bottled and kept in the fridge for drinking later, or given to the vegie patch.
Now onto the dishwasher. Note any issues, from its age, efficiency and water rating, to when it might very well be time for a new one.
Top tip: If it’s time to change up your appliances or hardware, it pays to do some research. Australia has mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS). Labels apply to all showerheads, washing machines, toilets/urinals, dishwashers and even some taps.
4. Change your behaviour
When it comes to being water-wise around the home, some simple checks and behavioural changes can deliver water savings.
Shorter showers, cooler showers, using a timer to make it fun for the kids… these are all easy strategies to put in place immediately.
With washing clothes, consider going off-peak and using delay-start features and look at how you fill the loads, using cold water cycle options and even shorter programs which are all easy changes to make.
And let’s not forget to use free wind and sunshine ahead of an electric dryer where possible.
5. Re-use greywater
There are options to re-use greywater – the water that comes out of things like dishwashers and clothes washing machines. Just make sure to follow the required planning, health and plumbing requirements.
Being water-wise in the driest state of the driest continent on earth is the Climate Smart and responsible thing to do – and every home has a part to play.