Baths, showers, geysers, taps and washing machines

Baths and showers

In terms of the City’s new Water By-law the maximum flow rate from any showerhead may not exceed 10 litres per minute (Water By-law Schedule 2, Water Demand Management).

An average bath holds between 150 and 200 litres of water. The average shower uses about 22 litres of water each minute. ’Low-flow’ showerheads are available that deliver less than half this amount per minute.

Under pressure, low-flow showerheads restrict the amount of water that flows out of a showerhead. Water travels through an opening of about 5 mm and is forced into a small turbulence chamber where it is broken up into millions of tiny droplets. This saves up to 50% of water – and also reduces water heating electricity consumption.

Various low-flow showerhead models and brands are available on the market, saving between 30 and 50% of shower water use. Note: 600 kPa geyser pressure is generally needed for these showerheads to work. Low-flow showerheads can cost between R70,00 and R350,00.


Where to find a low-flow shower head

When showering however, it must be bourne in mind that if you still shower for ten minutes, then you are not saving water. Remember that the lower the flow and the shorter the shower, the more water will be saved.


As with toilet cisterns, geysers also have an overflow pipe to prevent flooding. It is normal for water to drip from the overflow (or drain) pipe that is connected to an expansion relief valve. When heated water expands, a small amount is released through this valve.

The drip should, however, stop when the temperature of the heated water stabilises. This normal drip could continue for an hour or more. Up to two litres of water can flow out of this overflow pipe each day. This can be collected and reused on your garden plants!

If there is a continuous drip or flow from the overflow pipe or the expansion relief valve and the amount of water collected from here is more than two litres a day, there is a leak.

Owing to the complexity and possible difficulty of fixing leaking geysers, it is best that you call a qualifed plumber to fix the problem.


Tap aerators can be fitted onto bathroom and kitchen taps, reducing normal tap flow from around 20 or 30 litres per minute, much of which is wasted, to a more sensible 6 to 10 litres. These low-flow devices basically work by channelling water through a small screen that is screwed onto tap openings. Water is restricted through a 5 mm opening and air bubbles are added for a pleasant, splash-free, bubbly stream of water. Water-flow from your tap can be reduced by 50% to 75%, while the water pressure remains the same.

Tap aerators should screw on easily. However, not all taps can be fitted with aerators as they may not be threaded. The dual thread fits both male and female standard threaded taps. Although most taps today have a standard thread, older taps may require thread adapters for easy attachment of water-saving products.

These are available. Check what water pressure (kPa) is needed for the products to
work effectively. In terms of the City’s new Water By-law the maximum flow rate from any tap installed in a wash hand basin may not exceed six litres per minute (Water By-law Schedule 2, Water Demand Management).

A tap aerator’s approximate cost is R35,00.

Fixing a leaking tap in seven EASY STEPS!

A dripping tap usually means that your washer needs replacing. To do this:

  1. Close the stopcock (the main water supply to your home) and then open the tap fully.
  2. Unscrew the cover. When unscrewing the tap, wrap a cloth around it to prevent it from being scratched.
  3. Unscrew the spindle.
  4. Unscrew the washer-retaining nut and remove the washer.
  5. Fit a new washer and replace the nut. Make sure that you have the correct washer size for the tap.
  6. Reinstall the spindle and screw down the cover.
  7. Close the tap, open the water supply slowly and check for leaks again. Do not overtighten the tap as the new washer is softer and will be damaged.

Dishwashers and washing machines

Making smart choices when buying a new household item can have a large impact on your water (and energy) use. Look for water and energy-efficient products.
Dishwashers use on average 40 to 75 litres of water per wash, but very efficient machines can use as little as 13 litres. These will also use less electricity as there is less water to heat. Machines with rapid (for lightly soiled dishes) or half-load washes will reduce water consumption by 37% and energy use by 29%.

Washing machines on average use 150 litres per wash. High-efficiency washing machines use about 30% less water and 40% to 50% less electricity. Look for machines that consume between 37 to 45 litres of water per wash. Again, less hot water means less electricity is used.

Note, however, that high water efifcient machines will need a higher concentration of detergent and unless alternative soaps are used, this is not good for grey water system use.

General tips

  • Front loaders are generally more efficient than top loaders (water- and power-wise).
  • Any wash cycle using a temperature setting of over 60 degrees is wasting enormous amounts of electricity.
  • A quick/rapid wash and half-load options both help to save water when doing lighter loads.
  • Always run washing machines and dishwashers with a full load.

Get practical

Cozy, low-energy shower
Simple low-flow shower conversion
How to save water by showering navy style
Have a shower - water garden

Other water topics

Case study: Mrs Zenzele tackles a leaking tap
Save water - fix your own dripping taps
Toilets - save water
Gardens, pools, rainwater tanks and grey water

Go green home