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Water Efficiency Project Report
Radian and the Environment Agency are working in partnership to research how best to tackle water efficiency in both new-build and existing homes. The Water Efficiency Project, commissioned as a result of the dwindling water resources in the South East of England, is running from March 2008-2010.
The region has low rainfall, a high population density and individuals consuming high volumes of water. South Hampshire also has 80,000 new homes proposed over 2006-2026, which will clearly put further pressure on water resources.
With a housing stock of over 15,500 homes throughout the South East of England, Radian is aware that there are water supply problems facing the area. The further development planned to help meet the increasing demand for housing indicates that Radian’s impact on regional resources is immense.
Therefore, in line with their environmental agenda launched last year, Eco-Action 2008-12: A strategy for low eco footprint living, Radian is keen, and has a responsibility, to research methods of conserving water and identify how best to reduce demand both in new-builds and in the existing housing stock.
To accommodate the proposed growth in the sub-region, there needs to be sustainable demand management of water in the area, with the aim of water neutrality.
The Water Efficiency Project is focussing on retrofitting existing homes for water efficiency and building new homes to Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH). The report contains recommendations on water conservation based on the first year’s findings. The complete report will be published next year.
Research undertaken in Year 1 included the monitoring of water consumption levels in new-build homes with differing CfSH levels and ecological and water efficient devices fitted. Surveys detailing household water use behaviour were also collected from these homes.
Data collection meters were installed in existing homes to monitor water consumption levels; some homes were retrofitted with eco-BETA dual flush toilet devices, whilst others used cistern disbursement devices (CDD) such as save-a-flush bags. Surveys detailing household behaviour were collected.
The new-build homes built to Ecohomes standard produced an average water consumption of 143 litres per person per day. Startlingly, there was a range of water consumption between 45 and 613 litres per person per day.
The new-build homes built to CfSH Level 3 produced an average water consumption of 58 litres per person per day for those homes with rainwater harvesting installed and an average of 86 litres per person per day for those without. This is significantly lower than the national average consumption of 150 litres per person per day and the South East average consumption of 160 litres per person per day. The results also far exceed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) target of 130 litres per day and the CfSH Level 3 target of 105 litres per person per day.
Building homes to the CfSH Level 3 can save residents up to £90 a year on their water bill.
Implementing water saving technology into new-build homes to CfSH Level 3, costs about £300 per unit without installing rainwater harvesting. To install to Level 3, with rainwater harvesting, costs approximately £4,000 per unit. Both methods manage to achieve consumption levels below the Level 3 target by 47 and 19 litres with and without rainwater harvesting respectively. However, the decision to install rainwater harvesting systems must be accounted for at the start of a project to allow enough space for internal pumps and a back-up gravity fed system, as well as considering the resources and rainfall.
Retrofitting the eco-BETA device in existing homes reduced water consumption by 21%, or an average of 29 litres per person per day. This also achieves Defra’s target of 130 litres by reducing the average of 137 litres per person per day to 108 litres per person per day.
At the moment only water companies can purchase eco-BETAs and each ordinarily costs around £10 although this depends on how many devices are ordered. A skilled labourer can fit the device within 15 minutes.
It is estimated that residents on a meter and with an eco-beta installed will save £216 a year.
Significant water savings are made when new homes are built to Code for Sustainable Homes Levels 3 and 4 such as Radian’s homes in Liss and Alton. Significant savings can also be made in the existing housing stock if existing homes were retro-fitted with eco-BETA dual flush toilet devices.
It is important to note that increased water efficiency is required in the existing housing stock to facilitate growth and enable water neutrality to be achieved. Raising awareness on the importance of water conservation, alongside fitting water efficient devices, is required as the way water is used also contributes to further reducing water consumption.
“Water is society's most basic need but supplies are becoming uncertain in the south-east. We have to learn how to achieve a decent standard of living while reducing the amount of water we all use in the home. This project is therefore crucial in teaching us successful and acceptable methods of saving water which will also use less energy and will reduce our carbon footprint” Rod Murchie, Environment Agency
Ms Elliott from Horndean who is participating in the project and had an eco-BETA dual-flush device fitted in her toilet, explained “I like the device because it uses less water, so saves the environment as well as saving me money.” Stephanie Beggs, Water Conservation Projects Coordinator, Radian: "Water supplies are going down but we are using more and more water. Simple measures can help to reduce water use, without changing our lifestyles.”
Five easy ways to save water:
1. Install a cistern displacement device (CDD) such as a ‘Save a flush’ bag - these are available for free from most water companies
2. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
3. Always run washing machines and dishwashers with a full load and on the economy setting
4. Fix dripping taps
5. Use a bowl of water to wash fruit and vegetables