Sizing up your home water use is painless and worth the savings. Here’s how.
Taking stock of your water use is an ideal first-step on a mission to use less water. And the best place to start is with a “desk-top” audit by studying your bills. Look for trends or patterns and think about what could be causing spikes and troughs in your water use.
For more complicated set-ups or if you choose to go with a professional, some water authorities will even rebate 100 per cent of the cost. The Australian Green Plumbers has a page of rebate information on.
Peter Hoefler, chief operating officer of Green Plumbers, says that “in some cases people can have a qualified plumber carry out an audit and fit a dual-flush toilet cistern, and have the full cost rebated”.
Hoefler recommends doing your homework because “in some areas people can even have the full cost of a professionally-installed 5,000 L water tank rebated”.
There are plenty of things around the home that you can do yourself. Here’s a checklist to get you on your way.
Leaks typically account for about 3 per cent of household water use, or 1,000 L a day. So check:
- The main stop valve is in working condition
- No taps, pipes or connections are leaking or dripping
- Your solar heater collector doesn’t have any leaks that may be flowing unseen into downpipes
- There are no constantly wet patches in the ground, which indicates a potential pipe leak site
Bathrooms take up about 27 per cent of household water use. Check that:
- The showerhead has a flow restrictor fitted, and it showers efficiently with less than 9 litres/minute
- Shower times are minimised by doing as much as possible outside the shower (eg shaving). Aim for 4-minute showers
- The bath is filled only as deep as needed and recycled as greywater
- The basin spout is fitted with a flow restricting aerator, or a half-basin is used rather than a flowing tap
- Taps are not left running when not needed
- A dual-flush cistern or conversion device is fitted
- Half-flush is used appropriately
Kitchens accounts for about 4 per cent of household water use. Check that:
- Hand washing is preferred over dish washing machine (only if water is used sparingly for handwashing, in some cases, water-efficient dish washers can be better)
- You catch and use the cold water as you wait for the hot water to flow through
- Rinsing is done with minimum water (second sink, low-flow spray nozzle)
- If you do use the dishwasher, make sure it’s AAA+, usually runs on economy cycle, and is usually used when full
Garden and outdoors
Backyards typically use about 57 per cent of household water use so this is an important area to audit.Check that :
- Irrigation complies with local restrictions
- Backflow prevention valve is installed in taps
- A timer with a “rain sensor” function is fitted and the system is set to irrigate just long enough to be effective
- The garden hose has a turn-off nozzle
Evaporation causes water loss, so check:
- Bare ground and open lawn areas are minimised (foliage and mulch are used)
- Pools, spas and water features are covered when not in use
- Garden watering systems do not vaporise water into the air
Source: G Magazine (Kevin Farrel)
Save even more water and reduce your water bills by harvesting rainwater from your rooftop and storing the rain water in rainwater tanks or rain barrels.
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