Tips for saving water in the bathroom

June 23, 2015

Ever since the dawn of indoor plumbing, we've been used to wasting more water than we need. Here are a few ways to correct that problem.

Tips for saving water in the bathroom

1. Bath or shower?

  • A bath is generally assumed to use far more water than a shower, but it depends on the efficiency of your shower and how frugal you are in the bath.
  • A low bath will use about 50L (13 gal) of water, whereas a full one may consume 150 L (39 gal).
  • An inefficient showerhead can use up to 23 L (six gal) a minute; so, within just over two minutes, you'll have used as much as a low bath and if you hang around for seven minutes, you'll have used more than a full bath.
  • In contrast, an efficient showerhead uses just nine L (two gal) a minute, so a three- or four-minute shower will consume significantly less than a low bath.

2. Take shorter showers

  • Every minute less spent in the shower can save up to 23 L (six gal) of water.
  • Alternately, you can get wet, then turn the water off as you soap up, then turn it back on to rinse.

3. Toilet training

  • When buying a new toilet, choose a model with a high water rating or water conservation rating.
  • Fit an efficient dual-flush toilet and use the half-flush option. It can save about eight L of water per flush.
  • Alternatively, install a toilet-flush regulator (or cistern system convertor). This allows you to control the amount of water that is flushed: the water is released for only as long as you hold the button. It can save as much as 5,000 L(1,320 gal) of water a year.
  • Even if you don't have a dual-flush toilet, you can still reduce the amount of water used per flush by installing your own regulator. Fill a large plastic bottle with water and put it in the cistern, making sure it doesn't interfere with the flush mechanism. Its size will dictate how much you save: a 3-L (12 cups) container will save three L (12 cups) of water per flush.
  • Always buy toilet paper made from recycled paper, and avoid papers that have been chlorine-bleached or have had perfumes or colours added to them.
  • Use biodegradable toilet cleaners that have low toxicity, such as plant-based organic products or borax and vinegar. Many antibacterial disinfectants destroy the bacteria required to break down sewage.
  • Do not put sanitary napkins, tampons or condoms down the toilet as they are likely to cause blockages in the outlet pipes.

4. The water-free toilet

  • A composting toilet requires no water and relatively little maintenance.
  • The waste drops into a large tank in the subfloor, where it slides slowly down a sloping base.
  • By the time it reaches the lowest part of the tank, where a door allows access, it has turned into A-grade organic manure.

5. Why do it?

If water is in short supply or normal sewerage services are not available – or you just want to do your utmost for the environment.

6. Choosing a system

  • Buy a commercially available model.
  • It will have been tried and tested and come with a range of accessories.
  • Make sure, however, that it meets local authority regulations.

7. Essential features

  • Air ducts or a fan to aerate the waste.
  • An extractor fan to dissipate fumes.

8. Optional extras

You may also want:

  • a hatch that allows you to add organic matter;
  • a heater to maintain an optimum temperature in cool areas;
  • revolving tanks to stagger delivery of compost;
  • a solar panel to run the fan.
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