This article titled “Daily showers account for biggest water use in UK homes, figures show” was written by Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 4th July 2013 05.00 UTC
It has become part of our daily routine, although few of us are likely aware of the full financial or environmental costs. Yet showering now accounts for the biggest single use of water in the home – one quarter of the massive 9bn litres of water used by UK households every day – with much of our money spiralling down the plughole.
Britons are also inflating their energy bills by over-filling kettles and hand-washing crockery rather than using more energy-efficient dishwashers.
The findings have emerged from the biggest ever study of how Britons use water, published on Thursday, using data supplied by 86,000 British households and commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust .
Showers are by far the biggest consumers of water in the home, consuming 25%, with toilets second at 22%. An average shower lasts seven-and-a-half minutes, yet cutting just a minute off that time would save British households £215 million on energy bills each year, the report said.
On average, Britons shower 4.4 times a week, and take 1.3 baths. People living in larger households with more people take fewer showers each week, but stay in them longer. While a quarter of respondents have efficient eco-showerheads installed, a similar proportion have high-flow – and wasteful – power showers.
The study revealed that 22% of household water is used in the kitchen, with washing machines, dishwashers, kettles and taps all taking their share. More than nine in ten people (95%) boil the kettle every day, with 40% doing so five times a day or more. However, three-quarters of households still boil more water than they need – with overfilling costing £68 million a year, in aggregate.
The average British household washes dishes by hand ten times a week, and only uses the dishwasher three times a week. But larger households could actually make greater energy and water savings by using an efficient, modern dishwasher rather than washing by hand, says the Trust. Households use their washing machine on average 4.5 times each week, yet only a quarter choose to wash at 30C or less.
Andrew Tucker, water strategy manager at Energy Saving Trust, said: “When people think of energy use they think of heating and lighting, running electrical appliances or filling the car with petrol. It’s all too easy to turn on the tap and not think about the consequences. But there is an environmental and energy cost attached to water which many people do not consider. On average, hot water use contributes £228 to the average annual combined energy bill. It’s clear that we are all using more water-consuming appliances regularly, especially showers, but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless to control our water use.”
The research was carried out in partnership with Defra, Procter and Gamble, Thames Water, Consumer Council for Water and SaveWaterSaveMoney.
Water- and energy-saving tips from the EST
• Installing an eco-shower head to a mixer or power shower – 49% of households could do this
• Washing clothes at 30C or below – saving 40% of energy on a wash at 50-60C
• Boiling only the water you need when you fill the kettle – overfilling costs Britons £68m a year
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