What a whopping figure – homes use nine billion litres of water a day

Water use
Water use

Homes in Great Britain use nine billion litres of water every day, the largest and most comprehensive study of water use ever has revealed.

At Home with Water, a report commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust Foundation in partnership with DEFRA, Procter and Gamble, Thames Water, Consumer Council for Water and SaveWaterSaveMoney, presents the findings from a study of 86,000 British households – and sheds new light on how Brits use water.

Showers are the biggest consumers of water in the home, using a quarter of the total – three per cent more than lavatories (22 per cent).

At Home with Water found an average shower lasts 7.5 minutes – and cutting a MINUTE off that time would save Hertfordshire households £3.6 million on energy bills each year.

Each day Britain “showers away” over two billion litres of water. At Home with Water pulls back the curtain on the showering habits of Brits, finding:

On average, Britons shower 4.4 times a week, and take 1.3 baths.

An average shower lasts 7.5 minutes – with one in eight taking more than ten minutes.

Those in larger households with more people take fewer showers each week, but stay in longer when the opportunity arises.

While a quarter of respondents have efficient eco-showerheads installed, a similar proportion have high-flow power showers.

Away from the bathroom, At Home with Water found that just over a fifth (22 per cent) of household water is used in the kitchen, with washing machines, dishwashers, kettles and taps all taking their share.

More than nine in ten people (95 per cent) boil the kettle every day, with 40 per cent doing so five times a day or more. However, three quarters of households still boil more water than they need – with overfilling costing people in Hertfordshire £1 million a year.

Despite the increasing use of new technology in UK homes, dishwashers are still second-best to handwashing in many cases.

The average British household washes dishes by hand ten times a week, but only uses the dishwasher three times a week. Energy Saving Trust states that larger households in Hertfordshire could actually make greater energy and water savings by using an efficient, modern dishwasher rather than washing by hand.

Andrew Tucker, water strategy manager at Energy Saving Trust, said: “When people think of energy use they think of heating and lighting, running electrical appliances or filling the car with petrol. It’s all too easy to turn on the tap and not think about the consequences.

“But there is an environmental and energy cost attached to water which many people do not consider. On average, hot water use contributes £228 to the average annual combined energy bill.

“It’s clear that we are all using more water-consuming appliances regularly, especially showers, but that doesn’t mean householders in Hertfordshire are powerless to control their water use.

“By reducing the amount of water – especially hot water – that we use, we can cut down on the energy demands of our lifestyles, which have changed radically over the last 50 years. Following three simple steps from the Energy Saving Trust will help reduce the energy and water bills of consumers – and stop their money spiralling down the plughole.”

Energy Saving Trust is urging people in Hertfordshire to follow three simple tips to save water and energy, without impacting on their lifestyle. An average Hertfordshire household could save £22 on their energy bills each year, with metered households saving an additional £13 on their water bills by:

Showering smarter – installing an eco-shower head to a mixer or power shower, which 49 per cent of households may be eligible to do;

Turning it down – washing clothes at 30C, saving 40 per cent on a wash at 50-60C;

Budgeting your brews – boil only the water you need when you fill the kettle, because overfilling costs Brits £68 million a year.

Other key findings from the report include:

On average, each person in Great Britain uses about 142 litres of clean water every day – that’s 349 litres per household.

Fitting and using a dual-flush mechanism to an old toilet in an average four-person household could save around 44,000 litres of water and £120 a year in metered water bills annually. But only 41 per cent of respondents had a dual-flush lavatory.

Households use their washing machine on average 4.5 times each week, but only a quarter choose to wash at 30 degrees or less.

The findings from At Home with Water were compiled from data collected between 2010 and 2012 from the Energy Saving Trust’s Water Energy Calculator, which allows users to take a virtual tour of their home and fill-in simple details about their water use.

The calculator then lets householders see how much water they use throughout the home, how much that use costs them, and what they could do to make monetary savings each year.

Click here so see the calculator for yourself

At Home with Water will enable consumers, businesses and government to understand how water is used, forecast future trends and take action to save water and energy.

Paul Rutter, sustainable water manager at Thames Water, said: “The future challenge of finding enough water resources means all water companies have a duty to promote efficiency, and the research carried out by the Energy Saving Trust helps towards that aim. Importantly, their work linking the costs of heating water helps make the point that win-win chances to save both water and energy are out there.”

A second phase of At Home with Water, also funded by the partners, will see in-depth trials of water monitoring in the homes of 100 volunteers. The results of this follow-up study will be used to enhance the findings outlined today.

Homeowners wanting more information on saving energy and water at home can visit call the Energy Saving Trust’s helpline on 0300 123 1234 or {http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk|visit the website by clicking here