The sun is blazing into my living room as I type. We are at that crazy time of year when the news headlines scream ‘drought!’, yet Wimbledon is delayed because of monsoon-like rains and Glastonbury is remembered as a mud bath.
The effects of drought are felt in many ways: lawns, like humans, turn brown in the scorching heat, parched crops perish and cars become a literal representation of the great unwashed. Hosepipe bans are introduced and some jumped-up jobsworths go about enforcing them with the zeal of Dirty Harry (One explains to frustrated firemen, “Yes, I know the building is on fire, but a hosepipe ban is a hosepipe ban”).
It is absurd that we are living under the threat of limited water use when we are a small island surrounded by aitch-two-oh. In faraway places where very little rain ever falls, land is irrigated, without fear of drought, by the use of desalination plants (I believe there is one on the Thames too). These plants are very expensive and the process of turning salt water into ‘council pop’ suitable for human consumption is somewhat inefficient. But if things continue the way they are, they could become essential.
In the current climate, therefore, we must place more value on what flows freely from our taps. Just as many of us have taken heed of the oft-repeated advice to save on our energy bills by making small lifestyle changes, such as using low-energy light bulbs and not leaving electrical equipment on stand-by, we should look at ways of cutting back on our water consumption too.
I am on a water meter so I pay for what I use and over the years I have adopted various water saving measures to help keep my bills low. Here are some hints on how you could follow my lead and cut down on your water usage.
I plopped a half-litre bottle full of water into my toilet cistern. The water displaced by this saves me two litres on a four flush day. That’s 730 litres I don’t pay for over the course of a year. Oh, that we could do the same with our petrol tanks.
I recycle water when I can. Only last night I got home from a long walk along the beach and I soaked my feet in a dish of warm water. After I had finished, I used the same water to boil the spaghetti for my supper (this action saved on water and parmesan).
Paddling pools take a heck of a lot of water to fill, but who would deny their young children the fun of splashing about on a summer’s day? You can cut down on the amount of water you use to fill a paddling pool by throwing in about half a dozen house bricks. You’d be surprised at how much water this saves.
These days many houses have taps fitted to outside walls for gardening use. If your next door neighbour has one, connect your hose to that and water your garden at his expense while he is at work. Wash the car as well if the hose will reach.
So there you are – a few hints on how to cut your water consumption. Adopt these small lifestyle changes and you will save enough money on your annual water bill to splash out on that other precious liquid: beer.