Water Efficiency Guide
HOW TO SAVE ON WATER GUIDE * 12 MINUTE READ * WEDNESDAY 2ND MARCH 2022
As the population grows and we see changes to our climate, there are increasing pressures on our water supply. The Environment Agency has estimated that in 25 years, the UK will not have enough water to meet the demand.
Total non-household water consumption in the UK accounts for 20% of public water supply (Ofwat, 2018). There are around 1.2 million customers in the non-household water market who on average consume 140 million cubic meters per month. That's about 4.7 billion litres per day.
If you're ready to learn more about why we must care about water efficiency and how you can save on water, read on.
Water Efficiency: What is it?
As the fastest growing water supplier to non-household customers, water efficiency matters to us. We care about the long-term sustainability of the water supply, and about helping our customers keep their costs down.
What is water efficiency?
Water efficiency is all about maximising the benefit from every unit of water used. By taking steps to reduce our water wastage, we can each play a part in using water more efficiently, and limit the water stress experienced across the globe, as well as saving money along the way.
The problem: water scarcity
Water scarcity is defined as a lack of clean drinking water accessible to humans and animals in a given area. Around 2.8 billion people around the world deal with water scarcity for at least one month each year. This can be due to either a physical lack of water because the land is too dry, or due to economic reasons, because of a lack of investment in water infrastructure.
Although the planet is 70% water, only around 0.1% of earth's water supply is freely available to drink.
Lots of factors play a part in the problem of water scarcity. A major factor is the growing world population. Another is our increasing water footprint, as we import and consume more goods and food from across the world. Other factors such as weather, climate change, pollution, and political instability also contribute to the problem. All of this means that it is important to recognise the value of water as a vital but limited natural resource and use it accordingly.
Why do we all need to save water?
People might wonder how a country with such a reputation for rain like the UK could reach a tipping point where demand for water outstrips supply in just 25 years. But this may become a reality if we don't take action to save water now. A convergence of factors underpinned by climate change has led us to this frightening prospect. But if we all take concerted action now, we can ensure that there will be enough water to go around for generations to come.
- SIR JAMES BEVAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY, 2020.
The Great British Rain Paradox report found that three in four people in the UK believe it's a wet and rainy country, and most believe we have enough water to meet our future needs. But climate change and population growth mean that the UK could face significant water shortages in less than 25 years.
Our growing population is increasing demand for water, and changes to our climate are leading to wetter winters and drier, hotter summers. These disrupt infrastructure with flooding and reduce supplies when we need them most to keep cool, clean and hydrated.
The UK population is expected to grow from 67 million to 72.4 million by 2043, but our water use has changed too. In the 1960's the average person used 85 litres per day. Today, we use 143 litres per person each day.
How climate change is affecting water use
In early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions kept more people at home than normal and we experienced the hottest ever month of May, people were using more water than ever across the country. In some places, more than 40% more than normal.
When clean water's used faster than it can be produced, businesses can experience low water pressure and even outages to their water supply.
That exceptional demand for water was impossible to predict, but it shows how demand can and is changing.
The good news is that there are ways that businesses and employees at home can work together in these crises to make sure there's enough water for everyone.
How to save on water together
We've built our systems to notice when you're using an unusual amount of water. If this happens, we alert you, advise you how to check for leaks and can offer further advice for how you can use less water to keep your bills down.
Everflow Water offer a range of water saving products and services, and we can advise you on which are optimal for your organisation, to save the most water in your communities - reducing your water bills in the process. We can also signpost you to information to share with your employees to help reduce their water use (and bills) at home too.
Water wholesalers are responsible for conserving water by finding and fixing leaks on regional water mains. If you spot a leaking water main, please report it to your local water wholesaler as soon as possible, click here to find their contact details. Regional wholesalers also maintain and build new reservoirs, pipes, pumps and treatment works.
Understanding water usage, and how to save
When you look at the water usage on your bill, it's often hard to relate the figures back to your day-to-day activities and identify whether or not your bill is accurate, or whether there might be a problem somewhere on your supply. If you think you might have a leak follow these steps to find out.
Whatever situation you're in, there are likely to be ways that you can cut down on your water use. This will help you to save money on your water bills, and ensure your business is as water-efficient as possible, as the issue of water scarcity grows.
Water efficiency tips at home
Here are the quick and easy water-saving pledges you can make at home:
- Switching off the tap when you're brushing your teeth
- Using the little flush button for wee and the big flush button for number twos
- Sticking to a 5-minute shower, either using a timer or limiting it to one music track you can sing along to that's 5 minutes or less long
- Ensuring the dishwasher/washing machine is at its maximum capacity (according to manufacturer's instructions) before turning it on
- Only watering the lawn or outdoor plants in the evening
- Capturing some rainwater in a container to use on your plants
- Fixing a leaking tap or toilet, or identifying a possible leak for a customer
- Using the eco setting on your washing machine or dishwasher (we know, it's long!)
