What do we want for Christmas? A smaller water footprint!
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season – organising the decorations, the food, the parties, the presents – who has time to spare a thought for the amount of water we get through? With parents and grandparents enjoying some time off and kids out of school, plus plenty of extra cooking and family visits, our taps, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines end up working overtime during the festivities – and that adds up to a big surge in our seasonal water use and a knock-on effect on our water bills.
If you're on a water meter, the Christmas water footprint can certainly contribute to bigger bills in the New Year. If you're not on a water meter, you may feel like you're safe but actually the same applies, though you'll see as a general increase in the standard water rates instead.
Give your family the gift of a smaller water footprint this Christmas!
Have a water smart holiday with the following canny water saving tips for all over the festive home. We've divided them into two categories for simplicity's sake: we can put the BASIC tips into practise immediately, ADVANCED tips are for serious water savers and might require extra time or equipment...
Water saving tips for Christmas cooking
>> Seems like the kettle's always on over Christmas! For those endless cups of tea, measure the water into the kettle using a mug or use the cup measurements on the side of the kettle, so you only boil what you're going to use.
>> Save your non-starchy vegetable water for making gravies and stocks.
>> Use tight-fitting lids on pans when cooking. The food cooks faster and requires less water.
>> Don't contribute to Christmas fatbergs in our sewers! Leave used cooking fat and oil to cool. Pour into a strong container with a lid and take it to the recycling centre with the rest of your Christmas recycling.
>> Buy a steamer basket for your vegetables. As well as saving water, veg retains more flavour and nutrients when steamed instead of boiled or braised.
>> Invest in a pressure cooker for faster, healthier cooking using a minimum amount of water. Mashed potatoes in a matter of a few minutes!
Water saving tips for Christmas washing up
>> When washing up in the sink, always use a washing up bowl.
>> Wash glass items first to make sure of a streak-free finish. With the rest of the plates and cutlery, wash from least dirty to most dirty to get the most from the water.
>> Really greasy pans can be left to soak in the remaining water before a final clean up with fresh water the next day.
>> When using the dishwasher, always wait until you have a full load before starting a cycle and choose the eco setting if your machine has one.
>> Don't bother to pre-rinse plates going into the dishwasher, just scrape off any clinging bits to avoid clogging the machine.
>> Switch to eco-friendly washing up liquid and dishwashing detergent to help keep our waterways healthy.
Water saving tips for Christmas bathrooms
>> Keep showers to 4 minutes or less. To help you along we've found the perfect playlist of songs exactly under 4 minutes. You can try a different tune every time you shower this month with the aim of getting out when the song has finished.
>> If you have a shower with a thermostatic valve or digital setting, try switching off the water when you're lathering up and then switching it back on once you're ready to rinse.
>> "If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, let it mellow." Your family might be squeamish types, in which case this probably isn't the hill you want to die on, yet should your crew be more relaxed with bodily functions this is an easy way to save dozens of litres of water every day.
>> Put a container or bin for waste products in the bathroom, so that people aren't tempted to flush what they shouldn't. If you have space, then a separate box for recyclables is a nice touch!
>> Check your water company's website for free or subsidised water saving gadgets for the bathroom. For example, a 'flush saver' or, to give it its full title, a Cistern Displacement Device (CDD) when installed into your toilet water tank will save a litre of water with every flush. For more automatic water savings, fit aerating flow limiters to bathroom taps or an eco-showerhead in the shower.
>> Need to run the shower while the water heats up? Consider keeping a clean bucket or bowl nearby and collecting some of the cold water as you wait. Why not use the rescued water on your real Christmas tree, houseplants or even for flushing the toilet?