How much does your water use contribute to your energy bill? - Inteb

How much does your water use contribute to your energy bill?


Every household in the UK uses an average of around 350 litres of water each day. And about 53 per cent of an average annual combined energy bill is from heating the water for showers, baths and hot water from the tap. This, according to the Energy Saving Trust, costs on average about £228 a year.

Saving water can reduce your water bill – if you’re on a water meter – reduce your energy use and bills, reduce the impact on your local environment and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using less energy to pump, heat and treat the water.

When we use water, we are often using energy, mostly to heat the water. Generating energy produces carbon dioxide emissions which is one of the main greenhouse gases causing climate change. Water use accounts for 6 per cent of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions, 89 per cent of this comes from heating water in our homes.

No-one likes to waste water. However, many of us don’t realise that water usage contributes to energy bills. Simple water use changes can save you money.

Water heated by a boiler

In most homes, the hot water is supplied by the main central heating boiler, either directly if it is a combi boiler, or from a hot water cylinder. Often there will be an electric immersion heater in the cylinder as well.

Tip – use the boiler to heat the water, even in the summer. The immersion heater will be more expensive, and should only be used as an emergency back-up.

Water heated by immersion

In some homes, particularly those with electric storage heaters, water can only be heated by an immersion heater. There may be two immersions, one in the top of the cylinder and one in the bottom. Usually, the bottom heater comes on at night and heats the whole cylinder using cheap off-peak electricity. The top heater is used to provide additional hot water during the day if required, using expensive peak rate electricity.

Tip – do not leave a peak rate immersion heater on all day and all night. You will waste a lot of money keeping water hot when you don’t need it.

Five steps to saving money on your hot water bills

Use less water and hot water in particular.

Insulate your hot water cylinder: A well fitted tank jacket could save around £20 a year, more if you heat your water electrically. Insulating the hot water pipes will save more energy and can help your taps to run hot more quickly.

Controls: Make sure you have the right controls and have them set correctly to give you enough hot water when you want it, not when you don’t.

Fuel switching: Gas is cheaper than electricity or oil, so consider switching if you can.

Solar: Once fitted, solar water heating can provide a good proportion of your hot water requirements with virtually no running costs.

Passive Flue Gas Heat Recovery Device: If you have a combi boiler, you may not be able to fit solar water heating, but you may be able to fit a Passive Flue Gas Heat Recovery Device. This recovers additional heat from the boiler’s flue gases and uses it specifically to heat the hot water supply.

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Water-saving products

Water-efficient shower heads: New water-efficient shower heads use technology that can produce water flows that feel far higher than they actually are – an easy way to save both water and energy. They are most effective on power and mixer showers with a high flow rate. You should not attach a low flow shower head to an electric shower as this could cause possible damage to your shower unit.

Reduced-capacity baths: A standard bath has a capacity of around 80 litres so even when it’s less than half full it uses a lot of water. If you’re buying a new bath, look for one with a lower capacity. You can always save water and money by taking a quick shower instead of a bath.

Water-efficient appliances: Looking to replace water-using appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines? Look for products with the new Water Efficient Product Label and/or the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark as these models can help to save water, energy and money.

Lower flow taps: Taps with a low flow rate can be fitted to bathroom and kitchen sinks. Click point taps are better for kitchen sink taps, aerated or regulated flow taps are more suitable for a bathroom sink. All work very well.

Flow tap aerators and regulators: If you’re not replacing taps or shower units, you can still save water by fitting flow regulators to showers and aerators to taps. Flow devices are easy to install. They often contain precision-made holes, filters or flow aerators to regulate the flow of water without changing how it feels to you. If you have an electric shower you should not fit a flow regulator as this could cause possible damage to your shower unit.

Water efficiency labelling: To help identify water-efficient products, look for the European Water Label that is an easy way to recognise bathroom products which, when installed and used correctly, will use less water, save energy and save money. Award-winning water-efficient products may also carry the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark.

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Water-saving habits

Snub the tub: If everybody in your family of four replaces one bath a week with a five-minute shower, you can save up to £20 a year on gas bills and up to £25 on water bills if you have a water meter.

Change your head: If a family of four replaces its inefficient shower head with a water-efficient one it could save around £65 off gas bills and around £100 off water bills, if there is  a water meter, each year. That’s a total saving of around £165.

Turn it off: A running tap wastes more than six litres of water a minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face. Use cold water if you don’t need hot.

Don’t be a drip: A dripping tap can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year so make sure your taps are properly turned off and change washers promptly when taps start to drip.

Make it go further: Try to avoid wasting water from running taps while waiting for hot water.

Fill them up: Make sure that dishwashers and washing machines are full before you use them and always use the most efficient water and energy settings.

Information provided by the Energy Saving Trust, an independent and impartial organisation helping people throughout the UK to save energy. Its experts speak with millions of householders every year, deliver programmes for governments and provide consultancy to UK businesses and international companies.

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