Fit your bathroom with water-saving sanitaryware

Fit your bathroom with water-saving sanitaryware

Our summers are getting hotter and the Environment Agency is warning that in 25 years' time there may not be enough water for our population. So we must take heed and learn to treat water like the precious resource it is. And that means re-thinking our bathrooms

Text: Sophie Barritt
Hansgrohe products have EcoSmart technology to cut water use by some 60 per cent

The time has come to embrace the water-saving shower. The boss of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, says global warming is reducing the amount of water for the country and we must all take responsibility for cutting our daily water consumption from 140 to 100 litres. We use most water in the bathroom so that does mean saying goodbye to the 70 gallon bath and being assiduous about showering in under six minutes. Pictured above: Hansgrohe Raindance and Metropol showers with its EcoSmart technology, which means products use around 60 per cent less water than conventional bathroom equipmen

We like to refurbish bathrooms when we move house, or if we have stayed put for 10 years or so, we often treat ourselves to a new bathroom. The bathroom uses the most water of any room and the trend over recent years has been for products that do anything other than treat it as a scarce commodity: think of waterfall shower heads and power showers, not to mention huge bathtubs and cascading taps.

Well, the days of standing under our own personal Victoria Falls are numbered, and while 'austerity bathroom' shouldn't be our re-design keywords, 'to conserve'  is a good verb to keep in mind when thinking about showers, baths, loos and taps. Government legislation, particularly changes to building regulations (Part G if you want to some gripping bedtime reading), has resulted in manufacturers investing heavily in developing greener products - and they just need the public to start buying them. 

'I have to say, we're rarely asked to supply items that offer consumer clients savings either in water or energy terms,' says Juliet Harris of Ripples bathroom company, yet she notes that bathroom products are out there to help people achieve the government's stated water strategy of reducing our daily water consumption by 40L. That could be because we don't know what products are on the market, or we just don't care enough...but as the old adage goes, don't care was made to care.

The wallhung Omnia Architectura from Villeroy + Boch has a dual flush of just 3 litres or 4.5 litres. £2,646
The Omnia loo is rimless and so easier to clean
A cut-away to see the flush in action
Verso Comfort 70 wall-hung 4.5 litre loo. £650, seat £85. Available from Ripples

EcoSmart from Hansgrohe

A brand to look to if you're changing bathroom equipment is Hansgrohe because its products come with its EcoSmart technology, which uses a flow limiter and an aerator integrated into its shower heads and taps. This means air is added to the water to so it feels like a full bubbling jet of water, yet around 60 per cent less water is being used than with conventional products. In some Hansgrohe overhead and handheld showers is reduced to 9L/min or 6L/min. And while approx 13L flows through most mixer taps, EcoSmart taps have a flow of just 5L/min - yet the user, we're assured, won't notice the difference. 

Whether you're buying luxury, mid-price or low-price bathroom products, the brand you like will have water-saving products such as taps with cartridges that reduce the flow, or shower aerators. These too work by bulking-up a reduced flow of water so the power-shower sensation isn't lost. Villeroy + BochDuravit, The Grand Tour Collection at the high end have relevant products, while in the mid-range sector, check out Ideal Standard. CP Hart bathroom company also has a good choice of water-saving products, such as the sleek Goccia taps.

Loos - limit your flush

There are plenty of loos with minimal flushes - it now seems extraordinary that loos of old had flush away volumes of 11 or even 13 litres. Lavatories today should have a max six-litre flush, with a short flush of four litres, but the Green Building Store in Yorkshire, which specialises in water-saving products, has the Swedish Ifo loo that has a 2/4 litre flush. The Green Building Store is a mine of information and products and it's well worth talking to their very knowledgeable and helpful staff.

Contemporary wall-hung Veya pan and bidet from Jacuzzi. WC around £450
Hansgrohe's Air range in the Raindance shower collection from Ripples. £1,113.6
Concept bath from Ideal Standard fills with just 116 litres of water. £573.44
Hansgrohe Crometta 85 shower head from Ripples, flow rate of 6L per min at 3 bar. £24.50
The traditional Jubilaeum WC from The Grand Tour Collection flushes with just 2.7 litres of water. From £289
Ideal Standard's Ceramix single lever basin mixer offers reduced water flow. From £136.44
Elegant Goccia water-saving tap, available from CP Hart. £576. Washbasin costs £849

And of course, we may not think that reducing water consumption in our homes is a top priority right now. However, the day may very well come when water meters are mandatory, and that should focus the mind sharply. Many water companies are starting to fit meters to customers' properties  - and we do all have the right to request a meter, which should be installed free of charge. Research from Ofwat suggests that people with meters do use around 10 per cent less water a day than those without. 

Sir James Bevan of the Environment Agency does, of course, say that the water companies must repair their leakages, which result in millions of gallons of water being wasted each day, while government needs to fund larger reservoirs; and desalination plants may well become familiar sights at ports in decades to come. But the power not to waste water lies in no small part in the hands of the consumer and we should all do our bit to conserve supplies. Here are his top tips:

Get a water-saving toilet 

Take short showers (water saving) and NOT deep baths
Turn the tap off while you're brushing your teeth
Don't water your lawn
Make sure your washing machine and dishwasher are full before you use them
Choose the most water-efficient washing machine and dishwasher
Collect rainwater in a water butt for the garden
And there is one group of people who will be feeling vindicated: teenage boys who give the shower a wide berth and rarely flush their wee. 'I just wash my armpits with a soapy flannel in the morning' says Harry Dougal, 17, from north London. 'I'm saving water. I'm saving the planet.' 
ES4 wall hung loo with siphon flush from the Green Building Store. £372.48
Ifo Sign Universal close-coupled WC from the Green Building Store. 4/2 L flush.£287