There’s no doubt I have become increasingly aware of our impact on the earth over the past couple of years. I now hate buying vegetables wrapped in plastic, and loathe it when I’m given a plastic straw with a drink I’ve ordered. Another thing I’ve become aware of is how we consume natural resources – in particular water.
It may sound simple, but I’ve started turning the tap off when brushing my teeth – where most of my life I’ve let it run. Water is a precious and finite resource, so when we renovate a bathroom, how can we make sure we save water without comprising on cleanliness and style?
Here, I’ve spoken to one of the lovely journalists for Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms magazine Ysanne Brooks, who has kindly put together a list of handy tips if – like me – you worry about this as well.
Look for the Water Label
When investing in new bathroom products, keep an eye out for the European Water Label to help you find the most efficient designs possible.
It’s a scheme developed in conjunction with the Bathrooms Manufacturers Association (BMA) and operated by the Water Label Company (much like the energy saving labels we’re used to seeing on kitchen appliances).
Waste less with your WC
Get this, according to waterwise.org.uk, around 30% of water used in an average UK household is through flushing the loo (which there’s no getting around, right?). We also flush the toilet on average seven times per day, per person – so says a report by the BMA. Do you think that’s about right for you?
Added up, those flushes could mean quite a bit of water. But, the good news is that recently there have been some changes made to our toilets – and the introduction of dual flush means less water is needed to fill the cistern, so the amount you use each time you flush is reduced. Small button – less water; big button, more water.
If you plan to renovate a bathroom and replace the old loo, it’s wise to choose one with a dual system like this. The two options for water usage per flush usually range from 4 to 6 litres.
A litre or so saved each time might not sound a lot, but over time it adds up – trust us.
Get your basin and tap right
In the same way many showerheads now come with aerators, you can buy taps using the same technology. So, if you do need to run the fixture continually for any reason, it will use less water while doing so thanks to a device within the tap itself that mixes in air, giving the feeling of a full flow without using so much water.
Often found in public bathrooms, have you thought about including taps with infrared technology at home? These feature sensors on top to turn the tap on and off again, which means you only use as much water as you need.
You may have noticed that basins, in general, have gotten smaller and shallower – this is because mixer taps mean we no longer have to fill them to get water that’s at the ideal temperature. However, these smaller designs, and those with a lower profile, will hold enough water for shaving, for instance, but will also reduce how much is wasted.
Be savvy with baths
I love a soak in the bath and would rather happily choose a bath over a shower any day. If you too crave a nice relaxing soak at the end of the day, there are still ways to minimise your water use (thankfully).
While a standard tub takes around 190 litres to fill, you can buy some that are shallower and hold around 130 litres – that’s a considerable saving without damaging your enjoyment.
Compact freestanding designs will also use less water, particularly if you choose one that has no integral overflow (the hole where water starts seeping out if the water level gets too high). This allows you to place it yourself, and situating it slightly lower than usual means the water level won’t be so high. While I like my knees to be fully submerged and love a deep bath, this has got me thinking about how much water I am actually using each evening.
Thermostatic bath fillers will also help reduce waste, particularly if you’re completing other tasks while waiting for the tub to be ready. These taps allow you to preselect the ideal temperature, so you don’t have to let the water run-through or keep checking it.
Could you make your bathroom smart?
While not directly bathroom related as this could apply to the whole house’s water use, solutions such as the Grohe Sense water management system allow you to use an app on your phone to monitor and control your water from anywhere.
Installed on the main pipe, the Grohe Sense Guard lets you automatically turn off the flow by simply tapping a button in an app, no matter where you are, so any leaks can be detected and dealt with almost as soon as they occur, which can help you save water and, potentially, money if you’re on a meter.
Elsewhere, innovations in shower systems will see even more improvements on digital water controls such as SmarTap from Victoria Plum, which currently can be programmed to provide consistent temperature during your shower – but similar technology could also be used elsewhere to help save both water and energy in the future.
Save on your shower
How much water you use will depend on both your boiler system, as its pressure will affect how powerful your shower is – the higher your set-up’s pressure, the higher the flow rate and the more water will be pushed through per minute – as well as the size of your showerhead.
For instance, a bigger design, such as one of the latest rainfall-style fixtures, will dispense more water per minute than a small hand-held one.
If you plan to renovate a bathroom, invest in a design fitted with an aerator, which adds air to the flow before it comes out of the head, ensuring it feels just as powerful without needing to use so much water. This allows you to save a considerable amount, going from around 15 litres a minute down to between eight and nine.
Other solutions include pulsating showerheads, which discreetly turn the flow on and off 30 times per second saving water every time it is stopped, plus models that can be switched off as you’re soaping or washing your hair and then automatically start again – at the same temperature – once you’re done.
Hopefully this all helps start you off on your journey to using less water – happy renovating!
Featured image: SmarTap. from £769 from Victoria Plum.