How to Do a Water Usage Audit on your Home

By checking how much water you use in your household, you could identify ways to save up to 40% a year. This article is full of information that will help you to: Conduct a simple water usage audit in your home Learn how...
April 17, 2016
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By checking how much water you use in your household, you could identify ways to save up to 40% a year.

This article is full of information that will help you to:

  • Conduct a simple water usage audit in your home
  • Learn how much water is used and how it might be wasted
  • Learn how to save water in your home

Image courtesy of John K, flickr,CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ever thought about how much water you and your family use?

According to savewater.com.au, the average Australian individual uses about 200 litres of water a day. This equates to over 290,000 litres per annum for a four person household.

Out of that 200 litre daily total, we only use around 5-10 litres per day on life-sustaining activities such as food preparation and drinking.

There are those who may disagree with the fact that activities such as bathing, washing clothes and doing dishes are classified as lifestyle or discretionary, but the truth is that they are and that’s where the majority of our water usage goes.

Another fact to consider is that about half the water consumed in Australia’s cities and towns ends up as wastewater and in a country with areas where water is such a precious commodity, that’s a scary statistic. You’ll be amazed at how much water you waste inadvertently every day. The good news is that cutting down on your water consumption is a lot easier than you think and, as an added bonus, it will save you significant amounts of money on your monthly utility bill.

Our questionnaire will point out the areas of your home where you use the most water and suggest a few simple habits you can change to save this precious resource.

Image courtesy of Joby Elliott, flickr,CC BY 2.0

QUESTIONNAIRE

Personal Information

How many people in the household?

Rooms

Kitchen

In the household, the kitchen is a large consumer of water with about 10% of all water used for cooking, drinking and washing up.

  1. Do you have a dishwasher? YES / NO
  2. How many times a week do you use your dishwasher?________
  3. Do you have tap aerators or flow restrictors on your tap? YES / NO
  4. How many times a week do you wash your dishes by hand?_______
  5. Do your taps leak? YES / NO

WATER SAVING TIPS IN THE KITCHEN

FACT: A dishwasher uses 10-12 litres of water per wash, which, surprisingly, is less than you would use doing the dishes by hand.

HINT: If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher look for one with a WELS (National Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards) scheme, which rates appliances according to their water efficiency. The more stars on the label, the more cost-effective it is. Only switch on your dishwasher when it’s full.

FACT: Dripping taps can waste 30–200 litres of water per day.

HINT: Replacing the washer or other parts will often solve the problem.

FACT: Aerators and regulators for taps are inexpensive and can reduce water flow by 50%.

HINT: Don’t rinse dishes under running water when you’re washing up by hand. If you have two sinks, fill one with water to rinse your cutlery and crockery. Use washing-up liquid sparingly to reduce the amount of rinse water needed.

FACT: Aerators and regulators for taps are inexpensive and can reduce water flow by 50%.

HINT: Don’t rinse dishes under running water when you’re washing up by hand. If you have two sinks, fill one with water to rinse your cutlery and crockery. Use washing-up liquid sparingly to reduce the amount of rinse water needed.

Laundry

The laundry is a big water consumer in the home, with 15-20% of water being used for cleaning clothes.

Do you have an automatic washing machine? YES / NO

WATER SAVING TIPS IN THE LAUNDRY

FACT: A washing machine uses about 53 to 94.6 litres of water per load. Did you know a top loading washing machine typically uses 80 litres per load compared to a front load machine which uses only 30 litres per load. Plus the front load machine uses less energy as well.

HINT: Again, opt for a machine with a four-star WELS rating and only switch on the machine when you have a full load – this can save you about 10 litres per wash.

Bathroom

  1. How long does each member of your household take on average in the shower?________
  2. Do you have a water-saving shower head? YES / NO How many times a week are baths taken in your household? ?______
  3. What type of flush does your toilet use? DUAL FLUSH / SINGLE FLUSH
  4. Does your toilet leak? YES / NO
  5. Do you let the water run when brushing your teeth? YES / NO
  6. Do you flush the toilet every time you use it? YES / NO
  7. Do your taps leak? YES / NO

WATER SAVING TIPS IN THE BATHROOM

FACT: It takes about 80 litres to run a bath.

HINT: A 5-minute shower only uses 45 litres water. You’ll save even more water by using a water-efficient showerhead. If you do prefer to bath, only use as much water as necessary, and use less for children and pets.
While you’re waiting for the water to run hot in either a bath or a shower, place a bucket under the tap to collect the water for other uses such as watering your garden or washing your car.

FACT: A running tap wastes about 16 litres of water per minute.

HINT: Rather fill a cup or glass with water to rinse your mouth. The same goes for rinsing your razor.

