With water supplies under pressure from climate change and an increasing need for new housing, it’s more important than ever for new homes to be as water efficient and free from leaks as possible.
We’re working in partnership with the Home Builders Federation to offer advice on water fittings and fixtures, pipe-laying and plumbing which can help protect stressed water resources.
By following our recommendations, developers can benefit from cost savings, enhanced reputation and be secure in the knowledge they are helping to save water, protect the environment and reduce carbon emissions.
Recommendations include equipping new homes with water-efficient showerheads, dishwashers and washing machines, aerated taps, dual-flush toilets, and, for the garden, water butts and drought-resistant plants.
The installation in new-builds of greywater or rainwater harvesting systems can generate enough water to flush the toilet, wash the car or water the garden and are much more efficient and cost effective when installed during construction.
All new homes must be fitted with a water meter, which means that water bills for new homeowners will be based on the amount of water they use, so saving water means saving money on bills too.
Preventing and tackling leaks is an important issue. By building watertight homes you can help keep your customers’ water bills down, tackle the effects of climate change and support a healthy, flourishing environment.
About a quarter of leaks are found on the underground supply pipes, which connect properties to water mains - so developers have a key role to play in building robust water networks to tackle these leaks.
There are simple steps which you can take to reduce the risk of leaks on supply pipes - for example, using a continuous, uninterrupted length of pipe that runs in a straight line and making sure the water pipe is installed at the correct depth to prevent pipework freezing.
Detailed advice and guidance is available online via water.org.uk/self-lay-code-of-practice and water.org.uk/guidance/meter-location-best-practice-guidelines.
Leaks can often crop up inside homes too, especially if fixtures and fittings aren’t installed properly or are of poor quality.
By using approved contractors and approved fittings in new-builds you can be more confident about protecting your customers from:
Insulating pipes and fittings in unheated places such as under floors, lofts and garages, as well as outside taps, will also help prevent bursts and leaks during cold weather.
Further advice can be found in our ‘Developing homes to prevent leaks in pipes and plumbing’ leaflet for developers. Click here to download it.
We have also produced a leakage leaflet for you to share with new homeowners which sets out advice on the tell-tale signs to look out for and how to trace and fix leaks. Click here to download it.
Even in a new, water-efficient home, there are lots of simple ways in which homeowners can save even more water, energy and money, all while helping to protect the environment.
If households need a plumber to help with the water fittings, it’s important they are properly trained to keep the drinking water healthy and help prevent water waste.
WaterSafe is the free national register of approved plumbers in the UK and it’s supported by all the water companies and the water quality regulators.
More advice and easy to follow tips are included in our ‘Your new water efficient home’ leaflet for customers, which you can download by clicking here.
New homeowners can also play their part in saving water by keeping an eye out for future leaks in and around their home.
Leaks can pop up inside homes and cause damage to floors and ceilings if left unchecked. Encourage new homeowners to watch out for the following tell-tale problems:
Toilets are one of the most common causes of leaks in homes - a toilet leaking clean water from the cistern to the pan can waste up to 400 litres of water a day and add around £300 a year to a water bill if left unfixed.
There’s lots more information and practical advice in our ‘Preventing plumbing leaks in your new home’ leaflet for customers, which you can download by clicking here.
Measures such as these will help bring down the average UK water use of about 140 litres per person per day towards 118 litres, a figure recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission in its 2018 report ‘Preparing for a drier future’.
Some water companies are setting targets as low as 100 in their long-term plans.
As well as benefiting the environment, building water-efficient homes can mean cost savings for developers too. Some water companies are offering to reduce or waive water infrastructure charges or offer discounts if developers build efficient homes and employ WaterSafe approved plumbers.
Contact your local water supplier to find out more.
You can also contact:
The Water Label: The European Water Label rates bathroom products in terms of their water efficiency. Visit europeanwaterlabel.eu and look for A-rated products.
The Water Calculator: This free calculator helps work out how much water your development will use and how you can reduce it to meet guidelines – you can access it at thewatercalculator.org.uk.
Waterwise: Waterwise is an independent, not-for-profit organisation focused on reducing water consumption in the UK. Visit waterwise.org.uk for advice and support.