Waterwise report shows potential water savings of 25%

Posted: Friday 30th April 2010

Waterwise report shows potential water savings of 25% to help meet the challenges of climate change. Phase II of Waterwise’s Evidence Base for Large-Scale Water Efficiency in homes released.

Today Waterwise launched Phase II of ‘The Waterwise Evidence Base for Large-scale Water Efficiency in Homes’ which builds on the first report released in October 2008 and continues to demonstrate the savings that can be achieved through water efficiency in homes. The report highlights that water savings of, on average, 42 litres per property per day (around 15%) are possible by installing a range of water-efficient products in homes and through encouraging customers to make behaviour changes. This is good news for householders on a water meter who could potentially reduce their water bills by £44 a year through making their existing water-using home devices such as toilets, showers and taps more water efficient. It will also help all of us meet the challenges of climate change – we know that in coming years there will be less water and more people in the UK, and some areas of England are already classified as seriously water-stressed, so less water will need to go further. Heating less water in homes will also help reduce our carbon footprint – by almost as much as that from aviation.
These results come from Waterwise’s analysis of nine water efficiency projects carried out by Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water, South West Water, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Thames Water, United Utilities, Wessex Water and Yorkshire Water. The projects involved fitting a range of water-saving devices in thousands of customers’ homes and monitoring the savings. The devices tested ranged from aerated showerheads to kits to convert toilets to a lower-flush, or a more water-efficient dual-flush, and from water butts to encourage rainwater use in the garden to shower timers to help people behave in a more water-efficient way.

Ike Omambala, Technical Research Manager at Waterwise says: ‘These findings are significant, and go a long way to demonstrating the economic and social case for water efficiency in the UK. The savings highlighted in the report indicate that reducing water demand through water-efficiency measures is a cost-effective tool in water resource management and can offer benefits for everyone. Water companies in England and Wales have targets to reduce water consumption; energy and water companies have targets to reduce carbon emissions; local authorities want to reduce their overall environmental impact; and individuals want to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. In addition, there are government plans for every home in Britain to receive an energy-efficiency visit in the next twenty years, and it makes sense to include water efficiency in that. The government says that the average cost of an eco-upgrade for energy will be £10,000 – adding a water efficiency re-fit will add less than £50 to this price, and will help all of us adapt to the impacts of climate change, as well as helping tackle it.’
Other findings from the report include:
- The cost of installing water-efficient products could be as little as £41 per property.
- Uptake rates of between 6% and 22% can be expected in general housing stock, with higher uptake in social housing properties (between 45% and 60%)
- New water-using technologies could play a part in helping to drive down consumption, but it is likely that significant behaviour change will also be necessary, whichever technologies are employed.
- Reducing water wastage in the home can drive down carbon footprint significantly and lead to savings in energy bills.
- Partnerships are the most effective way of delivering water efficiency retrofits.

Ike continues, ‘Phase II was developed with support from the Evidence Base Steering Group and builds upon and improves the work presented in the original Evidence Base report – which Waterwise produced for the UK Environment Minister’s Water Saving Group for England. It provides better guidance for water companies on water efficiency project rollout, an improved policy framework, more informed project scenarios for better water efficiency project repeatability and improved guidance on water efficiency investment decisions. Importantly, as water efficiency is increasingly needed to help the UK meet its carbon targets and adapt to climate change, the report also contains a comprehensive and quantified analysis of the carbon and energy savings to be found in large-scale retrofitting.’

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