Why conserve water?
Producing drinking water and treating waste water is expensive. It’s in everyone’s interests to conserve water. The less water we use, the lower our water bills. The more we conserve water, the less pressure we put on our environment – only 2% of the world’s water can be used for drinking – and the more secure Ireland’s water supply is for the future. This is vital for people’s health and well- being, our natural resources and our economy. Small changes in usage patterns can lower your water usage dramatically. Every conscious measure taken in the home, garden or beyond helps.
How can I use the grant to conserve water in the home?
There is a range of simple, inexpensive ways to conserve water and reduce your water (and energy) bills.
30% of a home’s water usage is through flushing toilets.
- Buy a water displacement device to lower the volume of water in a single flush toilet – reduce household usage by up to 9%.
- Use the grant towards installing a dual-flush toilet – reduce household usage by up to 16%.
21% of a home’s water usage is through baths and taps.
- Buy an aerator for your taps and showers. These reduce the flow of water without lowering the pressure. Reduce household usage by up to 4% with tap aerators, and up to 10% with spray aerators.
- In 2014, on average, Irish households spent €200-€700 a year heating water. Purchase pre-slit foam pipe insulation to get hot water faster and for longer. Also, installing low-flow aerators can reduce hot water usage. Both measures can reduce your energy bills. Reducing hot water usage can also help lower greenhouse gas emissions – between 3 and 7% of Ireland’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions come from heating water in homes.
21% of a home’s water usage is through washing clothes and washing up.
- If you’re thinking of buying a new appliance, use your grant towards a water efficient washing machine or dishwasher. Efficient washing machines can reduce water usage by 3%. Look for the EU water label on appliances and choose the most efficient.
12% of a home’s water usage is through showers.
- Buy a low-flow/aerator shower head and reduce total water usage by up to 12%.
How can I use the grant to conserve water outdoors?
7% of a home’s water usage is outdoors.
- Buy a water butt for diverting rainwater from pipes and gutters, for use in gardens and outdoors. Water butts with 100-210 litre capacity are available in many garden centres or hardware stores.
- Purchase a rose head watering can so you can manage plant watering better than with a hose.
- Purchase mulches made from bark, gravel and woodchips – these control weed growth and ensure water gets to plants and isn’t lost in evaporation.
How can I use the grant to reduce leakage in my home?
Householders are responsible for leaks within the boundary of the property. Even the smallest leaks can result in huge water wastage. Did you know that:
- Irish Water estimates that 6% of all water it produces is lost through household leaks. About half of these are inside the house;
- Faulty toilet cisterns were found to be the most common source of internal leaks; and
- A dripping tap can waste over 3,000 litres per year.
With your grant:
- Fix dripping taps, plumbing water fixtures, cisterns or pipes – indoors and outdoors.
- Buy food colouring to check for toilet leaks – put colouring in the toilet cistern; if a toilet is leaking, colouring will appear within 30 minutes.
I am worried about lead in my drinking water – how can I use the grant?
If you live in a house built up to and including the 1970s, you may have lead plumbing or lead pipes that have not been replaced. If so, it may be possible that there is lead in your drinking water. Lead pipes are usually dark grey or black (unless painted) with a dull coating and the joints appear to be ‘swollen’. A simple way of identifying lead is to scrape the pipe gently with a coin or a knife – if a shiny silver strip is revealed, then the pipe is lead.
I have a private well - how can I use the grant?
Testing your well water regularly is vital for ensuring your drinking water quality is high.
- Use your grant towards getting your water quality tested - preferably once a year for bacterial contamination (including E.Coli) and every three years for possible chemical contamination. Well water is most likely to be affected by pollution following a period of heavy rain.
- Use your grant towards maintenance or servicing of your well. This can reduce the risk of contamination and make sure your well and well pump work properly. You could:
- Install or repair a well pump - a faulty pump can drive up electricity bills
- Seal a disused well
- Install a new sealed well cap to lessen the risk of pollution
I have a septic tank – how can I use the grant?
Septic tanks or other domestic waste water treatment systems need to be maintained. Without maintenance they may end up needing replacement, which can be very expensive. A system that doesn’t work properly can contaminate groundwater and private wells. Contaminated drinking water can contain bacteria, germs, bugs and harmful chemicals that can cause serious illness and damage the environment.
The gathering of effluent and soil contamination around septic tanks can be a danger to public health, including exposing humans and animals to disease. This can also cause unpleasant odours.
- Use your grant towards having your septic tank or domestic waste water treatment system maintained and serviced, or for getting it pumped out (de-sludged) regularly.
Where can I get more information?
For more information on water conservation visit:
www.water.ie (Irish Water)
www.nfgws.ie (National Federation of Group Water Schemes)
www.epa.ie (Environmental Protection Agency)
For more information on testing water quality or maintaining private wells visit: www.epa.ie
For more information on septic tanks or domestic waste water treatment systems visit:
Contact your local authority for a list of permitted contractors who service or de-sludge domestic waste water treatment systems.
For more information on lead in drinking water, visit:
www.hse.ie/water (Health Service Executive)
www.water.ie/lead (Irish Water)
For more ideas for your water conservation grant visit: http://www.environ.ie/en/Environment/Water/WaterConservationGrant/