Simple ways to save water in and around the home

A person washing up dishes in the sink

Nicola Dowse

Posted July 08, 2022

From your bathroom to your garden, here are some easy ways to reduce your water consumption – and your bill. 

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world, making water one of our most precious natural resources. 

With Melbourne growing faster than any other city in Australia, our growth is putting even more strain on local water supplies. During 2020-2021, the average Melbourne resident used 159 litres of water per day, a number which authorities are hoping to reduce to 155 litres. 

But reducing your water usage at home doesn’t have to be a chore and making a few easy changes can even help your bottom line.  

Water saving in the kitchen

Install a dishwasher… and use it properly 

You might have heard that using a dishwasher is more water efficient than washing dishes by hand. But that’s only true if you wait till you’ve a full load before switching on your dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher or have small household that rarely fill it, handwash your dishes instead. 

Turn off taps 

Every minute you leave a tap running can waste around six litres of water, so it’s more efficient to fill a sink when handwashing dishes. If you want to rinse your dishes after scrubbing in soapy water, you can fill a second sink, bucket or pan with fresh water. Go easy on the detergent too, as using less will also reduce your need to rinse after scrubbing. 

Check for leaks  

Water leaks aren’t just wasteful – they can cause nasty surprises when your water bill arrives. If you do notice your water usage on your bill increasing without reason, it’s a good idea to do a water leak check – here’s how. If your home is fitted with flexi hoses it’s even more important to proactively check for leaks - they’re the leading cause of internal water leaks.



A person checking a showerhead

Upgrading to a water efficient showerhead can almost halve the amount of water you use every minute. Photo: Getty

Water saving in the bathroom

Switch up your shower 

We all love a long, hot shower, but every minute you spend in the shower can use between nine and 19 litres of water. Setting a timer can help you cut down on time spent in the shower, as can installing a modern water efficient shower head. Some Victorian water providers even have showerhead exchange programs where you can get rebate for upgrading to a more water efficient fixture.

Fix drips 

Don’t just close the door and ignore that tell-tale drip – a leaking tap can waste 9,000 litres of water a year. The good news is most dripping taps are easily fixed – refer to this handy guide at the first sign of a tap that drips or is hard to turn off. 

Save cold water 

If your boiler takes a bit of time to heat up your bath or shower, don’t let all that cold water go to waste. Keep a bucket in your bathroom and place it under your faucets while waiting for the water to warm. That water can then be used to water houseplants or your garden. 

Water saving in the laundry

Fill ‘er up 

Just like your dishwasher, your washing machine is most water efficient when washing a full load. Waiting until your machine is full to put it on also helps conserve energy and potentially reduce your power bill. 

Upgrade your machine 

Electric washing machines have come a long way since they first hit the market in the 1930s, with new models increasingly water and energy efficient. When buying a new machine check the model’s water rating – the more stars, the less water it uses – and for ‘eco’ wash functions. Generally speaking, a front loader is more water efficient than a top loader. 


A person putting a towel into a front-loading washing machine

Front loader washing machines generally use less water than top loaders. Photo: Matt Harvey

Water saving in the garden

Plant wisely 

Because the continent is so dry, many plants native to Australia have evolved to require less water. Native species like banksias, grevilleas, eucalypts, and wattles don’t need as much water as non-native species and are more likely to survive periods of drought.

Mulch more 

Did you know that mulching your plants can reduce the amount of water that evaporates from your plants by 70 per cent? It’s true – using mulch means you don’t have to water plants as much and has the added benefit of helping prevent weeds.

Water early or late 

The sun is less strong in the morning and afternoon. This means that if you water at these times, you’re not going to lose as much water to evaporation. To help your garden even more, water your plants for longer, but at less frequent intervals. 

Go grey 

Greywater is the used water from your sinks, shower and bath (not toilets). Usually, it just goes down the drain, but you can redirect it into a greywater system and use it to water your plants – thus getting twice the mileage out of the same amount of water.

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