In light of the severe water shortages experienced by parts of the country, we offers some advice on easy ways to reduce water consumption in the bathroom.
When you make the realisation that around half of any household’s water consumption occurs in the bathroom, it is easy to understand that making a few water-friendly changes in this room will make a big dent in your overall water usage. So says Raymond Oliver of leading sanitaryware and tile manufacturer, Roca: “Just upgrading to a more water-efficient toilet can save an average South African family up to 41 500 litres of water per year!”
However, he says that going green in the bathroom is not nearly as costly as many people think: “Up-fitting your faucets, fixtures and toilets to more efficient and eco-friendly options can be one of the most frugal updates you can make to your home, but one with serious financial up sides – with regards to savings on utility bills, as well as increasing the resale of your home.” He offers an overview of some of the most cost-effective remedies to the biggest water guzzlers in the bathroom:
Faucets and fixtures
One of the easiest things to do to make your bathroom a greener space is to replace your faucets and fixtures with low-flow options. Aerators are a must-have for any low-flow faucet – it is a screw-on tip of a faucet, and it determines the maximum flow rate. For bathrooms, aerators can restrict the flow from around 57 litres per minute (lpm), to 19 lpm. Says Raymond: “To reduce your water usage without changing the tap, you can easily add a Roca flow limiter to any of our basin taps, showerheads or shower hoses. Flow controls reduce the maximum flow delivered by the tap to a specified economical flow rate.”
He notes that if you don’t have Roca faucets, you should unscrew the aerator from your existing tap and take it in-store with you so that you can ensure you purchase one that fits your existing faucets properly. Alternatively, you can of course, replace the entire faucet with a new one that has an eco low-flow aerator built-in.
Another water-friendly feature to look for when selecting your faucets, are eco disc cartridges, explains Raymond: “The eco disc cartridge from Roca for example, gives you the choice between two water flows. As you raise the lever handle, you reach a level of resistance, giving you 50% of the flow. By lifting beyond this point, you achieve full water flow. The cartridge also has a temperature limiter, set when installing the tap, which eliminates the risk of scalding.”
With regards to showerheads, Raymond says that low-flow options can cut water usage by as much as 25% to 65%, depending on the unit you select, and that they are exceptionally easy to install. For maximum efficiency, Raymond advises that you select one with a flow rate of less than 5 lpm. There are two types of showerheads you can choose from – aerator or laminar-flow showerheads. An aerating showerhead incorporates air into the water to form a misty-type spray. Or you can choose a laminar-flow showerhead, which produces streams of water – these are better for those living in more humid climates as they cut down the amount of steam and moisture produced while showering.
It is estimated that around a quarter of the water we use in the home is used to flush the toilet. How much water you use per flush largely depends on the size of the toilet’s cistern. Raymond advises that if you are really looking to reduce your water consumption, investing in a dual-flush toilet is a must: “All Roca cisterns are dual flush, allowing you to choose the amount of water that is required. It offers 6-litre/3-litre; 5-litre/3-litre; and 4,5-litre/3-litre options. All its cisterns also feature delayed fill valves as standard, so fresh water does not start to enter the cistern until the flush valve closes after the cistern has completely emptied.”
If you do not have the budget to replace your old water-guzzling toilet with a new dual-flush model, then Raymond says that you can displace space in your existing toilet’s cistern, so that it uses less water to fill up: “When you have less water in your tank, you have less to drain and refill every time you flush. You can reduce the capacity of your cistern by simply placing a solid item in it. When selecting the item, be sure to choose one that won’t float, break (such as glass), degrade or corrode – for example a brick or a plastic bottle filled with water or sand for example.”
Other ways to cut down on wasted water in your toilet include only flushing when necessary, and never flushing things down the toilet to dispose of them, such as cigarette “stompies”, wet wipes, paper towels, serviettes, cat litter and pencil sharpening for example. Not only can these items block your pipes, but they will also require a lot of water to flush them away.
Collect, conserve and catch-all
And lastly, Raymond says that the final area where you can conserve a lot of water in the bathroom is by controlling or collecting water that would otherwise run down the drain: “Turning off the water when you are brushing your teeth or shaving is a great way to save water. As is turning the shower off while you are soaping up, shaving or washing your hair in the shower. You can also place a bucket under any faucet or showerhead, to collect water that runs while it heats up – you can use this to fill the toilet cistern, for drinking or cooking. You can also catch your soapy grey water, and use this for watering plants or for cleaning purposes.”
Also, he advises that you should save baths for very special occasions, rather opting to shower: “The average bath uses around 130 to 190 litres to fill, whereas a 10-minute shower with a Roca low-flow showerhead will use as little as 50 litres.” However, he notes that if you really love bathing and just can’t go without a relaxing soak every now and again, then you should install a reduced capacity bath: “Roca for example, offers a range of reduced capacity baths, which boast a much lower capacity when compared to standard baths, due to their reduced height, lowered overflow and internal shaping. They allow you the luxury of a bath, without the guilt of wasting so much water.”
And lastly, but most importantly, Raymond says that every responsible citizen should fix any leaky taps or toilets in their homes: “A single leaky toilet can waste as much as 400 litres of water per day – the equivalent of four full baths. While one leaking tap can waste as much as 120 litres of water per day, which is equivalent to one full bath.” Regarding toilets, Raymond says that if you can hear water flowing when the toilet has not been flushed, or if you can see a constant trickle at the back of the toilet pan, then you most probably have a leaky toilet that needs to be repaired.Tags: Bathrooms, How-To