Study shows people underestimate household water usage by more than half

Nearly a quarter of people in the UK have admitted they have no idea how much water they use, according to a new study.

Research commissioned by the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS) found that 24% of those polled did not know their water consumption. And the study showed that while the average UK household uses 350 litres a day people said their family usage was just 157 litres – underestimating consumption by more than half (55%).

Despite pressure on household budgets from rising bills, 38% of people do not actively look for water-saving advice and 47% don’t have any kind of water saving device at home.

Julie Spinks, managing director of WRAS said:

“People are still not giving a huge amount of thought to their water usage at home, even if it could save them money and help the environment. There is still a long way to go in convincing most households to be more conscious of their water consumption.

“Many water companies give away water efficiency products to customers for free. Products such as toilet leak detection strips, shower timers and cistern displacement devices can save litres of valuable water, and WRAS supports the use of compliant plumbing products that use technology to automatically reduce water and energy consumption, without people even noticing a difference.”

While 53% of UK homes now have a water meter the WRAS research shows that old, bad habits are still prevalent.

  • 10% wash the car with a hose pipe, not a bucket
  • 22% leave the tap running whilst brushing their teeth
  • 13% have a bath followed by a shower
  • 29% do not reuse water when cooking or preparing food

And people also massively misjudged how much water their washing machines consumed. Over 80% assumed that 18 litres per load was used on average but in fact around 50 litres per wash is the norm, with older machines using even more water.

In the bathroom, people spend an average of seven minutes 30 seconds in the shower – and that could use up to 90 litres of water. They also leave the tap running while brushing their teeth for an average of 54 seconds, which would waste as much as 12 litres of water.

The WRAS survey of 2,000 people also found that when looking for water-saving advice:

  • 40% would ask their water company
  • 18% would ask their friends and family
  • 13% would use social media
  • 6% would ask their plumber.

If you would like to see how you can save water at home, take a look at our article 22 ways to conserve water at home