By Rob Paddock
Rob_PaddockIn terms of our Constitution, municipalities in South Africa are responsible for ensuring that their residents have access to water. As service providers, they must also make sure that water is affordable, economical, sustainable and that it is provided efficiently.

However, as water users we all have a responsibility not to waste this precious resource. Small changes to our daily lifestyle and habits can go a long way towards ensuring the sustainability of our respective cities’ water resources now and in the future.

There are many design features of new and increasingly popular “green” developments that help to drastically decrease water consumption and increase electrical efficiency. Unfortunately, most of us do not live in these new developments and need to take steps to retrospectively fit our units with water and electricity saving devices. In this article we will look at a few easy ways to save water in and around your sectional title unit.


Low-flow devices can be fitted onto bathroom and kitchen taps, reducing normal tap flow from around 20 or 30 litres per minute, much of which is wasted, to a more reasonable 6 to 10 litres. Water-flow from your tap can be reduced by 50% to 75%, while the water pressure remains the same.

Bath or shower – which is more economical?

An average bath holds between 150 and 200 litres of water. The average conventional shower uses about 22 litres of water each minute, and those with a ’low-flow’ showerhead use less than half this amount per minute. Unless your kids are all sharing the bath, it seems obvious that showering is more economical than bathing. However, bear in mind that if you shower for more than ten minutes with a conventional showerhead, you are being no more economical with your water-use than you would be if you were bathing.


Geysers have an overflow pipe to prevent flooding. It is normal for water to drip from the overflow pipe that is connected to an expansion relief valve. When heated water expands, a small amount is released through this valve. The drip should stop when the temperature of the heated water stabilises. This normal drip could continue for an hour or more. Up to two litres of water can flow out of this overflow pipe each day. If there is a continuous drip or flow from the overflow pipe or the expansion relief valve and the amount of water collected from here is more than two litres a day, there is a leak. Due to the complexity of fixing leaking geysers, it is best that you call a qualified plumber to fix the problem.

Dishwashers and washing machines
Purchasing water efficient products can have a big impact on your water use. Dishwashers use on average 40 to 75 litres of water per wash, but very efficient machines can use as little as 13 litres. These will also use less electricity, as there is less water to heat.

Washing machines on average use 150 litres per wash. High-efficiency washing machines use about 30% less water and 40% to 50% less electricity. Look for machines that consume between 37 to 45 litres of water per wash. Again, less hot water means less electricity is used.

Toilets and gardens account for the greatest use of water in the average South African household, yet there are so many easy ways to avoid this. In my next article for Paddocks Press, we will look at water saving tips for your toilet and garden.

Article reference: Volume 5, Issue 3, Page 4

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.