Smart Consumer: How to save your money from going down the drain
I have no idea how much water I use at home. Do you? Do you take five minutes in the shower? That will use 35 litres. But if you have a power shower you're talking 125 litres for the same time. Wash your teeth with the tap running and 6 lts a minute is heading down the sink, but only 1 lt in total if you brush with the tap off.
Then there is the issue of toilet flushing. A standard loo will use 9 litres a go, so will you opt to flush only when really needed? Colm Griffin of purchase.ie, a finalist in this year's green retailer awards, says some people swear by the phrase "if it's yellow let it mellow; if it's brown flush it down".
Griffin says: "Most of us have been guilty of taking an unnecessarily long shower or running the kitchen tap for ages letting good water flow down the drain as we await the water to reach our desired temperature."
He adds: "Letting water flow unused down the drain really is a bit of a sin."
Well, it's one sin that will cost us dearly come 2014 when water charges will be introduced. Whether meters will be installed in each household as the Coalition pledged in their programme for government or whether it'll be a flat rate remains to be seen.
Remember, water isn't limitless, nor is it free. Only 1 pc of the world's water is available for human consumption, the rest is sea and ice. In 2010 water services cost the State a massive €1.2 billion to run. And right now we're the only country in the OECD where households don't have to pay directly for water use.
So it's no harm to start planning now; thinking about your water usage habits and what you can do to save water and, ultimately, your cash.
It's all about keeping the plug in the sink and turning the tap off when shaving or brushing your teeth. Fix any leaky taps and check that your cistern isn't leaking. If it is, that will waste 16,000 litres a year.
The bath will have to be kept for special occasions because it uses 80 litres compared to 30/35 litres for a five-minute shower, and power-shower devotees will have to use their 125 litres per five-minute guzzlers advisedly. You could buy an aerated shower-head that uses half the water (€34.95 at purchase.ie*).
If you have a toilet with a half flush or dual flush system you can use that, or get a water-saving device to put in the cistern.
A Hippo the Water Saver device saves around three litres per flush and costs €3.30 from ecotreasures.ie, or a Toilet Tummy costs €9.95 for a pack of two at purchase.ie.
What type of device suits best will depend on the age of your cistern, as pre-1993 ones are less efficient. Some say inserting a filled two-litre bottle of water will work as well.
Common sense prevails here too -- keep a covered water jug in the fridge for drinking rather than over-using the tap, use a filled bowl to wash fruit and veg rather than running under the tap; steam veg instead of boiling and just fill the kettle with the amount you need.
Make sure you've a full load in the washing machine (it uses 65 on a full cycle, a little less litres for more modern machines) and don't use the dishwasher unless it's full because it uses 20 litres a time.
To limit the amount of water coming from your tap you could buy a tap aerator (€9.95 at purchase.ie) or a time-controlled one at watersave.ie for €30. You could buy a sensor tap if you prefer and pay up to €200.
In the garden it's all about using a 'water butt' to catch rain water from down pipes to water plants and wash the car. You'll pay around €60 for one or many hundreds for a full system. Use a watering can, not a sprinkler and limit the paddling pools. Sure we don't get much of a summer these days, so the kids won't notice!
Purchase.ie has 10pc off products during May when you use the code May10.