Six simple gadgets to save water this summer – This is Money

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By Sam Barker For This Is Money
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Households could save hundreds of pounds a year with water-saving tips and gadgets – just as many regions prepare for a hosepipe ban. 
Even better is many devices that help save water and money are handed out for free by water firms, though this does depend on where you live.
The average annual water bill went up by 7.5 per cent this year, from £417 to £448.
While this bill is some way off the £2,000 average household energy bill, or the increasing tariffs for groceries and mortgage payments, it is still worth keeping under control if possible.
Troubled waters: A hosepipe ban is here for parts of Kent, Sussex, Devon and Cornwall
Aside from the money-saving argument for saving water, there is an obvious environmental reason to preserve this resource – even though water companies lose millions of litres-a-day through leaks.
Already this year hosepipe bans have been brought in by South East Water and South West Water.
But households can save money on water with gadgets and common-sense approach to how they use this vital resource.
Saving water only means lower bills for households with a water meter fitted, though saving water can mean saving money on energy bills too – if you use less shower water, for example.
There are two ways gadgets can help you save water – through using less of it and by recycling water that would otherwise go down the drain.
1. Water-saving shower head
These devices work like a standard shower head, but cut down the amount of water being used.
For example, a Flowpoint water-saving shower head uses around 7 litres of water a minute, compared to the typical 15 used by a standard shower head.
These shower heads normally cost £10 to £20 and can be easily installed without a professional.
Against the flow: These shower heads cut down on the amount of water going down the drain
However, these water-saving devices – as well as many others – are given out free by some water providers.
For example, homes in the Maidstone area of Kent qualify for free water-saving shower heads, as well as many other freebies.
But it all depends on where you live. Thames Water customers in London do not qualify for any such free items.
To find out what you can get, put your postcode into the Save Water Save Money website.
2. Water butt
Water butts are designed to collect rainwater, which can then be used for tasks such as watering the garden.
Water feature: Many gardeners install water butts to their sheds for convenience
These cost from £25 to £40 for a basic 100 litre water butt to £40 to £100 for a 200 litre one, though fancier versions are available too.
The idea is these connect to downpipes leading from house gutters then collect and store rainwater that would otherwise go down the drain.
Many gardeners fit guttering to their sheds and then collect water that would otherwise have drained away into the soil. 
Even a relatively small shed can fill a 100 litre water butt by the end of a rainy week.
3. Water Two
This £35 gadget is designed to collect ‘grey’ water – the water used when we run a sink, take a bath or shower or use a dishwasher.
The average home uses 5 to 13 litres of water per minute of running a shower, and up to 80 when taking a bath.
The Water Two gadget can be fitted to your external waste pipe, which takes water from your bath or shower to the drain.
It then diverts this water into either a water butt or irrigation system for gardens.
However, users have to divert this grey water back down the drain when using cleaning products like bleach, which will kill plants.
Water gathered in this way also cannot be stored for more than 48 hours, as  bacteria will build up.
In hot water: The Water Two device diverts bath and shower water for use in the garden
The Royal Horticultural Society also warns not to overdo using grey water in gardens, and to never use it on anything you plan to eat. 
But before there was the Water Two, there was the humble bucket.
Eco-friendly gardeners have long been putting a bucket on the floor of their shower to catch water that would otherwise run down the drain.
Cheap, effective and reusable – with the only drawback being the possible trip hazard.
4. Cistern bag
These simple inventions help you use less water when you flush the toilet.
Normally 6 to 8 litres of water are used whenever you flush. But this can be reduced by 1 to 2 litres per flush with a cistern bag.
These are sturdy plastic bags that are put inside your toilet cistern and filled with water.
That effectively reduces the size of your cistern, and the amount of water needed to refill it.
So when you next flush the toilet, refilling the cistern will need four to seven litres of water, not six to eight.
Best of all is these cistern bags cost just £1 to £5 and last for the forseeable future.
5. Tap aerator
These clever gadgets cut water use by limiting the flow and mixing tiny soft bubbles into water coming out of a tap.
Tap aerators fix onto the faucet of a tap, and the idea is that customers then use less water when doing washing up or washing their hands.
The devices cost around £10. Examples, such as the Kitchen Stream, cut the flow of water to 6.8 litres a minute, down from norms of around 8 litres.
Similar devices have been invented to cut the amount of water used by showers too.
These do not aerate the water, just cut how much of it flows through to the shower head.
These gadgets fit onto a shower valve or mixer and cost from £3.50 to £10.
6. Baby Dam
Why run a whole bath when you’re only washing a very small human?
Devices like the Baby Dam work by blocking off a smaller portion of the bathtub and only letting that fill with water.
There are a few variants on the market, but none are cheap, costing £30 to £40 when bought new, which has to be weighed against any water bill savings.
Dambusters: The Baby Dam saves water, time and energy bill costs when it’s bath time
Water meter
Changing to a water meter may save you money if you live in a household that does not use much water.
It may also be worth changing to a meter if your property has a high council tax rateable value – as some water bills are based on this.
But getting a water meter installed can also mean your bills go up, not down.
A good rule of thumb is that you could pay less if there are fewer people in your property than there are bedrooms, according to the Citizens Advice charity.
On the clock: Water meters can save you money, but equally might cost you more too
The Consumer Council for Water has a free water meter calculator which tells you whether you could save money by getting one fitted. 
It asks questions about your water usage and gives you your estimated costs if you have a meter. If you find you are not better off after changing to a meter, you can usually change back to how the bill was paid before within twelve months.
Aside from gadgets there are a few other ways to save money on water, according to the Consumer Council for Water.
Even better, saving money on water often means energy bill savings too.
The CCW’s figures rely on a household with four occupants and a water meter. 
Take shorter showers
If everyone in the home shaved five minutes off their daily shower they could save more than £750 a year in combined water and energy costs, the CCW said.
Fix leaking loos
If your toilet constantly leaks water from the cistern into the bowl, the cost of this can add up.   
Getting your leaky loo fixed could save your household more than £350 a year, depending on how much water is being wasted.
Source: Consumer Council for Water
Turn off taps when brushing  
If everyone turned off the tap while brushing their teeth the household could save about £115 a year, the CCW said.
Fix dripping taps
A dripping tap can waste around 5,500 litres of water across the year, and getting it fixed will leave you with an extra £20 in your pocket.
Only run full dishwashers  
Cutting out two cycles of the dishwasher per week by making sure it’s always fully loaded could save a household around £60 a year in water and energy costs, the CCW said.
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