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Vast majority of Brits have no idea how much water they are using

Water UK urges public to add ‘saving water’ to New Year’s resolutions, as vast majority of Brits have no idea how much water they are using

  • New research shows that 94% of people underestimate the amount of water they use per day 
  • Over a fifth (21%) believe their household uses less than 20 litres per day when the average usage per person is 152 litres per day 
  • Under a third (30%) think it is important to save water during winter, compared with almost 80% during the summer 

Industry body Water UK is urging the public to turn over a new leaf this year and become more ‘water savvy’, as new research reveals the public have no idea how much water they use. 

The research found that 94% of the public underestimate how much water they use per day. When asked, 67% thought their household uses less than 69 litres of water per day – the equivalent of a 5-minute shower. Over a fifth (21%) believed their household uses 19 litres or less, which is only enough to flush the toilet twice.  

In reality, each individual person in the UK uses an average of 152 litres of water per day, and the demand for water has been increasing since the pandemic as people spend more time at home.  

Public perception of how much water is wasted through leaks in the home was also found to be off the mark. Over half (61%) thought that a faulty toilet flush wastes less than 50 litres, when it actually wastes between 215 and 400 litres per day! This can cost households hundreds of pounds per year if left unfixed. 

The research also shows that less than a third (30%) of people recognise the importance of saving water during the winter, compared to 79% of people who said it was important during summer. That’s why Water UK is helping the public to be savvy about their water use this winter, running its national summer Water’s Worth Saving campaign throughout the winter months for the first time. 

Despite the weather getting colder and wetter during the winter, the record-breaking dry and warm weather last summer left reservoir stocks in England at their lowest levels on record.  While recent rainy weather has helped to alleviate the damage, some parts of the country remain at risk of severe drought again this summer. 

Using water carefully at home now will not only make water use restrictions less likely this summer, but it will give the environment time to recover. You’ll also reduce your carbon footprint and save money on bills.  

Small changes such as taking a shorter shower or turning the tap off while brushing your teeth can make a huge difference – taking a 4 minute shower could save around 50 litres of hot water, and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth could save up to 24 litres each day.  

The water industry recognises it has a part to play. The most recent Ofwat figures released last year show leakage has fallen each and every year since 2018-19 and is now at the lowest level ever recorded. Companies also have ambitious plans using new technology and innovation to halve leakage by 2050. 

Peter Jenkins, Director of Campaigns at Water UK, said:  

“With last summer’s heatwave now a distant memory, it’s more important than ever to show the public the value of saving water this winter for the sunnier days ahead – if we don’t act now to reduce our water usage, we could be paying for it later in the year. 

“Everyone has a part to play in reducing our water consumption, and our survey results show that people have no idea just how much water they are actually using. That’s why we’re running our Water’s Worth Saving campaign this winter, providing the public with advice and simple tips to help save water and safeguard the environment all year round.” 


Notes to editors: 

  • Savanta surveyed 2,238 UK adults online between 28th-30th October. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of all UK adults by age, gender region and social grade.  
  • More information on the campaign and helpful tips to save water are available here 
  • Other helpful tips to save water include: 
  • Fit a low flow shower head: Aerated showerheads reduce the flow but don’t compromise on pressure, using approximately 6 litres of water per minute 
  • Fixing leaks in your home: Reduce your water waste by fixing leaks – a leaky loo wastes between 215 and 400 litres of water per day  
  • Use a water butt: Rainwater is great for your garden. The average roof collects 85,000 litres of rain a year, enough to fill a water butt 450 times 
  • Use a watering can instead of a hose: A hose can use enough water to fill twelve baths every hour, so use a watering can when you can