10 easy ways to save water

All of us want to save money on our water bills, and trimming down that expense actually isn’t as hard as you may think. Just making small adjustments to the way we use water can make a big difference.

The big 2 wasters of water are:

Irrigation - click here to find out more.

Leaks - click here to find out more.  

There are other ways that can help however, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 easy ways to save water that will help reduce your bills without being a burden on your day.

1. Drinking water

No one wants to drink the warm water that comes out the tap first.

But rather than pouring it down the plughole, catch it in a bottle or jug and pop it in the fridge.

Running out of fridge space? Your plants, fruits and vegetables and dishes won’t notice if you’re using warm water on them.

2. Cooking

We’ve all boiled vegetables without putting the lid on the pan. But if it’s become a habit, it’s time to break it!

Adding the lid boils your vegetables quicker, saves water, saves power and preserves precious vitamins in the food. It’s a quick win that will make a difference.

While we’re on the subject of cooking, here’s a couple of other things to think about.

First, use just enough water to cover your vegetables to boil them, so they’re bathing not swimming!

Second, defrost frozen food overnight in the fridge rather than using running water - it just takes a little planning.

3. Shower vs bath

We know that showers use less water than baths, but you may be shocked to find out the difference in water usage shower to shower. It all comes down to your showerhead.

By just changing your showerhead to a newer version, you could save 20,000 litres of water a year!

3-star showerheads use no more than 9 litres of water per minute, whereas older style showerheads use up to 20. That really adds up over time.

So if you shower for 6 minutes with a new style showerhead, you could save 50 litres of water each shower, which, you guessed it, saves 20,000 litres a year.

Other ways to save water in the shower


  • Take shorter showers. Limit time spent in the shower to soap up, wash down, and rinse off. Shorter showers save on energy costs associated with heating water.
  • Use a shower timer. Choose from a manual 4-minute egg timer or a more sophisticated electronic timer that either attaches to the shower wall or showerhead, or is wired into the wall during construction.
  • Use a bucket to collect tepid water while waiting for the shower to get hot.
  • Shave your legs before taking a shower. Use running shower water to rinse off.
  • Insulate hot water pipes. This avoids wasting water while waiting for hot water to flow through and saves energy.
  • Consider an instantaneous water heater if your existing water heater is located some distance to the bathroom. Talk to a plumber first to make sure it will work adequately with your 3-star showerhead.
  • Make sure your hot water system thermostat is not set too high. Adding cold water to reduce the temperature of very hot water is wasteful.


Saving water in the bath


  • Only fill the tub with as much water as needed. Use less for children and pets.
  • Check the temperature as you fill. Adding extra water to get the correct temperature after the bath is at the right level is wasteful.
  • Regularly check your plug for leaks and replace as necessary.
  • Bucket used bath water onto the garden or use it to wash your car. Check that soaps and detergents in the water won’t harm garden plants.


4. Toilets

Older toilets use much more water than newer models.

To give you some context, older, single flush toilets use around 12 L/flush, whereas modern dual-flush toilets use 3 L/half flush and 4.5 L/full flush.

5-star toilets direct hand wash water to the basin, further reducing water use.

In older toilets, it may be possible to modify the float arm to lower the flush volume, or to replace the cistern. Alternatively, toilet bags, costing around $3.00, can be used to reduce the flush volume by 2L/flush.

For all of these options, ensure that the pan is suitable for lower flow rates.

If you’re not looking to replace your toilet, it’s important to keep an eye on your existing one and check for leaks.

Our data from research and consultations tells us that, on average, a leaking toilet can waste as much as 200 000 litres of water per year. That’s almost the national average household use in a year! It can be much more than that, as a 200 000 litre per annum leak is hardly noticeable.

Here’s how to check for toilet leaks:

  • Add a few drops of dye into your toilet cisterns
  • Leave the toilet for an hour without flushing. If dye appears in the toilet bowl, this may indicate a leak.

Watch a leak detection video to see a toilet leak check in action.

5. Dishwashers

The dishwasher is the highest consumer of water in your kitchen. So our recommendation, to save your hands and your pockets, is to choose a water efficient model.

If you’re ready to buy a new dishwasher, check the appliance for a WELS (National Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme) label. The more stars on the label, the more water efficient the product. The best products have 6 stars.

While we’re on the dishwasher topic, here’s a couple more things to think about.

First, use the rinse-hold setting on the dishwasher (if it has one) rather than rinsing dishes under the tap.

Second, and this is an easy one to remember, only use the dishwasher when you have a full load.

6. Washing up

Washing up without putting the plug in the sink is a lot of wasted water each night just to clean a few pots and pans.

If you put the plug in, your bank account will thank you.

Here’s a couple of other tips:

If you have two sinks, fill one with water for cleaning and one with water for rinsing. If you only have one, stack your items on a drying rack and rinse them with a pan of hot water.

Go easy on the washing up liquid to avoid things getting too sudsy and needing more rinsing water. That’s money saved on your shopping bill too!

7. Fix leaky taps

Dripping taps don’t just sound annoying, they waste enormous amounts of water, anywhere in the region of 30-200 litres a day!

Make the earth, your ears and your wallet happy by replacing the washer (or other parts) when they get tired.

Top tap tips:

  • Flow-controlled aerators for taps are inexpensive and can reduce water flow by 50%
  • Remember to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

8. Hot water systems

Is your water coming out the tap scalding hot? Make sure your hot water system thermostat isn’t set too high. That way you won’t need to add cold water to make it lukewarm.

On the other hand, if water is coming out stone cold, insulate your hot water pipes. This avoids wasting water while waiting for the hot to flow through. Plus, it’ll save energy. Double the savings.

9. Garbage disposal units

Garbage disposal units use about 6 litres of water per day. Put suitable food scraps into a composter or worm farm rather than down the kitchen sink.

10.  Fish tanks

When you clean your fish tank, you can make use of that water rather than pouring it down the drain. Use the ‘old’ nitrogen and phosphorous-rich water on your plants and watch your garden and your savings flourish.

Many people think that Darwin has an endless supply of water, but this is a myth. We are currently using more water than can be captured and supplied in the long term.