FACT: Everytime you flush the toilet you use about 6 litres of water.

HINT: There are a number of gadgets on the market that help reduce the amount of water you use on each flush. A cheaper alternative to reduce the water used in a flush is to place a plastic bottle filled with water in the cistern. Leaks in your toilet can also waste water. You can check for leaks by adding a few drops of food colouring to the cistern and leave it for about half an hour. Check the bowl, if there are coloured streaks, you have a leak which needs fixing.

Outdoors

  1. Do you have a pool? YES / NO
  2. If you do, how often do you top it up? Summer/Spring__________ Winter / Autumn _________________
  3. Do you have an irrigation system? YES / NO
  4. If yes, how many times a week do you use it? Summer/Spring_________ Winter /Autumn______________
  5. Do you use a hosepipe to wash your car? YES / NO

WATER SAVING TIPS FOR OUTDOORS

FACT: An uncovered pool loses about 6,766 litres of water to evaporation a year.

HINT: Use a pool cover or blanket to minimise evaporation. They are also a good safety measure for small children and reduces the need for cleaning during the winter months. Consider installing a rainwater tank to fill your pool, rather than using mains water.

FACT: An irrigation system uses 1500 to 2500 litres of water.

HINT: Set the timer to avoid the heat of the day, or consider a rainwater tank. Use drip irrigation instead of sprayers.

Planting indigenous and water-wise plants and lawns can also reduce the amount of water you need for your garden. Make use of irrigation drippers in your garden as well as introducing native plants which are a lot more water efficient.

FACT: It takes about 300 litres of water to wash your car.

HINT: Rather use a bucket to wash your car. You can use water from your bath or shower or treated greywater.

If you do use a hose, use one with a trigger nozzle so the water isn’t running continually.

Conclusion

This straightforward water audit will show you your key wastage areas and highlight the places in your home where you can save water by implementing simple water saving measures and conservation practices.

Summary of water saving tips and tricks

1) When purchasing a washing machine or dishwasher, ensure that it has a good WELS (National Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme) rating. The more stars on the label, the less wasteful it is. Also consider a front loading machine as they are generally more water efficient.
2) Avoid doing unnecessary cycles: wait until your dishwasher or washing machine is full before running it.
3) Don’t rinse dishes under running water when you’re washing dishes by hand. If you have two sinks, rather fill the other one with water and use it to rinse your cutlery and crockery.
4) When washing dishes by hand, use washing-up liquid sparingly to reduce the amount of rinsing water needed.
5) Shower instead of bathing most evenings and install a water-efficient showerhead. If you do prefer to bath, only use as much water as necessary and use less for children and pets.
6) While you’re waiting for the water to run hot in either a bath or a shower, place a bucket under the tap to collect the cold water and use it for other purposes, like watering your plants.
7) A running tap wastes about 16 litres of water per minute: rather fill a cup or glass with water to rinse your mouth or your razor.
8) Every time you flush the toilet you use about 6 litres of water. Place a plastic bottle filled with water in the cistern to save water – or investigate one of the many water-saving devices available for permanent installation.
9) Hairline fractures and leaks in your toilet bowl waste water. You can check for leaks by adding a few drops of food colouring to the cistern and leaving it for about half an hour. Check the bowl, if you see coloured streaks, you have a leak which needs fixing.
10) An uncovered pool loses about 6,766 litres of water to evaporation a year. Use a pool cover or blanket to minimise evaporation and consider installing a rainwater tank to fill your pool instead of using mains water. Most states offer rebates if you install a rainwater tank and the overall water and cost savings are significant.
11) Set your irrigation timer to avoid the heat of the day and make use of irrigation drippers in your garden. Planting indigenous and water-wise plants and lawns will also reduce the amount of water you need to keep your garden looking good.
12) Don’t leave the hose running when you wash your car – use a bucket instead. If you do need to use a hose, use one with a trigger nozzle so the water isn’t running continually.

Small change: Big difference

Making a few small changes can save an astounding volume of water. Take these five simple changes for example, if you live in a house with 4 people…

  • Turning off the tap when you brush your teeth will save around 130ℓ per day.
  • Having a shower instead of a bath will save you around 100ℓ p/day.
  • Placing a plastic bottle in your cistern will save you around 28ℓ p/day.
  • Using a trigger nozzle or a bucket when washing your car will save up to 75 ℓ p/week.

Just these five changes alone will save your household about 120 000ℓ every year!

Being one of the most arid regions on earth, water scarcity is a serious and ever-present concern for Australia. Water is one of our country’s most valuable commodities and doing our bit to minimize wastage helps ensure the health of our country and the security of our future. Every drop of water saved is of vital importance; let’s work together to help conserve this precious resource.

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