Household tips

Here’s how to save water in your daily activities

Bathroom

Using less water in your bathroom can lead to high savings on your water and energy bills.

  • Consider installing a shower head with a lowflow rate. Your hardware or plumbing store will be able to advise you on shower heads with low-flow rates that match your shower fitting. Check its water rating label.
  • Install a simple, inexpensive tap aerator on your bathroom tap to reduce the flow rate by up to 50%. You can buy them from a plumber or hardware store, or from environment trusts.
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving. You will use around 1 litre of water instead of 5 litres.
  • See if you can limit showers to four minutes or less. You can help your kids remember this by buying a shower timer.
  • Check that your hot water system thermostat is not set too high. Adding cold water to cool down very hot water wastes water and energy. The recommended temperature setting is 60°C. Ask an electrician or plumber to adjust it if needed.
  • If you want a long relaxing soak, have a bath rather than a long shower.
  • Use a bucket to catch water while the shower warms up. You can pour this water on your garden afterwards.

Toilet

  • Check for leaks. Small drips leaking from your toilet cistern can result in thousands of litres wasted. Put a few drops of food colouring in the cistern. If colouring ends up in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Have it repaired.
  • Do not use your toilet as a rubbish bin. You not only waste water but also risk causing a blockage in your plumbing. More information about Preventing overflows
  • If you need to replace your toilet, consider buying one with a dual flush. Check its water rating label. The latest four-star toilets use as little as 3 litres for a half flush and 4.5 litres for a full flush. Most toilets in Auckland use around 7 litres per flush and older toilets use around 12 litres per flush.
  • If you have a single-flush toilet you can make it more efficient by:
    • Installing a gizmo. A gizmo is a simple weight that hangs inside the cistern tube and stops the toilet from flushing when you take your finger off the button, so you control how long each flush lasts. You can get one from EcoMatters Environment Trust for a few dollars.
    • Putting an object such as a water-filled, sealed, plastic milk bottle or jar inside the cistern. Place it in a way that does not stop your toilet working properly. Don’t use a brick - it may disintegrate and damage your toilet.

Laundry

Up to a quarter of your household’s water is used in the laundry. An inefficient washing machine can use 200 litres of water per wash. Replacing it is one of the biggest water savings you can make in your home.
  • Front-loading washing machines typically use about 50% less water, 35% less detergent and 30% less energy than equivalent-sized top-loading washing machines, making them the most cost-effective option. Check the water rating label.
  • Wash full loads whenever possible. This will save water and energy.
  • When washing clothes by hand, use a bucket instead of leaving the tap running. You could reuse this water on your garden straight after (avoid the vegetable patch as this water may contain microbes). Using a biodegradable detergent with low phosphorus, sodium and nitrogen will be better for your garden.

Kitchen

Washing dishes

  • With modern dishwashers, there is no need to rinse your dishes first. If your dishes are not clean after going through the cycle, you may need to clean or repair your dishwasher.
  • When hand-washing dishes, fill the sink rather than rinsing and washing the dishes under a running tap.
  • A simple tap aerator on your kitchen tap can reduce the flow of water into your sink. A swivel tap aerator has two flow settings and allows you to direct the water to where it is needed. Tap aerators are inexpensive and available from hardware, plumbing stores and environment trusts.
  • When replacing your dishwasher, compare the water rating of different models. Modern dishwashers use up to 60% less water than older models and are as efficient as hand washing. Dishwashers with five-star water ratings use as little as 7 litres of water per wash.

Cooking

  • Use a bowl to scrub vegetables in the kitchen sink. You can pour the water on your plants.
  • Keep water in a covered jug in the fridge. It saves running the tap to get cold water.
  • Rather than running tap water over frozen food to thaw it, plan ahead and let it defrost in the fridge for a few hours. If you are in a hurry, the microwave is a more efficient option than running water.
  • Choose healthy ways of cooking that also use little water. Steaming, or using a pressure cooker, keeps more nutrients in the food and saves on energy and water.
  • Empty your water bottles onto your plants instead of in the sink.
  • If you have a sink waste disposal unit, be aware that it can increase your water use. Why not compost your food waste instead? The Kaipatiki Project provides free composting courses throughout Auckland, funded by Auckland Council. The council also offers a discount on composting systems.

Outdoors

Being waterwise outside means you can reduce the volume of high-quality drinking water used on lawns, plants and pavements.

Using water outside in summer puts a strain on water supplies when resources are scarce. Peak summer use drives the need to find further water sources for Auckland.

Water savings will benefit the environment, as well as saving you money.

Tips for waterwise gardening

Cleaning and car washing

  • Use a broom to sweep your paths and driveway rather than a hose.
  • Use a bucket of soapy water to clean the car and the house windows. Only use the hose for a quick spray to finish.
  • When washing your car, the wash water contains dirt from tyres, fuel and road materials. This can be harmful to the environment if you put it in the stormwater system. The ideal solution is to take your car to a carwash, which captures and treats all wash water. The next best method is to wash your car on the lawn using minimal and eco-friendly detergent so that the water drains onto the lawn rather than into the stormwater system.

Swimming pools

You pay the full cost of the water used to fill up a pool – the volumetric water charge – and the volumetric wastewater charge. To reduce evaporation and the need to top up, use a pool cover or pool blanket. 
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