Wasted water isn't just money down the drain, its a precious resource. Because water is there at the turn of a tap (a.k.a faucet), we tend to use more than we really need.

Around 80% of total water used each year is used inside the house, with the remaining 20% being used outside, particularly on the garden - it is sprinkled, squirted, dripped, gushed and often wasted.

Saving water is easy and it can save you money. All it takes is a little thought. By following the suggestions below, it is estimated that you could reduce consumption by up to 45%.

In the house

Use your automatic washing machine or dishwasher for full loads only
Every time you run your washing machine, you use about 120 litres of water. A dishwasher can use 20 to 60 litres of water per wash. So make each wash count, by making sure they are full loads.

Check for leaks
A leaking toilet may be silently wasting untold amounts of precious water - to check for leaks, put a little food colouring in your toilet tank.

If, without flushing, the colour begins to appear in the bowl, the cistern should be replaced immediately.

Install water saving shower heads or flow restrictors
Many shower heads put out 20 litres of water a minute, while 10 litres is actually enough for a refreshing, cleansing shower. Your local hardware or plumbing supply store stocks inexpensive, water saving shower heads that you can install yourself.

Or take shorter showers - long, hot showers waste 10 to 20 litres of water every unnecessary minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes you to soap up, wash down and rinse off.

Install or convert your toilet to dual flush
Most toilets use 12 litres of water per flush. Install a dual flush toilet and use the full flush button only when needed. Save over 60 litres a day.

Take baths in moderation
If you want to soak, a bath in a partially filled tub uses less water than long showers.

In the garden

Water the roots not the leaves
Contrary to popular belief, watering the leaves of trees and shrubs is not beneficial. It just increases water loss through evaporation. In fact, in some circumstances water on leaves on hot, sunny days can damage them.

Soak - don't spray
While giving the garden a quick drink every night may be good therapy for you, it does little for the plants. It makes them shallow rooted and dependant on the meagre amount of water you provide.

Most of this water is wasted through evaporation. Water your plants every fourth day in summer, but water for longer periods. This makes the plants hardier and encourages the roots to go deeper into the soil to seek out moisture. Also, don't water during the middle of hot, sunny days.

Use a good mulch
Mulches can prevent up to 73% evaporation loss and they are one of the cheapest ways to make the most of water in the garden. The best mulch is a well rotted compost which will improve the soil structure. Place the mulch away from the trunks of trees to prevent collar rot occuring.

Group plants
By grouping the plants in the garden into high or low water users, you can design a watering pattern that is better for your plants and will prevent waste on the plants that don't need it.

Remove weeds
Weeds compete for water and nutrients in the garden. Once removed, a good mulch will help stop weeds from taking root.

Use a timer with your sprinkler
A forgotten sprinkler can waste over 1,000 litres per hour - a timer will allow you to place as much water as is needed without wastage.

Install a drip system
This is probably the most efficient method of watering your plants. It places the water right where it is needed and at a rate that the soil can absorb. It is also cheap and easy to install.

If you want a green lawn on a budget
Toughen the lawn with only two waterings a week, give it a feed (but don't over-fertalise), aerate the soil and do not mow to less than two centimetres.

Sow drought tolerant lawn seed
A lawn can use more water per square metre than any other area in your garden. So it pays to consider sowing more drought tolerant lawn seed mixtures such as: Kikuyu, Couch Grass, Native Grasses, Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass.

Don't water the paths
Design the sprinkler system to water the garden, not the concrete. If you want clean paths, use a broom.

Washing the car

Follow these simple steps and you will have a gleaming car using minimum water and effort, and your lawn will benefit at the same time.

  • park the car on the lawn
  • give the car a quick spray with the hose to loosen dirt and grit
  • turn off the hose and wipe away the dirt a section at a time, with a sponge soaked in soapy water from a bucket
  • each time a section has been completed, use a brief spray with the hose and rinse away the loosened dirt and soap
  • wipe the car dry with a clean, soft chamois