With three quarters of people in Scotland not aware of the amount of gas, electricity or oil used to heat water in homes, Luke Johnson from Scottish Water’s Water Demand team shares his advice on making the most of this precious resource and saving money:
Scotland is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, in which water plays such a vital part. Deep, pristine lochs, rushing rivers, and crashing seas... Scotland's water provides more than just a scenic backdrop; water is a precious natural resource, vital to everything and everyone, worth protecting.
Under the surface of water and its support for life, there is a deeper story to be told as we all grapple with climate change and sustainable living.
The intrinsic link between water efficiency and energy conservation is a crucial part of a greener future. By adopting water-efficient practices, we not only conserve this vital resource but also curtail our energy consumption, leading to reduced bills and a smaller environmental footprint.
But why save water in Scotland of all places?
With Scotland’s climate, you might think there is plenty of water to go around, however, Scotland can suffer from water shortages. Although rainwater can replenish rivers, lochs and reservoirs quickly, when there is a dry spell water levels can also drop rapidly.
The truth is that less than 1% of rainfall ends up somewhere Scottish Water has access to and Scotland can suffer from water shortages during prolonged dry spells. In the summer of 2018 parts of Scotland saw almost no rainfall for weeks. This, coupled with an increase in water demand of up to 30%, put significant strain on our water resources. With climate change, summers like 2018 are set to become more common. Therefore, Scottish Water is encouraging customers to save water - all year round. This will help to protect future supplies and keep more water in the natural environment and reduce our collective carbon footprint.
Despite domestic water use not being metered in Scotland and instead being applied at a fixed rate in council tax, significant savings can still be made by reducing our water use. Current energy prices remain high and roughly 20% of household energy consumption is used to heat water. So, making the smallest changes in habits can have significant impact on both our energy consumption and the associated cost. For example, something as simple as taking 2 minutes off your shower would save you on average £130 a year!
Conserving water means conserving energy, which, in turn, reduces reliance on fossil fuel-based power generation and curtails carbon dioxide emissions.
Collecting and delivering drinking water to your home and treating household wastewater create emissions. By avoiding over-extraction from rivers, lakes, and underground sources, we maintain the delicate balance necessary for sustaining wildlife, flora, and fauna.
In short - save water, save the planet.
So how can I save water AND Energy?
There are a variety of small changes we can all make in our homes that can all add up to some major savings:
TAKE SHORTER SHOWERS. By taking just 2 minutes off your shower you can not only save the £130 off your energy bill mentioned earlier, but you’ll also save 5,000 litres of water a year!
ONLY USE A FULL LOAD. By putting a full load in your washing machine and washing at 30 degrees rather than 40, can save on water and on energy consumption by 57%. It all adds up. Better still, check out your washing machine’s instruction manual – different settings could save gallons of water and money off your energy bill.
ONLY BOIL WHAT YOU NEED. How many times do you boil the kettle and walk away, get distracted and have to boil it again 15 minutes later? What a waste of energy! Only boil what you need for your cuppa. You will save water, energy and time!
USE ECO SETTINGS. A standard dishwasher uses around 9.5 litres of water per wash which is water efficient but wait for a full load and use the eco setting to save energy and water.
ONE FLUSH MAKES A DIFFERENCE. A family of four could flush the loo over 10,000 times each year. That’s about 60,000 litres of clear, fresh water down the drain. Enough to fill 830 baths! Maybe you needn’t flush every time?
FIX LEAKY LOOS. A leaking toilet can waste between 215 and 400 litres of water every day. About 4% of British loos are leaking, and it is most common with dual flush toilets.
TURN THE TAP OFF WHEN BRUSHING. Cleaning our teeth with the tap running wastes 5 litres of water a minute – an instant saving by simply turning off the tap while brushing.
FIX DRIPPING TAPS. Found a dripping tap? A dripping tap can waste over 5,500 litres of water a year so make sure taps are turned off properly or replace the washer.
INSTALL A WATER BUTT. Could you fit a water butt in your garden? A small Scottish roof collects over 45,000 litres of water each year and a large roof can collect over 90,000 litres per year. Plenty to help your garden grow when the weather is dry.
USE A WATERING CAN. Watering the garden? A hose wastes 1,000 litres of water an hour. Save water and nourish your plants’ roots use a watering can instead. Better still – use the water from your water butt. Plants prefer rainwater so it’s a win-win!
If you need help with fixing those leaky loos and dripping taps, make sure to call a WaterSafe approved plumber, who is trained in the water byelaws, which includes the need to not waste water, as well as keeping it wholesome.
By adopting these water-saving practices, you can not only contribute to conserving Scotland's valuable water resources but also enjoy reduced energy bills. Saving water means saving the energy needed for water treatment, heating, and distribution, ultimately leading to financial savings and a greener future.
Remember, by conserving water, we save energy, protect the environment, and create a better world for ourselves and future generations.