We received our latest water bill yesterday. I was interested to see whether or not we had managed to achieve any reduction in how much we used.
Well yes, we have. Down from 23 cubic metres in the previous 6 month billing period (April to September) to 21 cubic metres this time. Not unprecedented – my data shows that our usage dipped that low back in September 2015, but since then it has generally settled around the 23/24/25 cubic metres mark for 6 months.
The bill also usefully indicates that this latest bill equates to using 110 litres per day, compared to our last bill at 123 litres per day, and the equivalent bill for last year at 119 litres per day. It still sounds like a staggering amount of water for 2 people to be using every single day. Just imagine if we had to walk to collect and carry that on a daily basis, instead of turning on a tap.
Our water provider, Wessex Water, say that the national average 2 person household uses 301 litres of water a day. For a 1 person household that figure drops to 181 litre per day. That is a staggering amount more than our actual daily use, which spurs me on to continue being thoughtful about how we use water, and see much much more we can reduce our use.
There are a couple of things I began doing during this period, and I think the bill shows that they are having an impact. Including a financial impact: whereas on our previous bill we owed £8.59 (in other words, our direct debit payment was insufficient), this time we are to receive a refund of just over £30, and our direct debit payments will go down by about £2.50 per month.
- I now use reclaimed or reused water for at least one toilet flush most days. On most days I wash up some dishes by hand. It takes a while before the water runs hot in the kitchen. I collect the ‘wasted water’ and pour it into a bucket. I also pour much of the washing up water into the bucket once I’ve finished, letting only the last litre or so go down the drain. That provides plenty of water for a toilet flush.
- If the weather is very rainy and the garden water butts are full, I draw off another lot of water into the bucket for toilet flushing
- We don’t flush the toilet every time we use it (“if it’s yellow……”)
- (You may think this is a bit ‘hard core’ ) When I know I’m going to be out on the allotment that day I may well wee into a (different) bucket and take that with me to add to one of my compost bins – free compost activator, if you like. Why waste what can be used?
I don’t do any of these things as often as I could – I think the lesson from this 6 month period is that they really are worth doing. So one resolution for the current period is to do more of the same.
I’ve also noticed that in the course of an average day I wash my hands quite a few times. Unless I’m just in from a heavy gardening session, the water is rarely very dirty. I’m going to get a small bowl to place in the wash basin and add that for reuse for toilet flushing.
I have spent a little on achieving this – I bought an old enamel bucket with a lid at a vintage market, which is what I keep the flushing water in. That has been more than paid for by the cost saving in water, and will continue in use for the foreseeable future. Likewise the bowl I plan to buy (maybe at the same vintage market).
There’s no point in us wringing our hands about the climate emergency if we’re not prepared to take some very simple measures ourselves. And if not now, when?
I wonder how low we can go? If you have other simple suggestions for reducing water use, I’d love to hear them.
Like water itself, our useage graph is (mostly) flowing downhill. As it should be.