Cutting water consumption at home is an easy and efficient climate action. You can start by spending less time in the shower.
In Finland, we’re not running out of water anytime soon but, despite that, environmentally conscious consumers pay attention to the sensible consumption of water. When you turn on the tap, you don’t necessarily think that producing water requires plenty of energy that causes emissions.
“By far the most energy is spent on heating water. Energy is also required for the purification and pumping of water as well as wastewater processing,” says Teemu Kettunen, an Expert at Motiva.
For instance, the service water of apartment buildings is usually heated using district heating. The use of renewable energy forms is continuously on the rise, but part of district heating is still produced using fossil fuels.
14 buckets a day
An inhabitant of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area uses an average of 140 litres of water a day. That equals 14 buckets.
“That’s quite a lot if you imagine carrying that from a well. Of course, the amount of water varies greatly from one person to the next. Some people use less than 100 litres a day, whereas others may consume up to 300 litres,” says Kirsi Sivonen, Energy Expert at Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY.
When asked, only a few people can say how much water they use at home. If you want to be more aware, you can start by paying attention to your water consumption for a week. This will help you to understand when you could save water.
“Some people use less than 100 litres a day, whereas others may consume up to 300 litres.”
“Water consumption is something we can easily affect with our own actions, and we don’t have to give up anything or have a less comfortable life in order to save water,” says Sivonen.
Of the water used in a household, 40 per cent is typically used on showering. It also requires the most warm water that requires energy.
In this light, it’s no wonder that the most significant saving tips can be found in the bathroom.
A shorter shower serves the same purpose
Are you aware of how many minutes your daily shower session lasts? Few people have clocked it but you definitely should. It’s easy to do by using a smartphone’s timer, for instance. The result may be surprising.
“It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts in the shower so you might spend a surprisingly long amount of time in there,” says Sivonen.
If you are in the shower for 20 minutes, a total of 240 litres of water runs down the drain. That equals 24 buckets. Of the used water, 60 per cent is heated, so a 20-minute shower consumes about the same amount of energy than a refrigerator-freezer in two weeks.
In comparison, the water consumption during a five-minute shower is 60 litres. The energy consumption corresponds to a refrigerator-freezer’s consumption in three days.
Turn on the tap only when you need water
You can cut your water consumption when showering by turning off the tap when you are shampooing or washing yourself. This can easily conserve a bucket of water, or even two.
In addition, brushing your teeth will consume a surprising amount of water if you let the faucet run while brushing. In two minutes, you can let a few buckets of water run down the drain.
Turning off the faucet for brushing your teeth results in considerable savings. You can cut your water consumption even further if you use a mug to rinse your teeth after brushing them.
Use the dual flush button in the bathroom
After showering, most water at home is spent on flushing the toilet. Depending on the style and adjustments of the toilet, one flush usually requires about 6–9 litres of water. When going to the bathroom, you should make use of the dual button you probably have on your toilet. The dual button lets you choose between a smaller or a larger flush depending on your need.
“The small flush cuts the consumption in half,” says Sivonen.
Toilet leaks should be fixed immediately
A toilet can turn into a household’s greatest water consumer if it starts to sneakily leak because of a worn-down seal, for instance.
If the defect isn’t repaired, the leak will only grow larger over time. Then we are talking about a very large amount of wasted water. If a toilet leaks one litre of water per hour, in all 10,000 litres of water will be wasted in a week. That corresponds to 1,000 buckets!
“You should report a leak in your toilet immediately once you detect it. Also, if your bathroom or kitchen faucet is leaking, the best thing is to get it fixed as soon as possible because it might waste a lot of water,” recommends Sivonen.
According to Teemu Kettunen, toilet leaks are fairly common. It may be hard to notice a surprisingly large leak with the naked eye.
“That’s why it’s good to do a leak test a few times a year by placing a piece of toilet paper inside the toilet bowl in the back underneath the rim. If the paper gets wet, the toilet is leaking,” says Kettunen.
If your toilet is leaking, the easiest way for Lumo residents to handle it by reporting the leak using the My Lumo service at: lumo.fi/vikailmoitus.
Use the plug in the kitchen sink
There are also easy ways for saving water when doing chores in the kitchen and when cleaning.
Washing and rinsing dishes under running water consumes a lot of water. Consumption decreases when you use the plug you can find in the sink. Despite the plug, washing dishes manually consumes considerably more water than using a dishwasher.
Most dishwashers only need around 10–12 litres of water per wash.
“Regardless of this, you should load the dishwasher full before turning it on,” states Kirsi Sivonen.
Many people rinse dirty plates under running water before placing them in the dishwasher.
“It is often unnecessary as long as you scrape most of the food scraps into the biowaste container and clean the dishwasher’s filter regularly,” says Kirsi Sivonen.
Also prefer full loads when washing clothes. Usually washing machines also have useful water saving and half-load cycles.
“Sometimes you can also think if you really need to wash something. Instead of washing, airing out the garment could be enough,” says Sivonen.
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