Saving water in the home

Water is a precious resource which needs to be used carefully. Water taken from rivers and lakes for human use has an impact on wildlife. By saving water in your home, you can help the environment too.

Flush less water down the toilet

Toilet flushing accounts for about a third of household water usage. You probably flush away as much water in a day as you drink in a whole month. There are easy ways to reduce this by:

  • installing a water displacement device (or 'Save-a-Flush') in the cistern of a higher flush toilet – these reduce the amount of water used for each flush, typically by one or two litres
  • choosing a water-saving, low-flush or dual-flush version when buying a new toilet - low flush toilets use six litres of water per flush compared to nine or more litres for other toilets
  • fitting a variable flushing device to existing higher flush toilets - this will give you a choice of flush volumes to help save water
  • throwing cotton wool, sanitary products and other waste in the bin, not the toilet
  • How to save water - NIWater website

Switch to showers

A quick shower uses much less water than a bath - five minutes in a standard shower uses 35 litres while a bath uses 80 litres. Also, fitting a flow regulator or water-efficient shower head reduces the amount of water you use by 30 per cent without compromising shower performance. These should not, however, be fitted to electric showers as this can lead to overheating of the water. Also, avoid high volume power showers as you can easily use more water than if you had a bath - roughly 90 litres.

Washing machines and dishwashers

Washing machines use roughly 60 litres per cycle. You can save on the water you use by putting on a full load of washing or using the machine's half-load / economy setting.

Dishwasters use roughly 40 litres per cycle. Don't rinse plates before putting them in the dishwasher - the dishwasher will clean them anyway so doing so only wastes water.

Use water-efficient appliances

All new dishwashers and washing machines have a European (EU) energy label which tells you the amount of water used per wash and how energy efficient they are.

Fix dripping taps and leaks

A dripping tap, losing just two drips a second, wastes up to 26 litres of water a day. Simple plumbing jobs can save a lot of water without being expensive. You can:

  • fix dripping taps or overflows; a new washer costs just a few pence and can be fitted in minutes
  • install a leak detector to warn you about leaks in your house
  • put lagging on your outside pipes to help avoid burst pipes and leaks in winter

Turn off the taps

Leaving a tap running while cleaning your teeth, shaving or washing fruit and vegetables can waste about six litres of water a minute. To cut down on wastage you can:

  • collect the cold water that comes through before a tap runs hot and use it for watering plants
  • keep a jug of water in the fridge instead of waiting for the tap to run cold
  • wash fruit and vegetables in a washing up bowl full of water instead of running a tap
  • only fill a kettle to the amount needed
  • defrost food in the fridge or microwave, not under a running tap

Another way to reduce water use is to fit an aerator or spray ends to washbasin taps. An aerator mixes air with water and can reduce water use by up to 50 per cent.

Make use of greywater and rainwater

Any water that has been used in the home, except water from toilets, is called greywater. Shower, bath and washbasin water can be re-used in the garden. More information and guidelines for doing this are on the following page:

You can also collect rainwater to use in your house for flushing toilets, washing cars, watering plants or even for the washing machine. For this you will need a large rainwater harvesting system which must be linked to your domestic plumbing.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.