9 ways to save water during the heatwave and hosepipe ban including mulching plants and using grey water in the garden
Households are being urged to save water as very high temperatures and a prolonged dry spell have led to drought-like conditions now forcing some areas into a hosepipe ban.
But alongside saving water to help the environment - cutting back can save you money too - so here's 9 ways to use less this month.
1. Thirsty you, thirsty plants
Many of us take up to bed a night-time glass of water but rather than throwing down the sink any that's left by the next morning, you can use the leftovers to water your house plants when you get up.
2. Running taps are wasteful
Don’t let taps run when brushing your teeth – turn them off and encourage all family members to do the same. Friends of the Earth estimate that six litres can be lost every minute while cleaning your teeth if water is left running.
3. Plug the drain while waiting for water to run hot
In some households, it can take as long as a minute before the water turns hot. If you don’t have the plug in while this happens, litres and litres can be wasted.
Rather than waiting for your water to turn hot and letting all that water go down the drain, use a plug for your sink or if not use a container to catch this water in so that you can reuse it elsewhere in the home or garden.
4. Keep tap water in the fridge
While we sometimes run taps waiting for water to run hot we can do the same when we require it to be super cold for a refreshing drink. But keeping cold tap water in bottles or jugs in the fridge will mean you no longer need to waste water waiting for your cold tap to run cold. And if there's ever any leftover or you're refreshing bottles - don't ever pour unwanted water down the sink - donate it to a plant in need of a drink too.
5. Time your gardening
Watering when its cooler is best for both your outdoor plants and water conservation, both of which will be on the minds of gardeners as the dry weather continues.
The Royal Horticultural Society says watering in the morning will help discourage slugs, snails or other mildew diseases because the soil surface will be drier for longer, while evening watering can often mean if the conditions are cooler that less water is lost to evaporation.
And harness your technique too - be sure to water the soil so that the liquid goes straight to the roots where it is most needed. As good as it feels to give leaves and flower heads a splash of water, it's not as beneficial to the plant and so much can be lost as it drips and runs off.
6. Mulch your plants
Using bark chippings, heavy compost or something like straw over your plants can help trap in moisture when water is in short supply and there is less rain in the forecast.
The Wildlife Trust estimates that such techniques can reduce evaporation from the soil by up to 75%.
7. Take shorter showers
Can you shower in under four minutes? Knocking a minute or two off will save water and energy.
8. Fill your loads
Don’t use your dishwasher or washing machine until it is full. Get into the habit of filling your dishwasher throughout the day and then putting it on after your last meal in the evening and collect full loads of dirty washing before being tempted to switch on your machine. Just like taking shorter showers, both will save you energy and therefore money while also helping to conserve valuable water.
9. Use grey water where you can
Grey water is considered to be any waste water from your home that isn't sewage. So water from washing up bowls, baths, sinks, and washing machines are all common sources of grey water indoors.
Plants, says the RHS, can be watered with shower, bath, kitchen and washing machine water (from rinse cycles) with soil and potting composts relatively effective at filtering out things like soap and detergent. But to minimise any bacterial growth any grey water you're planning to use outside shouldn't be left for any more than 24 hours.
Using grey water to help your plants during the summer drought is possible - the only exception would be using it on edible crops due to any risk of contamination.