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When temperatures rise, it’s important to keep ourselves and our gardens hydrated – but a downside of a heatwave is that they tend to lead to water shortages, too.
There have already been water shortage warnings in the south east of England, with South East Water urging customers not to use hosepipes, sprinklers and jet-washers.
Steve Andrews, head of central operations for South East Water, said when demand is this high, they can’t treat enough raw water and get it through the extensive network of pipes to all customers, especially at peak times.
“Overnight, our water treatment works are running at near-capacity to replenish supplies into underground storage reservoirs,” he said. “But at this rate of demand the system simply can’t catch up.”
With the hot weather expected to continue in some parts of the UK for a few more days, here are some tips for cutting down your water usage at home, while still keeping yourself and your garden refreshed.
Think before you flush.
We all know not to leave taps running unnecessarily and to turn them off when brushing our teeth or shaving, but do you flush things down the toilet unnecessarily? For example, if you’ve used a tissue to blow your nose pop it in a bin rather than flushing.
Make small changes to your daily washing routine.
Showers are much more water-efficient than baths, and should absolutely be your first choice for an eco-friendly wash. Keep them as short as possible (four minutes is advisable) and avoid running the water for a long time before getting in - this should be easier during the hot weather, when the cold water as you first turn on the shower will feel pleasant rather than bracing.
If you only have a tub, you can save five litres of water just by running your bath an inch lower, according to Water UK.
Thankfully, the dishwasher isn’t a no-go.
According to Friends of the Earth, if you fill up the dishwasher completely each time you run it, you’ll use less water than you would doing the washing up - just make sure it really is a full load. Plus, a lot of dishwashers have an eco setting, so make sure you opt for that.
When making hot drinks, boil only as much water as you need. For cold drinks, fill a jug with tap water and place it in your fridge. That way, you won’t have to run your tap for a long time to get the water running cold before filling your glass.
Reuse cooking water in which you have boiled vegetables, potatoes or pasta by adding it to sauces and stocks. Also, wash your vegetables and fruits in bowls of water rather than under the tap, so you can use it to water your plants too.
Use a watering can over a hosepipe.
During the hot weather, it’s doubly as important that you are giving your garden the love it needs. To do this in an eco-friendly way, refill a watering can instead of using a hosepipe, to minimise the use of any wasted water.
Consider putting hanging baskets and flower pots into the shade for a day or two so they’re less likely to dry out.
Invest in a water butt.
Not so handy for now, but definitely useful for the future when the rain hits. A water butt enables you to use leftover rainwater to tend to your plant friends, instead of draining precious fresh water. To give a little perspective, just one filled water butt (or rainwater tank) holds enough rainwater to fill a watering can 25 times.