A growing population, more homes, less water?

April 25, 2023

In this guest post Alice Hill, Water Efficiency Project Coordinator at Thames Water discusses how housing providers can increase water efficiency of their housing stock.

We know that our population is growing, and as it does, we need more homes and water to supply the residents of those homes.

Water companies are responsible for making sure there is enough water for everyone now, and into the future. We know that in the near future, if we do nothing, there will not be enough water to meet demand in the South East; in fact we estimate that there will be a shortfall of 414 million litres of water each day by 2040 in London alone (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Forecast gap between supply and demand in London

The amount of water available to abstract is decreasing due to the impacts of climate change and changing environmental regulations. We plan to meet this shortfall by using water more efficiency, metering, reducing leakage and by using new resources.

The housing sector is a huge player in this increase in demand, both by building new homes and the efficiency of existing homes. However, there is a lot that housing providers can do to reduce their impact and still provide a great service to their residents and reduce fuel poverty at the same time.

What can you do about it?

  • Make sure fittings and fixtures are water efficient in specifications
  • Fix leaks promptly
  • Actively promote water saving to all residents
  • Install rainwater and greywater reuse systems in new developments

Water companies want to work in partnership with the housing sector to ensure both new and existing housing stock are water efficient.  For new developments, we recommend using the fittings performance levels in the Government’s Housing Standards. For existing homes, many water companies can provide free or subsidised water efficient devices to housing providers and some are trialling discounts for those who build water efficient developments.

Benefits for you

The benefits to the housing sector of increasing water efficiency include financial savings for residents, increased resilience to climate change and reduced carbon footprint. Incorporating water efficiency into energy efficiency or other home visit programmes also makes the offer more attractive to residents.

Benefits for your residents

Water is usually the third largest bill for residents following council tax and energy. Saving water saves residents money on their energy bill, from heating less water, and their water bill for the 50% of homes that have a water meter. The average savings from simple water efficiency interventions are around £180 per family of four and fixing a leaking toilet saves on average £300.

Learning from Thames Water’s large scale smart metering roll out, we now know that 5% of homes have a leaking toilet that lose on average 400 litres of water each day and a further 5% have a leak of their supply pipe which could add even more to residents bills.

Learn more

SaveWater South East are running a free water efficiency event for housing providers on 23 May where they will share best practice, launch a toolkit on water efficiency and gain insight into options for, and barriers to, delivery. The six water companies which supply the South East will all be present and available for questions. The day will also involve a tour of the WWF’s multi award winning Living Centre Building which is in the forefront of sustainable design and construction.

Stay ahead on how water efficiency issues can impact your area. Sign up for the event here.

Guest Author

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This is very good, should be rolled out all over the UK


How come the water Cos, are be hind the domestic energy curve in the water supply services?