15 tips on ​how to save water in South Africa

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
House Oranjezicht, ATTIK Design ATTIK Design Scandinavian style garden
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One look at a world map or globe quickly reinforces the fact that about 70% of Earth is covered with water. But did you know that only about 1% of that water is easily accessible for drinking? This scary fact becomes even scarier once we take into account the water shortage that has been happening in parts of South Africa, especially Cape Town. And of course we use water not only for drinking, but also for cooking, sanitation and washing.

But relax: you and your household can do your share to help use much less water in the bathroomkitchen and garden to ensure the sustainability of our most valuable resources (because unlike electricity, we simply can’t survive without water).

1. How to save water in the bathroom

1. Check for leaks: 

Checking your plumbing for leaks is key in helping to save water, as unknown leaks can lead to approximately 11,000 L of water going to waste every year. Serious leaks may require the assistance of a professional. And find out if your homeowner’s insurance will cover any damage caused by the leak.  

【homify hint】Not sure if your toilet is leaking or not? Add a little food colouring to the tank and leave it for about 15 minutes without flushing. If the colour shows up in the toilet, there’s a leak.  

2. Close the taps: 

Close those taps when shaving or brushing your teeth and only turn them back on when it’s time for rinsing.  

3. Water-saving shower: 

Installing a water-saving shower head can take your water usage from 9.5 L per minute to about 5 – definitely worth the investment!  Also, try to take shorter showers (time yourself to about one song or two minutes). And turn off the taps when applying soap and shampoo, and only turn them back on again for rinsing.  

【homify hint】Depending on the size of your tub, a shower uses about one-third the amount of water used for taking a bath.  

4. Low flush toilet:

 After flushing your toilet, lift the handle to reduce the amount of water going down the drain. Or consider showering with a bucket and use the saved water for flushing your toilet.

➤Read more: 7 ways to save money in the bathroom

2. How to save water when doing laundry

5. Replace the washing machine:

Treating yourself to a brand-new washing machine can help to conserve water. Old-style top loaders use about 150 to 170 L per laundry load, yet a high-efficiency top-loader or front-loader can cut that in half. And front-loaders use much less water.  

6. Cold wash:

As water is needed to create energy and heat up your water, it’s best to use cold water instead of hot.  

【homify hint】Your tumble dryer requires a lot of energy; thus, hang-dry as many of your clothes as possible. 

7. Do less laundry:

A lot of clothing items don’t need to be washed after a single wear. Pyjamas, for instance, can be worn three or four times before washing them, especially if you shower before bed. Socks and underwear should only be worn once (especially in summer), but jeans and skirts can go a bit longer before being popped in the laundry bin.

【homify hint】Always do a full load of laundry to help save water, but don’t overload it, as that’ll strain your machine.

3. How to save water in the kitchen

8. Wash dishes efficiently:

Similar to your washing machine, your dishwasher should be loaded to its full capacity. And if you don’t have one, rinse those dishes in a full sink or pan of water instead of continuously washing them under an open faucet.  

9. Rinse foods in a tub:

Need to rinse some foods, like fruit and vegetables? Fill up a pan or tub of water to wash them in instead of rinsing them under the faucet each time. That water can then be used for watering your plants or flushing the toilet.  

10. Keep water in your fridge:

Keep a pitcher of drinking water in your fridge – this saves so much instead of running the tap each time you need a drink of cold water.

4. How to save water outdoors

House Oranjezicht, ATTIK Design ATTIK Design Scandinavian style garden
ATTIK Design

House Oranjezicht

ATTIK Design

11. Water metering:

One of the best ways of finding out exactly how much water you use is by installing a water meter. And if you already have one, make sure you read it correctly: read the meter once, wait about two hours without turning on any taps, then read it again. If the reading has changed, there’s a leak somewhere.  

12. When watering the plants:

  1. Water your potted plants and garden in the early mornings or evenings – this will ensure the water doesn’t immediately evaporate. And don’t water when it’s cold, rainy or windy.  
  2. Either use a trigger nozzle on your garden hose to prevent water wastage, or water your garden with a watering can. 
  3. Use grey water (i.e. from your shower bucket or that’s been rerouted from your washing machine) to water your garden, but never on anything you plan on eating (like vegetables), as the water could be contaminated.

13. Plants for water conservation:

  1. Living in an area with infrequent rain? Consider planting succulents and/or opting for artificial lawns.
  2. When mowing your lawn, don’t cut the grass too short. When longer, grass can grow deeper roots and, thus, require less water.  

14.Outdoor cleaning:

  1. It might be more work, but using a bucket to wash your car as opposed to a hose will help save so much water. And remember that many commercial car washes use less water and/or opt for water recycling systems to collect and filter used water.  
  2. First use a broom, rake or leaf blower to remove dry matter when cleaning your driveway or sidewalk. Use a bucket of water only when additional cleaning is required. 

15. Cover the swimming pool:

Use a swimming pool cover to prevent evaporation, especially in the warmer months. 

Speaking of saving, see these 9 things to avoid in order to lower your electricity bill.

Got any other tips for using less water at home? Do share!

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