7 ways to save water at home

hand with water dripping onto it

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted October 18, 2021

Simple tips and tricks to help stop wasting water at home. 

Many Australians who lived through the Millennium Drought from the late 90s to the early 00s will remember the ‘four-minute shower’ mantra and the catchphrase, ‘Have a shower with your fella, Stella’ coined by the water saving campaign during the time period.  

Over the past two decades, there has been a growth in awareness to protect the environment, improve sustainability, and avoid water shortages – yet more can still be done. More than one billion litres of Australia’s treated water is lost every day due to leaks and cracked pipes, all while rainfall in Australia continues to sit well below the global average.

In Melbourne, more than two thirds of the city’s water supply is used in households. Put simply, while water is a necessary life resource, our availability and supply are declining due to climate change and overuse.

We are currently using more water than can be stored for long-term use. This natural resource is depleting in supply – so here’s how to save it.

why do you need to save water infographic

How to use less water at home


Fill your washing machine with more, less often

Problem: There are only three certainties in life – death, taxes, and laundry. If you’re going to be doing it forever, you may as well do your bit for the planet too. Washing machines are typically the biggest water-users in the home, with top loader machines usually the main culprit.

Solution: If you are ready for an upgrade, look for a machine that is more water-efficient.

If you’re not quite ready to splash the cash, make sure you’re doing a full load of laundry per cycle rather than say, just washing a single beach towel. Now your machine will be exerting less energy and will help lessen your power bills too. Win-win!

Have shorter, more efficient showers

Problem: According to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) showers use the most hot water out of any appliance. Not does this send perfectly good water down the drain, but increases your water bills too.

Solution: The easiest and most simple solution is of course to have shorter showers. Though you want to make sure you have enough time to be clean, it may not be the best place for karaoke.

If you're looking to up your water saving game further, the Victorian Government provides a rebate to households looking to switch to efficient shower heads through the Victorian Energy Upgrades program. These water-efficient showerheads use 40 per cent less water, saving over 10,000 litres of water a year.

Fix dripping taps

Problem: While the sound of a dripping tap can be torturous for some, others may have a leaking tap on the bottom of their ‘to-do list’. This may not seem like a big deal, but a dripping tap but can waste around 24,000 litres of water per year.

Solution: When doing everyday activities like washing dishes and brushing your teeth, make sure to securely turn the tap off. If you have a leaky tap in your home that you have been unable to fix, consider booking in a tradie to assist. 

Think before you flush

Problem: In no way are we advising that you not flush your toilet, but keep in mind that everyday flushing and small leaks can add up to huge amounts of water. A tiny leak can waste almost 4,000 litres per year, as a visible leak can waste almost 96,000 litres and hundreds of dollars. We have a guide on how to spot a leak here.

Solution: Consider investing in a toilet with a dual flush to make sure you’re only using as much water as needed. Also consider adjusting the flush volume via the tap.

Lastly, ensure you fix any leaks, however small.

Filling a dishwasher makes sure you are not using water unnecessarily. Image: Getty.
Putting the washing machine on with a full load will also help you save on your water bill over time. Image: Getty.
Consider watering plants with a watering can rather than overuse with a hose if you can. Image: Getty.

Make sure the dishwasher is full

Problem: As smart as your dishwasher may be, it does not know how many dishes are inside, and so will use the same amount of water whether it has one dish or 100 in there.

Solution: Forget what your mum told you and skip the ‘rinse under the tap’ rule. Instead, look to be more efficient by using a wet sponge to remove larger leftovers. When it’s time for a new model, consider a dishwasher with a higher WELS rating, meaning it will use less water per wash.

Use less water in the garden

Problem: Many avid green thumbs can be guilty of over-watering their plants. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) claims over 40 per cent of household water is used outdoors – and this doesn’t account for large gardens or swimming pools.

Solution: Plants should only be watered as fast as the soil can absorb the moisture, and many don’t need to be watered every day or even weekly. Consider using water collected from inside the home or from a water tank. Watering cans are also a great alternative to a hose to prevent overuse.

DISER also advises to water your garden in the early morning or evening, in order to prevent the sun stealing most of the water.

Upgrade to a solar-powered hot water system

Problem: Clunky old hot water systems may already be costing you a fortune with high energy costs, but much of the water may go down the drain as you wait for the water to heat up, or get lost through steam thanks to a faulty unit.

Solution: Solar powered hot water systems use less energy and save money in the long run. By upgrading to a solar hot water system or smart heat pump hot water system, you can save up to 80% of your annual energy use. Additionally, government rebates or concessions may be available depending on the energy saving systems you are looking to install. 

Make sure your home insurance is current and covers you for the right items and structures Discover more →

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.