Women are the new water-wasting culprits, according to Thames Water’s report that we’re wasting 50 billion litres a year. Is this kind of naming and shaming really going to encourage us to use less water, though?
Last weekend I was at a festival. One of the highlights of the weekend was the fact there were showers (and not just the out-of-the-sky sort).
Obviously I had to queue for my 15-minute shower session. But in the queue we got into discussions about how long people take in the shower. Questions were raised, such as whether men naturally take less time than women (no); do you take longer if you have more hair (yes).
Water down the drain
So I was interested to see a new water-saving enemy has been announced. Hosepipe users, people who brush their teeth with the tap running and swimming pool owners have now been joined by… women who shave their legs in the shower.
According to Thames Water, women are wasting 50 billion litres of water per year. While that’s a lot of money, is it really fair of Thames Water to be targeting women (or even men who shave in the shower) in this way? After all, according to Ofwat, the water regulator, in 2009/10, Thames Water lost 669.9 million litres of water a day just through leaks.
That’s 244.5 billion litres a year – nearly five times as much as the estimated loss through women shaving their legs in the shower. In England and Wales the industry total was 14,593.6 million litres a day for that year.
Are water meters the answer?
We all know water companies desperately need to invest in the infrastructure of our water system to prevent these leaks. After all, a lot of the system is old. But this investment is – as with energy, rail and so on – going to cost us, the consumer. Water companies will continue to increase their prices to cover that investment, with many increasing above the rate of inflation. So maybe they have a point.
After all, if you have a water meter, you pay for what you use. A Conversation back in February questioned whether a water meter in every house would help people be more conscious about water wastage. I think the jury’s still out on that one, though if you’re in a larger property or are a family you could be worse off with a water meter. But then, does having a fixed cost per year make you less conscious of how much you’re using?
Will the water waste message work?
There are other ways of cutting your costs. Water companies have metered tariffs for low-income households, and there are rumours of single person household discounts, like those for council tax. If you think you might be eligible for a discount get in touch with your water company and ask them, as these don’t seem to be very well advertised.
We all know we need to cut down on how much water we use. But will this new message work? After all, despite the many years of nagging about turning off the tap when cleaning out teeth, many of us don’t and 120 billion litres of water a year still go down the plughole just through brushing our teeth.
But even with discounts, if your supply is metered you can save even more by using less. So what are your top tips for saving water? Will this research make any difference to your behaviour, or is it all just water off a ducks back (sorry)?