IT'S been a dry winter in many parts of the country but small changes in habits and choice of appliances can add up to big water savings, say consumer advocate CHOICE.
"As we experience drier weather and below-average rainfall in many parts of Australia, it's more important than ever that we think about how much water we're using and wasting, every day," says CHOICE spokesperson Pru Engel.
"Whether you're in a small inner-city apartment or on a sprawling property, there are simple things you can do to that will save water and really make a difference."
1. Water-audit your washing machine
Your choice of washing machine can waste hundreds of thousands of litres over a lifetime.
"CHOICE recommends front-loading machines when it comes to water use - you can save up to 70 per cent compared to a top-loader," says Engel.
"If you're stuck with a water wasting machine, you can limit the damage by only running full loads or look for an eco-setting."
2. Use your dishwasher instead of washing up in the sink
The average water consumption of dishwashers tested at CHOICE is approximately 13 litres per wash, whereas studies have shown hand washing the equivalent of a fully loaded dishwasher can use up to as much as 100 litres.
"Anyone who is sick of doing the dishes in the kitchen sink, you now have an excuse to avoid it," says Engel.
"Dishwashers can be much more efficient than us humans, so investing in a dishwasher can not only save arguments about who has to wash the dishes, but also save you money on your water bill."
3. Get toilet (re)trained
Every time you flush, you can use up to nine litres of water, depending on the efficiency of your toilet.
"The difference between that full flush and half flush button can be thousands of litres per year," says Engel.
"Many of us simply use the full flush out of habit. Challenge yourself and your household to try the half flush - you'll likely find it's just as effective."
4. Take a shorter shower
Cut your shower time in half. Current shower heads typically pump out six to nine litres a minute.
"Taking a shorter shower is an obvious water-saving tip, but the difference you can make depends hugely on your shower head," says Engel.
"Cutting your shower down from eight minutes to four minutes could save around 250L per week, or even more if you have a more efficient shower head."
5. Re-use and recycle
"While CHOICE doesn't actually recommend reusing untreated wash water from your washing machine on the garden (due to the potential chemicals from your detergents), you can definitely re-use the cleaner rinse water," says Engel.
Just stop your washing machine before it drains the water and siphon it out into a bucket using a plastic tube (find out more about reusing greywater here). If you have a condenser or heat pump dryer you can use the water collected when drying your laundry to water the plants.
"You can also use a bucket to collect the running water while your shower warms up. And in the kitchen, don't pour the water leftover from cooking pasta, eggs or vegetables down the drain - use it to water your pot plants. Every little bit helps."
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