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Kitchen and bathroom money-saving tips

Many of these kitchen and bathroom tips are free to implement and they'll save you money.

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  • Don’t leave taps running: A running tap sends up to 14L of water a minute down the gurgler. If you’re washing fruit and veges, part-fill the sink instead of leaving the water running. And for shaving and brushing your teeth, part-fill the basin or use a mug of water.

  • Consider fitting flow restrictors: On your basin taps and other fixtures. Basins need only 4-6L/min to be effective. Flow restrictors are fitted between the fixed plumbing on the wall and the tap. For most basins the fitting of flow restrictors is a simple DIY job. However, some basin and cabinet designs may need a plumber to install the flow restrictor.

Another way of restricting water flow is through tap mixers if you have them. You can restrict the extent to which a mixer can be opened. This may cause temperature problems if you have uneven pressure so check with your plumber.

  • Have showers instead of baths: An average bath uses 200 litres of water, an average short shower 120 litres (10 minutes on a 12L per minute system). But bear in mind that a long shower may use more water than a bath.

  • Reduce your water pressure: High pressure water systems increase the amount of water you use. Consider having a pressure-limiting valve installed by a plumber, at your property boundary. Check with your local council as they may do this for you at no charge.

  • Wash your clothes in cold water: Most normally-soiled clothes are fine in a cold wash with cold-wash detergent. To make sure the machine gets flushed through, make one in 5 washes warm or one in 10 hot.

  • Choose a front-loading washing machine: Front loaders use less water than top loaders, which makes them more energy-efficient. Each time you use your top loader machine you could be using anywhere from 80-200 litres of water per load, or around 140 litres on average. A front loader uses 65 litres per load on average.

  • Use the economy rinse cycle on your washing machine: This saves water. However, if you suffer allergies, clothing needs to be well rinsed.

  • Consider recycling the greywater: You can use the water from your washing machine’s rinse to water the garden. This may well require plumbing work and consent from your local council.

  • Dry clothes outside if you can: Dryers are hard on clothes and cost about 75c for a 5kg load. Drying inside increases the moisture levels inside your house, which makes it harder to heat. If you need to use your dryer and you have low tariff night electricity, you will save money by running it at night.

  • When washing dishes by hand: Use the minimum amount of detergent required. This will reduce the amount of rinsing required, which will save water.

  • Insulate your hot water system: Many homes have low pressure hot water systems with open-vents: the vent pipe from the top of the cylinder pokes through the roof by one or two metres. If you have one of these and live in a very frosty area, this pipe must be insulated inside and outside the roof. Some homes also have exposed cold-water pipes in the ceiling space or outside the house. These may also need insulation.

Insulate pipes inside with split tubular foam insulation or lagging tape, available from plumbing suppliers. If your hot water cylinder is an ‘A’ grade (look for this on the label) it is already well insulated. If not, you could save on your power bill by installing a cylinder wrap.

  • Reduce the need for your waste disposal unit: Use a compost pile or worm farm for food scraps. Waste-disposal units use about 30 litres of water per day and send a lot of extra rubbish into the sewers. This places an additional load on sewerage treatment plants. However, if you are unable to compost, sending food scraps to the landfill in your general rubbish is less environmentally friendly than sending them to the sewerage plant. Wait until you have finished your meal to send all the food scraps down the waste disposal unit at once.

  • Keep cold water in the fridge: Running the cold water tap until the water is cold enough to drink wastes water.

  • Don’t leave your heated towel rail on all the time: Install a timer switch on the towel rail or make sure you switch it off once it has done its job.

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