Do you waste water?

Water has played an important part in our life since the beginning of our species. Have you ever thought about your water usage and compared to that of people living in different countries? Are your habits sustainable? Let’s find out, as always, together.

CCWATER claims that households composed of 1 person in UK consume 149l of water per day, which correspond to 54 m³ per year.

Understanding our role in the water cycle can help us visualize which part we play in this circle. Basically, we are a tiny drop in the ocean. We interfere at the moment between the evaporation of the water from the Earth’s surface and rain: that’s the time when we collect our water for infinite reasons. Of course, we found out different ways to access water sources hidden beneath the Earth’s surface, because we are smart: this is water that is stored, for example, underneath permeable rocks, that once permeates the surface of these rocks is unable to evaporate again because it is not heated by sunlight, and so it stays there.

There are multiple theories about whether we will ever run out of water or not: I won’t talk about that in this posts, but in my opinion, the answer is no, or better, it is very unlikely, even in the most water-exploited scenario.

Coming back to us, I decided to calculate how much water I consume per day, over a typical working week.

The first thing to determine is how much water is running in your pipes. In my case, I have 3 water sources in my house: a shower, a bathroom sink, and a kitchen sink. Other sources are the toilet and the washing machine. For these two, I just considered manufacturers data (when available) and the average UK consume (per flush and per wash).

Shower and sinks were a funny exercise. I used a graded beaker of 1 litre and my phone as a timer. I calculated the time needed for each tap to fill the litre and then how long it normally takes me to use them. The results were then calculated via a simple equation.

Looking at numbers it’s easier to explain them, so here they are.

  • Kitchen sink filled 1l in 7.86 s
  • Bathroom sink filled 1l in 12.89 s
  • Shower filled 1l in 20.34s

With these starting data, it is possible to deduce the amount of water in litres used for specific tasks by a simple equation.

A : B = X : C , where A is 1l, B is the time needed to fill up the 1l beaker and C is the actual time needed to complete specific tasks.

In the case of a shower, it takes me on average 5 minutes to wash myself, and so:

1l : 20.34s = X : 300s, →X = (1l x 300s) ÷ 20.34s =  14.74l of water used per each shower.

I went on repeating the same exercise for each task and then I recorded how many times I performed each one of them during a week. The results are the following.

ActivityDay 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Tot n of timesl/usageTotal
Drinking78898400.312
Washing hand/face91011119509.3465
Shower11111514.773.5
Brushing teeth22222104.646
Toilet78997405200
Food prep11111523115
Cooking 2222210550
Dish washing11111561305
Clothes washing116565
Other1111151010
My water usage calculated over a typical working week

Unbelievable!

It turned out I use almost twice as much water as an average UK household! (268l vs 149l, shame on me).

What could be the reasons?

I wouldn’t say irresponsible management, I try to be careful, but it is clear that something has to change. However, the efficiency of my appliances plays an important part. My washing machine (an old model) consume around 65l per washing, at 30°. I know recent models on the market get the job done with as little as 15l.

Another good way of saving water would be the replacement (or fix) of my kitchen sink: I noticed the pressure is way too low, with more pressure I could easily wash my dishes in less than half the time and probably reduce the amount of water used.

What about a dishwasher? Good topic, twice a week at full load would most certainly reduce the water usage if efficient (don’t forget to load it at night when there’s less demand for electricity in your local grid, otherwise you would save water by producing more CO2e).

We could be talking about water usage for days, but let’s leave it for now. I hope everyone would take into consideration their water usage and come up with brilliant ideas to try to improve it. Where should I be cutting my water usage? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to stay Green!

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