Thursday, 13 December 2012

Taking water saving to the next level

Sometimes I think people forget that water is a precious commodity, without access to clean water we would die. Think of all those people in the world who don't have any clean water, all the diseases they risk catching through drinking dirty water. Think of all those people who have to walk miles carrying their buckets of water back to their humble little houses. All we have to do is turn a tap and it's there instantly. We take it fior granted and we shouldn't.  
Years ago I remember using water willy nilly, it felt like it was free, but of course it wasn't, we paid for it through our household rates. Nowadays most people have a choice how they pay. Whether to continue to pay the set amount according to the rateable value of the house, or to change to a water meter. For me as a single householder, the best option was to get a water meter fitted. My bill went down considerably, now it is in my best interests to be very frugal with my water usage, because I am paying for every drop. 
There are some properties which are not suitable for meters, if you live in a block of flats for instance, or if access to the property is difficult. If you are a single occupant and you are unable to have a meter, there is a lower tariff that you can go on. Your water company won't offer it, you have to ask for it. Some people are afraid to go onto a meter because they think it's going to increase their bills, especially if they live in a house with several other family members. It is not necessarily the case, because you become more aware of  how you use it, and can make simple and common sense adjustments to your lifestyle, which will help to reduce your bill.
Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, a man from Anglian Water was coming to check out how I use my water, and help me to cut down my usage by fitting some bits and bobs. Ian the friendly plumber came and did the biz. First of all he checked for leaks, there were none, then he checked my meter and took a reading. He put the information into his computer gadget and was amazed that I had used only £300's worth of water in five years since the meter was fitted. That was the first of several surprises I had for him. He joked that I could probably tell him how to save water. I said follow me.
We then moved to the downstairs toilet. It's got an old fashioned cistern high up on the wall, it works perfectly. I decided there was no point in him climbing up there to fit a gadget inside to convert it into a dual flush. I mostly flush this with rain water, with the ocassional scrub and flush when it needs cleaning.  
Next to the kitchen, here Ian is fitting a new insert into the tap. This mixes air into the water and it comes out in a spray. You don't need to turn the tap on so far, because it comes out a lot faster giving the impression that far more water is coming out. I've always wanted one of these, I thought sprays were for posh houses and public toilets, ha ha.  
Next was the bathroom, Ian was amazed that I hadn't let my bath water down the plug hole, and was using it to flush the toilet. I explained that I couldn't have a shower and pointed to where the edge of the bath wasn't sealed against the wall, and besides, I don't like showers anyway. He said judging by the amount of water that was in the bath (recent bath), and the fact that I am not a frequent bather, I hadn't used any more water than I would have done by showering every day. That was good news for me. I always knew that my fortnightly bath didn't cost any more than a daily shower, in terms of amount of water used. I'm glad it has been confirmed. So I will carry on as I am, having a wash in the sink in between baths.
I thought it would be a good idea to have the dual flush converter fitted into this cistern, as this is the toilet I use most. I am hoping that my morning solids will disappear down the pan on the short flush, thus saving 50% of water each day. It takes Ian less than a minute to fit it. 
Ian rather sheepishly said that he would have to flush the toilet several times to test it, he apologised for wasting water, ha ha. There you are it works perfectly. I already have one of those plastic bottle water savers in there, and by using the short flush it will save me more water, and more money.
There were two other free gadgets on offer, but I didn't need either of them. There is an adapter which can be fitted to the shower which gives a constant 7.6 litres of water per minute, that sounds like a lot to me. I can wash my whole body in that much, in the sink. You'd have to be quick to take a shower in that time. And there is a free digital shower timer, which I also don't need. 
Ian is off now, to his next appointment. I think he enjoyed his visit, he did say that I was the most interesting person he had come across. I was chuffed. I thought it was funny that he called me an Eco Warrior. Thanks Ian, you made my day.  
He left me with this gift, no it's not chocolates, more's the pity, ha ha. Inside are two sachets of water storing gel. You mix it in with compost in your pots, containers and hanging baskets. It swells to absorb more than 400 times it's own weight in water, thus reducing the frequency of watering. There are also a couple of rain mats, which you put in the bottom of a container or basket. They hold the water so it doesn't run out of the bottom, then you only have to water every 7 - 10 days. Sounds good, watering pots is such a chore in the summer.
Anyway, I am quite chuffed with my freebies supplied by Anglian Water, and the nice young man who came to fit them. Here is a little bit more information about the scheme. I don't know if any other water authorities are offering the same service, you will need to check with your supplier.
If you are in the Anglian area and want the free water saving kit, go to their web site. Go there anyway if you are not sure, and put your post code, it will tell you if they can offer you the deal. You can apply online
http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/environment/using-water-wisely/we-products/
or you can ring free 08009755 567

This is not a promotional post, I am not endorsing this service for money or gifts. I sincerely believe that we should all be a little more carefull with our water usage, then there will be enough to go around.
Toodle pip.

28 comments:

  1. This post was so apt today, we got up to find that due to a burst water main at the bottom of our street, we had no water. Remembering your tips on cutting down on water, I had a quick stand-up wash at the sink and combed my hair through with water, then a quick blow dry and it didn't look too bad. We did have some cold water so I filled a pan to use for boiling the kettle and making a pan of soup for daughter, who brought her lovely baby (Dylan) over this afternoon. Water came back on at about 1.30pm but it's a timely reminder not to take it for granted.

