When the City of Cape Town announced level 4 water restrictions earlier this month, Health24’s EnviroHealth expert, Olivia Rose-Innes, decided to measure her own daily and weekly use for each daily activity.
She recorded how much water she used every time she washed her hands, brushed her teeth, showered, cooked, etc. to see how much water she was using per day.
Appliances vary considerably
Olivia’s water use came to an average 66.5 litres per day, proving that it is possible to remain below the recommended water usage of 100 litres per person per day.
Her weekly consumption can be broken down as follows:
- Toilet flush: 126 litres (two flushes per day; the rest of the time use grey water)
- Washing hands: 25.2 litres (12 times per day, on average)
- Brushing teeth: 5.6 litres (twice per day)
- Bath: 50 litres (1 half-full bath per week, which includes water for rinsing hair. Washing your hair once a week may be less than you or your hair type can tolerate but it’s perfectly hygienic.)
- Sponge bath: 1.8 litres (six times per week. Sponge baths are also hygienic if done properly: it’s how patients are washed in hospital. Make sure you keep your washcloths/sponges scrupulously clean, and use a fresh one every time you wash.)
- Handwashing dishes: 63 litres (3.5 sink-loads per week)
- Dishwasher: 29 litres (one load per week)
- Washing machine: 112.5 litres (1.5 loads per week)
- Cooking: 7 litres (average one litre per day)
- Water for tea/coffee: 4.2 litres (average three cups per day)
- Refilling pet water bowl: 6.3 litres (three cat bowls per day)
- Dripping tap: 35 litres
- TOTAL = 465.6 litres per week OR 66.5 litres per day
But, she also identified dripping taps as the worst water thieves in her household.
She suggests that everyone does a water audit on their usage. Appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers vary considerably when it comes to water consumption, as do different people’s ideas of what is meant by “taking a bath/shower”.
“Your best bet is to conduct your own mini-audit,” Olivia says. “My top water-saving tip is to swap conventional baths and showers for sponge baths, at least a few times a week. You’ll use about 300ml as opposed to 80 litres.”
Another good exercise, if you haven’t done it already, is to simply locate and know how to read your water meter so you can keep tabs on your household’s progress.
Have you measured your daily water consumption?