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Coronavirus: How to keep water and energy bills down

Tuesday 31st March 2020 12:00

A woman and two children washing up in the kitchen

Thames Water is reminding its customers how to save water and energy to keep household bills down if they’re spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Activities such as hand-washing, cleaning, using the toilet at home instead of work or school and having more time for longer showers could all see a household’s water consumption and energy use increase.

The prospect of more dry and warm weather in the coming weeks also means more people are likely to spend time in their gardens, potentially leading to even more water use as seeds are sown and new plants bedded in.

Andrew Tucker, water efficiency manager at Thames Water, said: “Naturally those who have been asked to stay at home are likely to flush the loo, boil the kettle and use other appliances more than normal. Also, people are clearly following advice to wash their hands more regularly and this is excellent to hear, but for some they may be worrying about the cost of the extra water or increased energy bills from using more hot water. Our advice is to keep on washing your hands but, if you can, turn off the tap once you’ve initially got them wet and turn it on again to rinse them.

“There’s lots of simple ways to save water in the home and garden to help reduce usage and offset the extra you may be using for handwashing if you’re concerned.”

Thames Water has an online water calculator all customers can access for free to see how much they use and where they can make savings both during the current pandemic but also once life returns to normal. For example, simply spending one minute less in the shower can save an average of 10 litres each time and installing a water butt means you can capture and use any rain that falls to water plants.

Andrew added: “We also want to reassure customers who struggle with their bills that even under normal circumstances we have special tariffs to support them and options to spread payments, so if people feel they need help please get in touch.”

  • Only put the amount of water in the kettle that you need. Boiling up extra water uses more energy
  • Try and keep showers to a maximum of four minutes. On average, a shower uses 10 litres (that’s 17-18 pints) of water a minute. If a family of four reduced their shower time by just one minute, they could save £32 on metered water bills, up to £29 on energy bills (large proportion of energy use at home is for heating water) and as much as 14,560 litres of water a year.
  • Fix leaks and drips. A single leaky loo can waste up to 400 litres of water a day – the equivalent of five full bathtubs – costing up to £300 a year for metered customers.
  • Where possible don’t leave the tap running while washing your hands. NHS advice is to wet your hands at the start of the process and then rinse them at the end. In most cases the tap doesn’t need to be left running while applying soap and rubbing it in, which is the same when brushing your teeth.
  • People using time at home to get gardens ready for spring and summer should think about installing a water butt - up to 85,000 litres of rain falls on a household roof each year so capture it and use it to water your plants and wash the car.

Check Thames Water’s online water saving calculator.

For more information on support with paying bills please visit our financial support page.

People will continue to see Thames Water engineers in the community during the coronavirus outbreak after the government classed water company staff as key workers. It means Thames Water staff, who cannot fulfil their roles from home, will be out working in roads, at water and sewage treatment sites and in the company’s control and customer centre offices, in line with official health advice, maintaining essential water and wastewater services. Non-essential work, such as meter readings, have been reduced.