Saving water in summer
Living in the Waikato, it can sometimes feel like 'it's raining all the time, so why worry about water?’
The reason is because it doesn’t always rain in the right places at the right time! We are facing drought conditions more frequently, as the effects of climate change kick in.
There are other times when water supply is interrupted for one reason or another, so storing 9 litres of water per person is recommended for all households in order to get through three days without water.
We know that small differences in our lives can make big differences for our environment. There are loads of things you can do around the home to help save water this summer. Here’s 10 cheap (or free) things to get started:
- Limit garden watering by using surface mulch as much as possible. Water only every few days in summer (and keeping a weather eye out for Council’s water restrictions). Water only in the early morning or late evening. Use watering cans, drip or seep irrigation in preference to sprinklers. If you have a watering system, fit a timer to it.
- Use a broom to clean driveways and porches, rather than a garden hose (or a leaf blower – muscle power is much more efficient!)
- If your toilet has no 'half flush' button, put an old milk bottle filled with water into the cistern (or buy a zinc weight called a ‘gizmo’ from plumbing suppliers, which converts an automatic flush to a manual one).
- Install a rain barrel to capture water from the roof for garden watering, or consider installing a larger tank to plumb rainwater to the toilet.
- Fix leaks and replace washers where necessary. Check your toilet cistern, by placing a few drops of food dye into the cistern and seeing if it makes its way into the bowl without flushing.
- Turn the tap off while brushing teeth or shaving, and put the plug in the sink when washing vegetables. Better still, put a bowl in the sink and water the pot plants when you’re finished.
- Shorten your showers and have fewer showers (have a wash instead sometimes). But switch to showers if you usually have baths, or alternatively, bath with a friend!
- Install a low flow showerhead or (cheaper still) an aerator washer (available from hardware shops) to save 4-5 litres a minute on your shower use.
- Use water-saving appliances and wash only full loads of laundry or dishes. Front loading washing machines use only about a third of the water of top loaders.
- Insulate hot water pipes (maybe while adding an insulation “jacket” to your cylinder). This reduces the time it takes for the hot water to reach your shower, saving water and energy.
These tips are drawn from the Sustainable Living Programme. Residents of Matamata-Piako District can download free study guides by registering at www.sustainableliving.org.nz.