Water is a valuable commodity and resources are often limited. Water abstraction can have an adverse impact on wildlife and the environment. Whether a supply is metered or not it is in everyone’s interest that no more is used than necessary. There are many steps that can be taken to minimise water use and the size of water bills. The independent and not for profit organisation Waterwise provides much useful advice and links to other sites concerned with water efficiency and decreasing water consumption. . Some of its advice is summarised below.

Water metering
Arguably the fairest way to pay for water is to each pay for what we each actually use. Most homes in England and Wales (but not in Scotland) can have a meter installed free of charge, except when it is unreasonably expensive or impractical for the water company to install a meter. In these circumstances the customer would need to pay for the installation of the water meter (although the meter itself would be free). Compulsory metering can also occur in areas designated by the Secretary of State as 'water scarce', in which case the water company can if it is necessary, install meters in all households.

However widespread water metering could shift the cost burden toward the poorest families and some form of social tariff will be needed. Fairness on Tap is a coalition of organisations calling for a fair deal for water - for customers and the environment. It advocates a strategy to install water meters in at least the 80% of England where there is greatest pressure on the freshwater environment and people's pockets by 2020, supported by fair tariffs to make water bills affordable for everyone and help to reduce water waste and protect the freshwater environment.

Toilet flushing
Modern dual flush toilets can save up to 5000 litres per year compared with older toilets. Many single flush toilets work equally well when fitted with a water displacing device such as a Hippo or Save a Flush bag which are available free from most water companies.

Showers can account for around 12% of a households water use. Limiting showering to 4 minutes with the help of a shower timer can save a lot of water as can replacing power shower heads with low flow or aerated heads.

Washing up
A properly used efficient modern dishwasher actually uses significantly less water than washing by hand. Using a washing up bowl uses much less water than a running tap.

Clothes washing
Clothes washing can account for 15% of a households water use. A modern water efficient washing machine can use less than one third of the water used by an old machine. It is important only to wash full loads.

Drinking water
It is important to drink sufficient water but there are still economies to be made. A jug of water in the fridge avoids wasting water while running it until cold. Only boiling sufficient water in the kettle for immediate needs saves water and energy.

Tap water should only be used on the garden as a last resort. Plants should only be watered in the evening or early morning to minimise loss through evaporation. Using a hose or garden sprinkler is extremely wasteful.