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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

How to save even more water


Credit: turydddu / Flickr.com

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Previously we talked about saving water by changing to better habits. It's the kind of thing that can save you a fair bit of money, and is cheap and easy to start doing. However, most of us find it difficult to remember the good habits everyday.

It can be easier on your busy life if you install a few water-saving devices to do the hard work for you. It does cost a bit more, but your lower water bills will offset that over a year or two.

Some examples might be:

  • Water-saving showerheads - these have greatly improved over the last decade, and can take your average 20 litre/minute shower down to 9 litres per minute. Like the aerators below, they can be purchased and installed in just one afternoon.
  • Flow regulators or aerators on your taps - these again reduce the flow of water by about 50%, without you having to think about it. You probably don't want one on your bathtub tap, though, since they cool the water a bit too much and therefore waste the energy needed to heat it in the first place.
  • Dual-flush toilets - a fantastic Aussie invention, which has gradually been adopted around the world. Older one-button styles aren't on sale anymore, but they do live on in older houses and should probably be replaced. If you can't afford to do that, flow regulators are available and easy to install, or there's the old 'plastic milk bottle in the cistern' trick. The old recommendation used to be to put a brick in there, but they can flake gritty bits into the moving parts and do a bit of damage.

Of course, there's also the need to choose water-saving appliances when you get a chance to buy new. The WELS water-rating system is an excellent way to tell if you're getting the most value out of your washing-machine or dishwasher, although I do wonder why they even sell the lower-rated versions. It's not like any of us wants to use more water than necessary to get their clothes clean! I think we're all entitled to have efficient appliances as a standard, not as an optional extra.

According to Tanya Ha's book Greeniology, the average Aussie house uses 20% of their indoor water in the bathroom, followed by 15% in the toilet, 13% in the laundry, and 8% in the kitchen. So it's worth your while to tackle your water saving in the bathroom first, since that's where you can make the most difference.

But where does the other 44% get used? In the garden, watering our plants and lawns and vegie patches. We'll take a look at that next time.