Every day in the UK each person uses approximately 150 litres of water, but have you ever wondered how the water you use on a daily basis reaches your home? From turning on the tap to washing your hands to taking a shower and filling the kettle, the water most of us take for granted is put through strict tests and treatment processes to ensure it is safe to use.
How do we use water in our home?
Water is a precious resource, even though it may not feel like it in the UK! Every time we take a shower or put the washing machine on, we underestimate or ignore the environmental and financial impact. Sometimes it’s the simplest of actions that can result in the biggest savings. If every household in the UK reduced their shower time by just one minute, it would save £215 million in energy bills a year.
According to WaterWise this is how a typical household uses water:
- Toilet flushing – 30%
- Personal washing baths and taps – 21%
- Showering – 12%
- Clothes washing – 13%
- Washing up – 8%
- Outdoor – 7%
- Drinking – 4%
- Other – 5%
So as you can see, the bathroom accounts for the more than half of the water used in the home.
Heating up water to take a shower or to wash clothes not only has an impact on energy bills, but also releases greenhouses gases linking it to climate change. Approximately 25% of a household’s energy bill comes from heating water, and hot water accounts for 5% of UK greenhouse gas emissions.
How does water get into our home?
The water that comes out of your tap falls directly from the sky, which then flows into rivers and streams, or it flows through the earth to form groundwater. Compared to surface water, groundwater is less vulnerable to pollution, and this is the main reason it’s mostly used for domestic water supply.
Some authorities pump the water direct to the treatment plant, but many bigger facilities store water in reservoirs. This ensures a consistent supply of water, and the water that’s in the reservoirs also benefits from a natural cleaning process.
To remove large pieces of debris and dirt, the water has to be filtered. The water has to be as clear as possible to prevent blockages during the more extensive filtering process.
The next stage is to remove harmful particles from the water. The first step to this is called flocculation, and this is where a solution is added to the water to make the particles coagulate so they are easier to remove. The particles are then removed through two individual filters to ensure that the highest quality of drinking water is supplied. The first filter is a rapid gravity filter, which is a tank full of coarse sand that traps the particles as the water passes through.
Next, the water passes through another filter containing finer sand, this is called a slow and filter, which traps particles that may not have been picked up in the first stage.
The last and final step in the treatment process is to add a very small amount of chlorine to the water. Adding less than one milligram per litre won’t be harmful to humans, but it will still kill nasty bacteria to keep your water safe.
At each stage of the filtering process, the water has been tested, so it can be dealt with efficiently if anything harmful is found. The water is now safe to drink and can be pumped into the water supply network for you to enjoy.
How to save water in the home
Here’s some simple but very effective ways in which you can save water in your home…
1. Turn off the tap – A running tap can waste over 6 litres per minute, and if each adult in England and Wales turned off the tap when brushing their teeth, we could save an impressive 180 litres a day, which is enough to supply almost 500,000 homes!
2. Fix a dripping tap – There’s nothing more annoying than a dripping tap, especially as it can waste approximately 1460 litres of water per year! Follow our step-by-step guide and video on how to fix a dripping tap.
3. Have a shorter shower – A bath can use approximately 80 litres of water, but a short shower can use as little as a third of that amount. But just be aware that power showers can use more than a bath, especially if you’re one to spend ages showering! Try and take a short shower, and maybe even use a timer to help you cut down minutes.
4. Put rubbish in the bin not down the loo– Do not flush cotton balls, face wipes, wet wipes or anything else that belongs in bin down the toilet. This wastes water and causes blockages, so avoid at all costs!
5. Fill up the dishwasher & washing machine– You can save water by filling up the dishwasher and washing machine rather than switching them on when there’s only half a load. It’s a good idea to use an eco-friendly cycle that uses less water and energy.
6. Cold water – Instead of running the kitchen tap for ages for cold water, fill a jug with tap water and leave it to cool in the fridge.
7. Wash fruit & veg in a bowl – Avoid washing fruit and veg under a running tap, and instead wash them in a bowl to help reduce water waste. The leftover water can be used on plants.
10 amazing water facts
Here’s 10 water related facts that may just surprise you! Feel free to share this infographic by copying the below embed code and pasting it into your website’s content management system.
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