Thursday, 10th October 2013: Water is an important part of our daily lives. Many of us take it for granted – we wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush our teeth, grab a cuppa and head out for the day but as a recent survey* by Irish Water reveals, the majority of us (81%) misjudge how much water we actually use at home on a daily basis.
The independent research – unveiled today by Irish Water as part of a public information campaign to inform and engage consumers about the value of water and the benefits of transforming our national water and wastewater services – offers insights into the water usage habits of the Irish.
According to current estimates** each person consumes approximately 150 litres of water per day. That equates to almost two full bathtubs of water per person per day or 54,750 litres of water per person each year - most of which is flushed away every day.
Showers are one of the biggest consumers of water in Irish households. The average 7 minute shower uses up to 49 litres of hot water while power showers can use up to 175 litres in the same period. The majority (65%) of those surveyed have a power shower at home, which means in a year many of us are individually washing away over 63,800 litres of water - that’s 112,456 pints – on showering alone. Reducing your shower time by just one minute could save up to 9,000 litres of water per year.
Brushing your teeth with the tap running is one of the most common ways of wasting water in the home with approximately six litres of water used per minute. By turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, it is estimated that up to 7,000 litres of water can be saved per year.
When it comes to doing laundry, 81% of respondents underestimate how much water an average washing machine uses per load. However, 90% say they fully load the washing machine which helps to conserve water and save money by reducing energy bills. The average washing machine uses up to 65 litres of water per cycle, so one wash per household in Ireland equates to 104 million litres of water.
There are also savings to be made when brewing a cuppa. We tend to overfill our kettles in Ireland, with 67% of respondents admitting to using more water than they need. Using only the required amount of water each time will mean more money in your pocket and less water down the drain.
Awareness of household water saving devices is low according to the research but this is likely to change as people become more water conscious with the introduction of water metering in Ireland. More than half of those surveyed (54%) have no idea what a toilet displacement device is which can reduce the volume of water per flush by up to 3 litres. In addition, 28% of those surveyed with a garden have never heard of a water butt which is a container for collecting rainwater from the roof and downpipes. The rainwater can then be used for watering plants or washing the car.
Elizabeth Arnett from Irish Water said, “It’s clear from the findings that many of us are unaware of the sheer volume of water we are using on a daily basis. However, it also confirms that there are many opportunities for us to reduce water wastage. Understanding how much water we use will help us determine how much we can save. Irish Water will use the metering programme as an opportunity to gather information on water consumption habits which will help customers to improve water efficiency measures over time.”
“Water is our most precious natural resource and the provision of a reliable water and wastewater service is expensive. It currently costs the state approximately €1.2 billion per annum to run the public water system. To maintain and indeed improve our current system we need to invest in this service. In advance of water charges being introduced in 2015, there are simple steps people can take to make a big difference to the amount of water they use on a daily basis.”
*The independent survey was carried out by Ignite Research among 2,011 people aged 16+ in ROI
**Source: www.taptips.ie based on current estimates taken by Dublin local authorities
Irish Water’s Top Tips for Conserving Water:
• Leak free: Check that your home is leak free. Check for running overflows and fix any dripping taps, cisterns or pipes
• Don’t let the tap run: Brushing your teeth with the tap running can use up to a staggering 6 litres per minute. Brushing your teeth with the tap off will use a more modest 1 litre of water
• Shower vs. Bath: The average bath uses 80 litres of water compared to an average shower using 49 litres in seven minutes. Switch your bath to a shower for a massive water saving
• Less time: With the average shower using 7 litres of water per minute by turning your five minute shower into four minutes, you could save up to 7 litres of water per day!
• Fully loaded: Always ensure your dishwasher and washing machines are fully loaded. A modern washing machine uses approximately 65 litres of water per cycle while a dishwasher uses 20 litres. By ensuring they are fully loaded, not only will you conserve water but you will also reduce your energy bills
• Don’t flush it all away: A third of all water used in the home is flushed down the toilet. Some larger cisterns can continue to work effectively with a smaller flush. Place a displacement device into the cistern (out of the way of moving parts) to save water
• Don’t forget to collect: Rainwater is excellent for your garden. Collect it in a water butt from your gutters but always make sure to securely cover the large container for safety
• For further information about Irish Water see www.water.ie .