The recent energy price hikes are likely to hit many Britons hard, and with a cold winter reportedly on the way, saving money will be on many people's minds. And while most of us will be toying with turning down the thermostat or shivering to cut down those energy bills, we might do well to consider our water consumption too.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, some 24 per cent of the average household's annual heating bill goes on heating water, whether that's the shower, the kettle or the washing machine, amounting to a £150 bill each year. And with many now on water meters, the need to reduce water consumption itself is becoming ever more important. So cut your water usage and you could save yourself a few pennies too - here's how.
Switch to a shower
A long soak in a hot bath might be tempting when it's chilly outside, but given that a standard bath has a capacity of around 80 litres, you could be paying out for that half-hour indulgence.
Lower capacity baths are available if you plan on buying a new suite, but switching to a shower will save both water and money. In fact, if a family of four replaced one bath each week with a five-minute shower, you could save up to £15 a year on gas bills, and £25 on your water bills.
The increasing popularity of power showers means many are not quite as water efficient as they used to be, but an aerated or low flow showerhead will set you back as little as £25, and will significantly reduce the amount of water you use. Just be aware that a low flow showerhead could damage an electric shower unit, so do be careful or seek professional advice.
Replace or add
Just as you can reduce your shower's water consumption, the kitchen sink and bathroom basin can be adjusted to cut down on bills. Taps with a low flow rate, such as click point, aerated or regulated flow taps, can be fitted to both bathroom and kitchen sinks. And if you don't plan on changing your accessories, then try a flow regulator instead. These are easy to install, and contain holes, filters or flow aerators to regulate the flow of water. Best of all, you probably won't even notice the difference.
Don't forget too that kitchen appliances are vastly more efficient now than they used to be. So if your old dishwasher or washing machine has finally packed up, look for A*** rated products.
Change your habits
Even if you can't afford to invest in new water-efficient products and appliances, there are simple but effective changes you can make that could save you money.
For example, were you aware that a running tap sends more than six litres of water down the drain every minute? Filling up that bowl before washing up, or turning the tap off while brushing your teeth or washing your face will save you cash when the water bills come in. According to the Energy Saving Trust, washing up in a sinkful of water twice a day instead of cleaning under the running hot tap will save £35 a year on your gas bill, and £30 on the water bill.
We Brits are similarly wasteful when it comes to heating water unnecessarily. That full-to-the-brim kettle for just one cup of tea is money down the drain, as are those half-filled dishwashers and washing machines. Think before you press the on button - you might be surprised at the difference it makes to your bill.
Have you managed to save money on your water bills? Tell us how you did it below...