Water saving home guide

Making your home water-efficient needn’t cost a fortune. You can do a lot with a few dollars, and even more with a few hundred.
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03.In the kitchen

Washing the dishes

Dishwashers these days generally use a lot less water than they used to — even less than washing dishes by hand in the sink. The average water consumption for the 50 machines CHOICE tested recently was 13.6L. Conservative estimates of hand washing show at least 20L is used. Less conservative scenarios go as high as 90L (presumably involving lots of running water being wasted).

If you’re in the market for a new model, check out the water efficiency of models in our most recent Dishwashers reviews and consider our Buying guide before making your next purchase.

Top tips for dishwashersSponge and dishes

  • You can save water by not rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher. CHOICE tests each dishwasher’s washing performance by getting it to wash a load of dishes and cutlery coated with food that’s been left to dry on overnight.
  • As most machines now effectively get these clean on a ‘normal’ program, there’s no need to waste water by rinsing plates before you stack — just scrape the food scraps off first.
  • If you do pre-rinse (because you don’t run the machine every day), try using the dishwasher on its ‘fast’ program, which uses less water. You’re likely to find it washes just as well.

Top tips for handwashing dishes

  • Rinsing dishes under a running tap isn’t necessary and wastes a lot of water. To rinse drinking glasses, wash them first while the sink is still filling and rinse them under the hot running water. When you’ve finished washing up, tip a pot of rinse water over the plates and cutlery as they stand in the dish drainer.

Hot water recirculation

If you have taps a long way from the hot water system, chances are you waste a lot of water letting the cold water run through before it warms up.

A hot water recirculation system intercepts the cold water before it goes out the tap and pumps it through the cold water inlet into the hot water tank. So when you want hot water, you activate the system (by pushing a button), and once the thermostat detects that the water is warm enough, the pump switches off, you turn the tap on and hot water comes out. The pump uses very little energy, as it’s only on for those few seconds when you need it.

We came across models ranging from around $450 to $900 (plus installation). They’re more elegant (though a lot more expensive!) than using a bucket


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