How to save water in the bathroom
The bathroom is the room where we use the largest amount of water, but it’s also the room where we can make the greatest contribution to conserving this valuable resource. Installing a water-saving showerhead will lower your household water consumption more than any other change, but don’t stop there—there are many other ways to save on water bills.
Send less down the drain
Fit an AAA-rated showerhead. This can reduce water output by at least 9 litres a minute. Alternatively, have a plumber install a flow restrictor to reduce the amount of water your shower emits.
Take shorter showers. Every minute less can save as much as 23 litres of water. If you find this difficult, buy a timer and set it to 3 or 4 minutes to remind you to get out.
When waiting for a shower to run hot, catch the cold water in a bucket. Later, you can use the water on your indoor plants or in the garden. Keep a container handy at the basin, too.
Having a bath generally uses more water than taking a shower, so savour one as an occasional treat. Don’t overfill the bath: add just enough water to cover yourself when lying down.
Check the water temperature as the bath fills, to avoid running it too hot and then having to add lots of cold water to cool it down.
Check the plug in the bath to make sure it isn’t letting out any water. Add a metal strainer to the plug hole to prevent hair and other solids clogging outlet pipes.
Consider installing a grey water system to recycle water from the bath, shower and basin.The water can be used on the garden, for flushing the toilet, even for washing clothes.
Read more: How to keep your kitchen green and efficient
At the basin
Install aerating taps. These reduce water flow by up to 50 per cent, saving up to 5000 litres a year. Another option is to fit screw-on aerators to existing taps.
Consider a single-lever mixing tap: it will help you obtain the right water temperature more quickly.
When you turn the taps on, don’t turn them on full blast—up to 90 per cent of the water may be wasted. Get into the habit of releasing just as much as you need.
Don’t leave the tap running when you are brushing your teeth. A running tap can waste as much as 17 litres of water a minute.
When shaving, fill a cup with water and rinse your razor there instead of under a running tap or in a full sink of water.
Fixtures and accessories
Choose ceramics for fixtures, and natural materials such as wood, stone, or bamboo for soap dishes, laundry baskets, etc. Where possible, avoid plastic items, such as PVC shower curtains, as they are derived from non-renewable petroleum.
When your towels wear out, consider replacing them with towels made from environmentally friendly, non-chlorine-bleached materials such as hemp or organic cotton, which are available from specialist shops. Alternatively, if you buy ordinary cotton towels, make sure that they are of a high quality, so that they will last.
Avoid synthetic face sponges made from non-renewable petrochemicals.
Avoid disposables, such as disposable razors, as they increase waste.
Choose pure soap or vegetable based soaps and bath gels, without synthetic additives, especially if you are planning to use your grey water.
Minimise use of your extractor fan. On warm days, open a window instead. Provided you have a bathroom window that opens to the outside, avoid or disconnect fans that stay on while the light is on.
If you don’t have a window that you can open, consider installing a vented skylight.
Read more: Get your garden watered right
When buying a new toilet, choose a model with a high Water Rating or Water Conservation Rating.
Fit an efficient dual-flush toilet and use the half-flush option. It can save about 8 litres of water per flush.
Alternatively, install a toilet-flush regulator (or cistern system convertor), available from hardware shops.This allows you to control the amount of water that is flushed: the water is released for only as long as you hold the button. It can save as much as 5000 litres of water a year.
Even if you don’t have a dual-flush toilet, you can still reduce the amount of water used per flush by installing your own regulator. Fill a large plastic bottle with water and put it in the cistern, making sure it doesn’t interfere with the flush mechanism. Its size will dictate how much you save: a 3-litre container will save 3 litres of water per flush.
Always buy toilet paper made from recycled paper, and avoid papers that have been chlorine bleached or have had perfumes or colours added to them.
Use biodegradable toilet cleaners that have low toxicity, such as plant-based organic products (available from specialist suppliers) or borax and vinegar. Many antibacterial disinfectants destroy the bacteria required to break down sewage.
Do not put sanitary towels, tampons or condoms down the toilet as they are likely to cause blockages in the outlet pipes.
Bath or shower?
A bath is generally assumed to use far more water than a shower, but it depends on the efficiency of your shower and how frugal you are in the bath.
A low bath will use about 50 litres of water, whereas a full one may consume 150 litres. An inefficient showerhead can use up to 23 litres a minute; so, within just over 2 minutes, you’ll have used as much as a low bath and if you hang around for 7 minutes, you’ll have used more than a full bath.
In contrast, an efficient showerhead uses just 9 litres a minute, so a 3- or 4-minute shower will consume significantly less than a low bath.