It’s easy for us in Singapore to take water for granted. The overwhelming majority of Singapore households have access to clean running water for cooking, washing and bathing. It’s not the case for many neighbouring countries. And like all precious resources, water should be consumed responsibly.
In October 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced Singapore is lowering its daily target of average household water consumption to 130 litres by 2030. That’s 10 litres lower than the previous target. Citing a global study of 167 countries, he said Singapore topped the list of countries most likely to be “water-stressed” by 2040. Water security and water conservation efforts are thus likely to become even greater focus areas for Singapore in years to come.
On a more practical level, careful water use at home also means lower utility bills. Let’s take a look at how much water we consume daily and what we can do to reduce water waste at home so it becomes a way of life.
How much water does the average Singaporean household consume?
As of 2017, the average Singaporean household consumes 143 litres of water per day, a marked improvement from 165 litres per day in 2003.
Where does all this water go? According to national water agency PUB, the daily activities that take up the most water are:
- Showering (27%)
- Flushing (18%)
- Kitchen use (16%)
- Laundry (15%)
- Bathroom tap (12%)
- Basin (6%)
In fact, a study done by PUB and NUS shows that the average shower consumes as much as 20 litres of water.
The PUB is helping new households conserve water through the Smart Shower Programme, where smart showers will be installed at 10,000 build-to-order flats by the end of 2019. Smart showers have a panel that show you how much water you’re using in real time, and come with an app that lets you set water conservation goals.
A trial at 500 households revealed that these smart showers save up to 5 litres per person per day, which resulted in a 3% drop in monthly water use.
The PUB also replaced inefficient 9-litre water closets with more efficient toilets at 1,100 HDB households. The new toilets allowed households to save up to 5 litres every time they flush, which resulted in a 10% reduction in their monthly water bills.
But you don’t need a new shower or toilet to reduce water waste. Here are some easy ways to save water today.
Practical ways to save water at home
1. Request free water saving kit from PUB
No budget for new water efficient taps and showerheads? You can save as much as 5% from your monthly water bill with PUB’s free water saving kit.
The water saving kit comes with 4 thimbles for taps and 2 thimbles for shower heads. Each thimble has 3 and 4 holes, which helps regulate your tap and showerhead’s flow rates and cuts down on water waste.
Request for a free water saving kit by writing to PUB_One@pub.gov.sg with the following details:
- Residential Address
- Mobile number
- Number of water saving kits
- Reason for request
2. Check for leaks
A leaking faucet can waste up to 10,000 litres per year. That’s 810 litres a month! Prevent leaky taps by turning them off tightly and replacing them the moment they start leaking.
Meanwhile, a leaky toilet can consume as much as 757 litres of water per day. Check for toilet leaks by putting a few drops of food colouring into the toilet tank. If the food colour appears in the bowl without flushing, your toilet is leaking.
3. Time your showers
If the average 10-minute shower consumes 20 litres of water, taking 5-minute showers could reduce water consumption by half. Set a timer to 5 minutes to help you take shorter showers. Switch off the running shower when you’re soaping and shampooing to further conserve water.
Does it also take a minute or two for the hot water to reach the shower? Collect the cold water in a pail and use it to water plants, wash the dishes, or mop the floor.
4. Don’t leave tap running
In many cases, saving water comes down to keeping the tap firmly closed when not in use. It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how often we leave the water running when we brush our teeth or while washing dishes. Pay attention when you switch on the tap, and be mindful of shutting it off when the water isn’t used.
5. Buy water efficient appliances
In the market for a washing machine, showerhead, or dishwasher? Make sure to check the Mandatory WELS rating before you buy. WELS is a grading system of 0 – 4 ticks that reflect how water efficient a product is. The more ticks, the more water efficient it is.
Below is a table with a list of products that have mandatory WELS ratings, and how much water they consume. Use this to make an informed decision before buying any appliances.
6. Choose front loading washing machine
Between a front-load washing machine and a top-load washing machine, choose the former. While a front-load washing machine will cost several hundreds more, they consume far less water than a top-load washing machine. In fact, a test done by CNET showed that top-load washing machines consumed 67 litres of water, compared to 32 litres of water by a front-load machine.
You’ll also want to get a washing machine with a 3-tick or 4-tick WELS rating. These will consume 9 litres or less per kilogram of laundry.
7. Get ‘dual flush’ toilet and save with ever flush
If your toilets need replacing, make sure to get one with a dual flush option of “full flush” and “half flush”. This allows you to use less water for liquid waste, and more for solid waste. You can even take it one step further by choosing a low-capacity model. This only uses 4.5 litres for a full flush.
Another practical way is to sync your toilet routine, for example just before you and your spouse head to bed at night. That way you can save with a single flush instead of flushing separately.
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By Lauren Dado
Lauren has been a content strategist and digital marketer since 2007. As SingSaver.com.sg’s Content Manager, Lauren edits and publishes personal finance stories to help Singaporeans save money. Her work has appeared in publications like Her World, Asia One, and Women’s Weekly.