Water efficiency & water sustainability tips at work
Here are the quick and easy water-saving pledge you can make at work:
1. Fix leaks and drips
Leaking pipes can waste a lot of water and could be costing your business significant money. Tell tale signs of leaks include:
- Damp patches in or outside on your site
- Lush vegetation during dry periods
- Running overflow systems
A dripping tap can waste more water than 5,300 litres of water a year, so make sure taps are properly turned off and change washers at the first sign of a drip. For more serious leaks on your site, call a plumber right away.
2. Catch out leaky loos
Water leaking from cisterns into toilet bowls are one of the most frequent reasons your bill may be higher than necessary, with one loo wasting up to 400 litres a day. To check for this, place some food colouring in the cistern and leave the toilet for a few minutes without being flushed. If the colour has reached the toilet bowl then the cistern is leaking and a plumber can put this right.
3. Efficient fittings and appliances
Remember - reducing hot water use also brings down energy bills
We can supply you with (and organise fitting for) pressure reducing valves for your site pipework to avoid using more water than necessary.
Aerated or low flow taps, shower heads and hose attachments reduce water flow without compromising pressure. Aerating showers can halve water use.
Press taps reduce how long taps and showers run for.
Uncontrolled urinals can waste hundreds of litres of water every hour. Using devices like flush timers can reduce water consumption by 70%.
Flush reduction bags can be placed in the cisterns of older toilets to reduce their volumes. Older toilets can use up to 13 litres per flush.
Dual flush toilets typically use 4 - 6 litres of water - less than half what the old-style flush systems use. But ensure they're connected correctly (the big and small buttons are sometimes installed the wrong way around!) and their buttons can stick.
Choose wisely when you upgrade dishwashers, washing machines and other equipment - look for the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark
Dishwashers use less water than washing up plates and mugs separately. If you don't have one, you can fill a washing bowl rather than letting water run.
Water coolers give employees access to cold water without having to run a tap.
4. Fill up
Make sure that dishwashers and washing machines are full before they're used, and employees know to use the most efficient water and energy settings.
5. Don't overboil
When your employees use the kettle, consider signage to encourage them to only boil what they really need.
6. Wash down wisely
Hoses and sprinklers can use up to 1,000 litres per hour - more than a family of four will use in a day. Ensure vehicles, surfaces and equipment are rinsed with a bucket of water rather than a hose when possible and avoid using pressure washers. Consider recycling the water you're using for washing.
Thousands of litres of water can be wasted every day on grounds maintenance - especially in Summer. Hosepipes and sprinklers use more water in one hour.
If you're asking employees to wash uniforms more during the COVID-19 pandemic, please encourage them to only use washing machines when they're fully loaded.
7. Pool that rain
Fit water butts to drainpipes to collect rainwater off roofs and look into smart irrigation systems for watering crops and grounds. Try to choose plants and shrubs that can tolerate dry conditions.
If you have a large roof space or other surface for catching rainwater, ask us about our rainwater harvesting systems, which can also be shared at business parks or multiple tenant office buildings. Not only will these reduce your water bills, they can make your organisation less reliant on the rest of the region and resilient when adverse weather hits.
Want to go even further? Ask us about options for grey water recycling. These systems can be as small as routing used water from sink drains into toilet cisterns to full collective recycling tanks, filtration and disinfection systems for larger sites, with lots of options in between.
8. Show us yours
Find and regularly read your water meters. Someone within your business should be responsible for reading meters either weekly or monthly. A sudden increase in water usage may alert you to a leak.
Most organisations in England and Scotland now have a water meter. However because many businesses are tenants, they pay a collective service charge that is not related to how much water they're really using. Your organisation may save money by getting a separate smart water meter or logger exclusively for your business, which we can supply and organise fittings for. This can link to your computer or smart device, monitor your usage frequently throughout each day and show you trends.
Meters and loggers can also enable us to compare your organisation's usage to what is expected for similar sizes and types of businesses so that we can alert you to ways that you can reduce your water usage.
If you're not up for a meter or logger, we can estimate what your usage should be with one of our mini-audits. Just ask to complete our short online questionnaire and we will check your estimated against actual usage to highlight any potential leaks or other ways you could reduce your water bill.
Flooding: What to do
Sewer flooding and burst mains
If you come across sewer flooding or flooding as a result of a burst mains, contact your wholesaler immediately on their emergency link.
Flooded roads and groundwater flooding
If the flooding is a result of blocked public drains or groundwater flooding, contact your local council.
Floods from private drains
Floods from private drains are the responsibility of the property owner; you may need to contact a private drainage contractor to investigate and resolve the issue.