2019 goals: use less water – April update

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.

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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6 Responses to 2019 goals: use less water – April update

  1. Sharon says:

    That’s very disciplined and organised. I’m working my way up to that.


  2. Except when running very low on water collected in the butts, we never flush the toilet with mains water. We bought an IBC specifically to store rain water for use in the garden and toilet; we have four other water butts and it means that we very rarely run out. Now I never think about saving water when I wash my hands because we don’t need it!
    One of the biggest users of water in our house is the washing machine. We have a modern machine that is low water use, but I try never to wash if I don’t have a full load. I have found Eucalan very useful too – it’s for washing woollies and does not require rinsing out, so the amount of water used is very small (plus I then often use it to flush the toilet because it’s already in a bucket).


    • That’s very inspiring! Our neighbour got an IBC like that, and they also use it for toilet flushing as well as the garden. I think that’s the direction we need to go in, but they found the installation trying – the plumber didn’t seem to know what they were doing, and the unit has the tap very high up, so there’s a large pool of water below it which can never be used.
      We also only use appliances with a full load. I’m interested in the Eucalan – I’ll look out for it. And yes, whenever I do hand washing the water gets reused on the garden or in the toilet.
      I love that in our blogs we can all inspire and encourage each other.


  3. MrsCraft says:

    Well done! I am dreading our water bill as the builders are using the outside tap daily for mixing mortar and we have no shower at the minute so we all need to have baths. The kids go in one after the other so we only run one bath for them. Even so, I have a feeling we will be ‘stung’.


    • Thank you! And yes, your water bill is definitely going to increase this time around. But look on the bright side – after that it can probably only get better (though I can remember when our sons were teenagers with girlfriends staying here a lot, and they all took very long showers that left the bathroom like a tropical rain forest. Whilst we tried to encourage them to tone it down, we valued that our teenage boys wanted to keep clean so didn’t come down on them too hard – I guess you have a way to get before you get to that point).


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