How to save water using your appliances
We’re not quite at the Mad Max stage of water conservation, but it’s important to know how to use your appliances to help save water.
- Use the dishwasher if you have one. Don’t handwash, as it uses more water (yes, really!).
- Scrape food off. Don’t pre-rinse, as your dishwasher has its own rinse cycle – pre-rinsing just wastes water.
- Use the auto-sensing mode. The dishwasher senses how dirty the dishes are and adjusts the amount of water used.
- Wash full loads, it’s more efficient for water and energy use.
- Use a fast wash for lightly soiled items.
- Pre-treat heavily soiled items.
- Make sure the water level matches your load size if you’re using a top loader.
- If you buy a new machine, get a front loader. They use less water than top loaders.
Kettle or jug
- Only boil as much water as you need. If you feel the need to tip out the old water, use it for your plants or to fill the pets’ bowls – don’t pour it down the sink.
- When making tea or coffee, fill your cup first, then add that water to the kettle. Cup measurements on kettles can vary a lot – measuring first saves water.
If your home is damp and you use a dehumidifier year-round, or even just to remove the excess moisture in a bathroom, like me, there’s a good use for all that captured water – your plants! Using dehumidifier greywater to hydrate your decorative plants (not vegetables) is a great use of it, but only if your dehumidifier is a compressor model. Desiccant models can leave residue in the water that could be harmful to plants.
Check the water star rating when buying a new appliance
When you’re in the market for a new appliance, remember to consider its water consumption. Dishwashers and washing machines both have water star ratings. Like energy stars, these ratings give you an idea of how much water a specific model typically consumes.
The more stars the better!
If you’re keen to take water conservation to the next level, consider recycling the wastewater from your bathroom and laundry – known as greywater. Once greywater has been treated, it can be used to irrigate gardens. It must be treated first, though, to remove any residue such as detergent.
Installing a greywater system will conserve fresh water, but it’s expensive and not an easy retrofit (you’ll need consent, a plumber and several thousand dollars). The systems use electric pumps to divert water to treatment tanks, so you’ll need to factor in the power costs, too.
You’re unlikely to recoup your investment, but greywater systems are great for the environment and can save a lot of water overall.
Even after treatment, greywater must never be used for cooking, bathing, brushing teeth, swimming or drinking.