Water efficiency

Water Efficiency

The idea of promoting water ‘efficiency’ means just that. It does not mean going without.

Water efficiency focuses on reducing waste and using only the amount of water required for the purpose. Water efficiency also emphasises consumers adopting small behavioural changes to reduce wastage and taking care to choose water efficiency orientated products.

According to the most recent UN World Water Report, present water consumption levels will lead to two thirds of the global populating living in regions of water stress by 2025.  Increasing demand and the effects of climate change mean that the abundance of water that most of us take for granted at the moment cannot be relied upon. In the long run water efficiency will be a necessity not an option.

For some,water efficiency practices have always been a way of life. Over two and a half billion people around the world are without consistently safe drinking water. Living standards and population growth in previously low consumption areas is fuelling demand. Modern industries, lifestyle and agricultural methods are heavily water dependent.

Areas where Water Efficiency is life or death

water efficiency

And the UK is not immune. The UK will always be able to supply all its essential water needs. But the price will rise, making adoption of water efficiency practices here unavoidable. In recent years the increase in water bills has been significantly in excess of inflation and there is every prospect that will continue. The UK will always be able to build sufficient reservoirs to satisfy its needs but the days when entire valleys can be flooded to supply water, for want of water efficiency are gone.

The village of Tryweryn in Wales was flooded in the 1960’s to build a reservoir to supply the West Midlands with water. What remains of the village reappears at low water.

 ‘Cofiwch Tryweryn’ is Welsh for ‘Remember Tryweryn’ and a memorial chapel has been built.

Tryweryn in Wales before it was flooded

Tryweryn in Wales before it was flooded


Tryweryn in Wales was flooded

Tryweryn in Wales was flooded

Water meter

Water meter

Water Meters

Overwhelmingly the most effective method of promoting water efficiency is to install a water meter. It is the absence of meters which is the reason why water efficiency practices were not adopted decades ago. The practice of measuring water charges based upon the rateable value of the property regardless of the amount of water consumed is hardly likely to promote water efficiency.

Water meters measure the amount of water used, and operate like gas and electricity meters. How much you pay depends on how much water you use.

Water Meter. Promoter of water efficiency

If your property doesn’t already have a water meter the water company will usually install one free of charge as part of their own obligation to promote water efficiency. The only exception might be if it were unreasonably expensive for them to do so. Such locations are rare and even then you would only have to pay for the installation. The meter itself would be free.

So as to promote water efficiency, the Secretary of State is increasingly using his powers to make meters compulsory in locations he designates as ‘water scarce’. At the beginning of August 2013 the Secretary of State has ordered a huge extension of the areas covered by potential compulsory water metering to include nine of the 24 water companies (serving around a third of the country). A quarter or more of the rivers, reservoirs, and  lakes in these regions are deficient in water with, according to the Environment Agency no hope of an improvement.

The nine water regions now regarded as facing “serious stress” are the South-Eastern, Eastern and Central regions served by Anglia, Affinity, Essex and Suffolk, South East, Southern, Sutton and East Surrey, and Thames, water companies.

Over time there may well be a significant proliferation of such designations as the government increasingly sees water efficiency as an important component in reducing water waste.

Would I benefit from a Water Meter

A water meter makes it possible for you to benefit financially from promoting water efficiency in your own home but the calculation obviously depends on how much you paying at the moment (based on the rateable value of your property) and how much water you use.

A single occupant living in a highly rated property will benefit substantially from a water meter provided that they adopt even the most basic water efficiency practices. But by adopting rigorous but easily attainable water efficiency measures, bills can be less than half what they were before.

As a rule a single occupant or a couple observing basic water efficiency standards will always benefit from a water meter but the amount of benefit will depend on the value of the property and the amount of water consumed. One significant item however may swing the balance the other way, that being water used outside either for a garden, for excessive car washing or perhaps in a swimming pool. Even a large amount of water required indoors for medical reasons need not make water metering inadvisable. Many water suppliers operate schemes which cap the metered water charges if the occupant has any medical condition which requires unusually high water usage or is some other way regarded as ‘vulnerable’.

The cost/benefit calculation however becomes more difficult when it involves families with children, particularly those living in social housing with comparatively low rateable value. In instances such as these, water metering can significantly increase the water bills even when observing reasonable water efficiency standards. The water requirements of the household are simply too much to be kept down to the amount the household would pay with unmetered water.

water efficiency Water Efficiency

By following the ten tips below you should be able to obtain most of the water savings possible in your home without installing any significant water efficiency devices. i.e. with virtually no investment

  • A running tap can waste more than six litres a minute. Turn off the tap when brushing teeth
  • Place a ‘hippo’ device in the toilet cistern. Toilet flushes rarely need a fill cistern of water and on the rare occasions when it does you can flush again. The cistern is quick to fill when the device is in place
  • Fix dripping taps immediately. Thousands of litres of liters of water can go done the drain barely noticed.

Enemy of water efficiency

  • Always wait until you have a full load before using the washing machine or dishwasher and if you buy a new machine take care to find one that is water efficient
  • Use the shower instead of a having a bath.
  • Wash vegetables and fruit in a bowl rather than under running water. And use leftover water to feed houseplants. water efficiency in the garden. Use a watering can or a trigger nozzle hosepipe rather than a sprinkler.
  • Wash the car with a bucket and sponge rather than a hosepipe.
  • Wash clothing in washing machines rather than washing by hand
  • Use waterless car wash products to wash cars etc

Water efficiency is an easy habit to attain. When you become used to seeing water draining away and presenting money it becomes easy to avoid wasting it as it does with everything else

KCS Water Efficiency

KCS will be returning to the subject of water efficiency and the devices available on the market to deal with particular circumstances and particular water requirements. If you have a particular enquiry as to how to cope with some particular water efficiency issue in your home which is causing costly water consumption please let us know. A fresh eye on the subject may well provide an easy answer.