Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: how a variety of free gadgets can help you save water.

Here in the UK you'd be forgiven for thinking that our abundant supply of rain means we’re okay water-wise – but you’d be wrong. While climate change is giving rise to more extreme weather events such as storms and floods, it’s also responsible for long periods of drought-like conditions and heatwaves – some of which can prove deadly. The summer heatwaves of 2019 alone resulted in almost 900 extra deaths, according to Public Health England.

Water companies capture much less rain than people commonly assume, and parts of the UK are already under water stress: according to the Energy Saving Trust 12 out of the 23 water companies operating in England are rated as being under ‘serious’ stress. In the UK, we use on average 140 litres of water per person every day, and that figure is only set to increase.

Along with population increase, there is growing risk of supply not being able to meet demand. This is why it’s so vital that we take steps to conserve water where we can. Doing so not only ensures a sustainable supply of water for everyone in the future, but also minimises the amount of additional water resources being taken out of our rivers, which helps protect important ecosystems and wildlife. Additionally, being mindful of the way we use water also helps to limit the energy consumption associated with things like water treatment plants and hot showers.

The good news is that there are loads of water-saving gizmos and gadgets available to help you with this – a lot of them will do all the hard work for you. The even better news is that many of them are completely free for households across the UK. Water companies around the country have a plethora of free devices ready and waiting for their customers – all you have to do is ask. Get in touch with your water company (find their details here) to see what they can offer you.

Here are some of the most common water-saving accessories, and how they work.

ShowerSave

This little device fits neatly between your shower head and hose, and could save the average household 30 litres of water a day. It works by using ‘flow regulator technology’, keeping the flow of water through your shower at a constant 7.6 litre per minute thereby reducing the amount of water and energy wasted every time you shower. (Not suitable for electric showers, unfortunately).

Tap inserts

Did you know that water can flow out of a household tap at a mighty 10 litres per minute? That’s a lot of wasted water while you brush your teeth or wash your hands! These smart little devices help to reduce the flow rate to just five litres a minute, and because they cause the water to aerate, you won’t even notice any difference in pressure.

Save a Flush

Flushing the toilet is one of the biggest water wasting activities in the world – after all, you’re literally flushing water down the loo.  Now we’re not suggesting you forgo a necessary flush although in many hotter countries this is common practise using the phrase “if it’s yellow let it mellow!” However, if you have an older toilet without a dual flush, try a Save-a-Flush device. These bags contain biodegradable polymers which swell on contact with water, so simply pop it in your cistern and it will displace a litre of water every time you flush. And, brilliantly, when it’s time to replace it you can empty the contents of the bag onto your garden, and the polymer will aid water retention in the soil. Bonus!

Water Hippo

Another device is the ever popular Water Hippo which sits neatly in your toilet cistern and saves up to three litres of water per flush by keeping hold of water that would otherwise simply be flushed away. Don’t worry, it features a small relief valve so the water doesn’t become stagnant! According to its makers, installing a Water Hippo in your toilet can save enough water to make 35,000 cups of tea a year.

Toilet leak detection strips

It isn’t always easy to spot water leaking down the back of the toilet pan, but if you’ve got one of these errant leaks you could be wasting up to 400 litres of water a day! These handy strips are really easy to use and will let you know whether you’ve got a leak or not. They’re also made of biodegradable water soluble paper, so they’ll flush away without any environmental impact.

The bottom line

Water is absolutely vital for the health of wildlife, people and the planet, but the effects of climate change are only going to make it an increasingly scarce resource. By applying for some free water-saving accessories you’ll be making a positive difference to future water supplies – and at absolutely no cost to you! To find out more about saving water visit Waterwise.

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