The UK may feel like a wet country, but our rainfall is actually not as bad as you think it is. More importantly, it is unevenly spread in terms of geography and time. We have a variable climate, and while some times of the year are very wet, others are very dry. And there are marked differences in the amount of rain that falls throughout the country – the western and northerly areas receive the most rainfall, with a much drier south east. Indeed, it may surprise you to know that London’s average annual rainfall is only half that of Sydney in Australia. Climate change is making the problem worse, and it is predicted that our summers are going to get hotter in the next few years. This will be exacerbated by the fact that the UK population continues to rise, resulting in greater demand for water.
The Environment Agency is predicting that, unless we do something now, by 2050 there could be periods of the year when demand for fresh water is greater than the available supply… in the UK. A tipping point the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency calls the ‘jaws of death’. A sobering thought.
So what can you do?
The UK water companies are implementing large-scale solutions to solve future water shortages, such as plans to build new reservoirs and water desalination plants, and repair leaking infrastructure. But it’s also up to all of us to conserve water, and there’s plenty you can do to reduce your own water usage, especially in the bathroom.
In an average house, more than half of our daily water use is through the bathroom and toilet. While we’ve all heard the warnings about turning the tap off while we clean our teeth, there’s plenty more that can be done. Luckily bathroom manufacturers are designing water-saving products for the bathroom that will make saving water a lot easier.
Dual-flush toilets save water by giving you the option of how much water you need to flush every time you use the toilet – which could be as little as 20% of the water needed in a single-flush toilet.
There is a growing trend to fit pressure-assisted toilets in homes. The toilet is cleaned by a combination of water and compressed air, which means you get a more powerful flush using a lot less water. The additional benefit is that they are much more efficient than a gravity-assisted toilet, leaving your toilet cleaner and less likely to get clogged. The main downside is that they are noisier than the gravity-assisted toilets we’re used to.
Grey water recycling
Grey water is the water produced during the use of sinks, showers, washing machines and dishwashers. While it is not drinkable, with minimal filtering it is clean enough to be used to flush toilets, saving the total amount of water your household uses. Some businesses are saving huge amounts of water by installing systems that redirect grey water into the toilet cisterns or to outside taps, where it can be used to water grounds and wash vehicles and pathways.
For the domestic market, you can now get individual toilets with integrated sinks which direct the water you use to wash your hands directly into the toilet’s cistern. Perfect for the environmentally conscious as well as saving space in small cloakroom.
Smart baths and showers
Technology can help you get the perfect shower time and again without having to spend time running the water while you get the temperature right. It will also keep your water temperature constant even when other people in the house are using the taps.
Digital technology will also allow you to specify how long you want your shower to run for, turning the water off after a specified length of time. It can also help you create the perfect bath, making sure it’s the right temperature for you and stopping the flow when it reaches a certain level. Especially useful if you’re prone to forgetting you’re running a bath!
Instead of having a bath that’s the same depth from end to end, install a bath that’s designed with a shallow end, which saves water without stopping you from having a good soak. Designers have also developed a multi-functional bath which can be tilted in three directions depending on what type of bath you’d like, with all three settings delivering water savings when compared with a traditional bath.
If you are planning your new luxury bathroom, talk to us about water-saving technologies that will help you save water without loss of functionality or looks.