After looking at the data on their water bill, Shelley Scarlett says she was shocked to see her family’s usage was higher than an average three-person household in Auckland. She got in touch with Watercare and they connected her with our waterwise advice line, delivered by EcoMatters.
Shelley shared her family’s water-use habits with EcoMatters sustainability advisor Olivia Tukuogo, who then created a report tailored for the family.
The family already had an efficient showerhead and dual-flush toilets, so Olivia had to find other areas where savings could be made.
In the kitchen, she suggested installing a flow-restricting aerator to the mixer tap. That simple improvement immediately halved the flow rate.
Shelley had carried out a simple leak test prior to phoning EcoMatters and had picked up a ‘slow leak’ of 1.1 litres overnight. She also reported hearing the toilet refilling occasionally during the night. On hearing this, Olivia suggested they place a piece of toilet paper inside the back of the toilet bowl to determine whether the cistern was leaking into the pan – a common and easily-repaired problem usually caused by perished rubber seals.
Shelley says the paper became wet within minutes, confirming the source of the slow leak.
Outside, Olivia recommended mulching around shrubs and on non-edible garden beds in order to retain moisture, suppress weed growth and add nutrients to the soil. The family’s thirsty large palm will appreciate this in the summer heat.
Shelley says the hardest change to make has been using the washing machine less frequently after learning that the average number of washing loads for a family of their size is four full loads a week.
“We were doing up to 10 because of our decision to use cloth nappies, so this has stuck with me and I’m very conscious now of how many loads we do. If I can stretch out another day between washes, I do!”
Shelley says the advice line is “a wonderful service. It is really comprehensive and personalised, which made me take on board the suggestions a lot more than if someone just generally told me to take shorter showers”.
Her advice to other high-water using households is simple: “Awareness is key. You can’t change your habits if you’re not aware that there is a problem.”
(Article reprinted with permission of Watercare Services Limited)