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  2. You can make a fabric tube- preferably cotton and place a scant teaspoon of those gel crystals in it. In the summer , when it is hot, soak in water for 20 mins before wearing around your neck. This will keep you cool as the water evaporates . Great when cycling or hiking.
    Best wishes
    Brenda in the Boro
    www.cyclinginthesixthdecade.Wordpress.com

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    1. I would never have thought of that Brenda, thank you for that tip.

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    2. Wow Brenda, I bought two for a couple of quid from the QVC outlet store, but it's a really good idea to do one in a fabric of your choice. Don't need it at the moment do we?

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  3. What a brilliant post! My water bills are really low now I have a meter - no more than about £5 a week but perhaps I can cut them a little bit more x

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  4. Hello Ilona
    Ian looks a friendly chap.A good informative post.
    I think it is sad how we have to watch the pennies all the time. Live in a colder house than we would like , watch what water we use and get by how we can.
    There are many people around doing the same.
    From House Fairy

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  5. Oh yes, there's a lot worse things than an "Eco warrior" :-D

    I liked Ian, he has a rather Santa look, with his jolly face and his red top!

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  6. I worked for many years in Watershed Management in the US, and I agree that many people do not give a lot of thought to the value of water; where it comes from, where it goes. And people are very often unaware of the relationship between the landscape vegetation and water...a healthy forest is actively filtering and cleaning water every day!

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  7. I must admit that I am a bit lax with water use as we have 3 x 22000 rain water tanks, but now that we are coming into the dry summer period I think we will certainly have to be a bit more careful. Great service provided by the water company.
    Judy xx

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  8. Nice to see the people who make money from water trying to help save it!!
    Jane x

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  9. I pretty much do what you do but am very interested in the garden savings. I mulch my plants well here in the mid-west and use native drought resistant plants but the gel sounded really good and also the mat that holds water.
    Nice to get someone round who is interested in helping you conserve rescources.

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  10. My husband keeps forgetting not to flush. I have put a sticker on the loo 50p a flush! I might be quids in,

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    1. I wonder if some people think it's 'dirty' not to flush. In a toilet used by many it wouldn't be very pleasant to find someone else's pee in the bowl, but in your own home with one, two, or even three people living there, I can't see how that is a problem.

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    2. My husband won't not flush, bad grammar I know. If I leave loo unflushed (wee only) he goes mad. It really annoys me, as there are only the two of us.

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  11. Love this post! My husband would never go for most of your water saving techniques. Small steps for us... I admire your tenacity!

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  12. Ilona,
    I do not like a shower, either.

    In the US, we don't have quarterly charges, just monthly. Well, let's say I have never heard of that scheme.

    How many gallons do you use each month?

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    1. I don't know PP, I never read my own meter. I'll check a previous bill when I get up, in bed at the moment. I think it will be in litres. We pay twice a year for water.

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  13. in Australia we have a saying regarding saving toilet water "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down."

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  14. Brilliant post! And I love the sheepish pictures LOL I remember the droughts we used to have back home and all the things we did to save water. Much less posh though, a brick in the cistern to reduce the flush, only flushing after a number 2, sharing a bath and using the water for the veggies, using a bottle of water to brush your teeth. I remember being little and doing a rain dance in the garden because it hadn't rained in months. Can't imagine doing that here ;-)

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  15. I wish they`d send me someone like Ian. Sofar Southern Water have installed a meter but no other service was forthcoming. I don`t think they provide that service here in the South. I wish they did. All they gave me was a few leaflets on how I should save water. I don`t think that Southern Water will supply any such free water saving gadgets like Anglian does. It`s a shame. This should be made law and applied by all water suppliers, I think.

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    1. I agree! I went to their website hoping for a similar service and all I found out was that I'm getting a meter in the next couple of years! Lots of videos but nothing like Anglian offer! :-(
      However a great post and made me start looking at our water consumption and what we will need to do! :-)

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    2. Hi M & M. Have you applied for a meter to be fitted now, rather that wait for two years? Is there a reason why they cannot fit one now?

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  16. If you do use that gel stuff in your plants use just a tiny bit per pot. I added the amount on the package for the amount of soil I was using and for the entire summer everytime it rained the gel swelled up and all my petunias got dumped out of the planter. It got to be a bit of a joke with my mom. I eventually just took all the gobs out each time they were soaked and let them dry out again.
    Also, if you decide to make the neck coolers be sure you pick a material that can handle a dosing in either white vinegar or bleach every now and again to keep them bacteria free. Again, I learned the hard way one summer when I started to get a terrible rash on my neck and finally tracked it to the bacteria in my neck cooler. I short dunk in diluted bleach water and a good rinse and it was fine.

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  17. They hiked the prices up for water here for low users... we now have to pay a fixed minimum charge each month + what ever you use on top. My fixed price is about 80% of the cost. Not good!

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  18. When they say it uses less water to take a shower than a bath, it all depends on the user. In our house my daughter is in the shower for well over 20 minutes and she doesn't switch it off while she lathers up, the water is on continuously. My husband on the other hand gets bathed in a couple of inches of water!

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  19. Anglian water customer services refused to believe that i use as little water as the meter shows ( about £120 a year ). The guy insisted that the meter is wrong and needs replacing.
    i explained that i am merely following Anglian Waters's exhortations to save our precious water. Now i am inconvenienced by my success.

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