How saving water at home can help you save energy too

Posted in: Indoors by Energy Saving Trust Published: 8 November 2022

Though it may feel like the UK has a lot of water, it’s a precious resource that can’t be taken for granted.

Even if we receive our usual winter rainfall, we could still see environmental impacts in 2023 after the exceptionally dry summer experienced by most of the UK.

What’s more, many of us may not realise that our water use at home contributes to our energy bills and our household carbon emissions. In fact, water is intrinsically linked to energy.

What’s the connection between water and energy?

Heating water makes up 18% of the energy used by an average household

Each time we use water, we also use energy. Heating water makes up 18% of the average household’s energy consumption so using less water means using less energy too. Heating water in our homes makes up around 5% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions.

And there’s also all the energy that’s needed to treat, pump and deliver water to each home in the UK.

So, by saving water, you’re saving energy too – which is good for your wallet and the planet.

How do we use water?

We all need water and use it in so many ways around the home. Through cooking, washing our hands and showering, the litres of hot water soon add up.

We often need to use cold water too – from cleaning and gardening, washing the car to flushing the toilet. Reducing this can save on our water bills (if you have a water meter) and carbon emissions that are produced when transporting fresh water to our homes and treating our wastewater.

After the prolonged dry weather, our groundwater, rivers and reservoirs may not fully recover in time for next summer, so it’s time to get the whole family involved in saving water – helping to save money, energy and the planet.

Water and energy saving tips

In the bathroom

You might not be surprised to learn that showers are the biggest source of water going down the drain in the home, while we spend billions each year heating the water for them.

But did you know that spending just one minute less in the shower could save you £45 on your energy bills each year, in a four-person household? If you’ve got a water meter, it’ll save you an extra £30 on your water bills too as you’re using – and paying for – less water!

Low flow shower head

Keeping showers to 4 minutes could save you hundreds of pounds

If you’ve got a family member who likes to take long showers, challenge them to a 4-minute shower. Set the timer for 4 minutes, or find a song that’s about the right length, and challenge them to finish showering before it ends!

Replacing the average shower length in the UK with a 4-minute shower could knock £165 off the annual energy bill for a household of four, and an extra £100 off your water bill if you’re on a meter. That’s a total saving of £265.

You might also want to consider upgrading your shower head with an energy efficient one. A regulated shower head could save the same household £75 on energy bills and an extra £45 on water bills, if you’re metered.

In the kitchen

Washing our clothes and dishes also accounts for a big chunk of our energy and water use. Fortunately, there are some quick and easy changes every family can make to their washing habits.

Washing at 30 degrees uses 57% less electricity

Washing your clothes at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures could save the average household around £17 a year on their energy bills. This is because washing at 30 uses an impressive 57% less electricity than washing at higher temperatures and saves 10kg of carbon – and your clothes will be just as clean!

In fact, if everyone in the UK switched from higher temperature washes down to 30 degrees, together we could save over £490 million on electricity bills each year.

Another tip for your next wash is to try and fill your washing machine before setting it off. Making sure the machine is full and cutting back your washing machine use by just one run per week could save you another £17 a year on your energy bills – and an extra £5 if you have a water meter. That’s a combined saving of £34 if you keep to 30 degrees and reduce your use by one run a week.

Why we should use water wisely

We know that no-one likes to waste water. But it can be harder to realise that our water use contributes to our energy bills.

Finding ways to reduce our energy consumption is more important now than ever before, with energy prices set to rise again in October and households facing a steep increase to annual household bills.

Using water wisely can not only help to preserve our supply, but it also saves energy, money and reduces our impact on the planet. If you’re looking for more ways to save water and energy this year, visit Energy Saving Trust.

*England, Scotland and Wales savings are for a four-person, gas-heated home in Great Britain, using a gas price of 10.3p/kWh and electricity price of 34.0p/kWh (based on Energy Price Guarantee October 2022). Water savings are based on average occupancy. Statistics and savings are based on discounted rates to ensure customers are provided with as accurate information as possible at time of publication. Correct as of 1 October 2022. Please note, the discounts are subject to change pending timelines for implementation.