Energy Diet

Changing the Way We See Tap Water

In Slovenia, as in most parts of Europe, we don’t have problems with potable water, so we usually didn’t pay a lot of attention to its use. But every year we are more and more aware that we don’t live alone on this planet, and somebody else’s problems are problems of us all.

There are whole regions with water problems, and even more, whole countries struggle for clean and drinkable water. And because of water pollution, this problem grows from year to year. It is worrying that most water is used in the so-called developed world. That’s why we should start with the knowledge of these problems with our youngsters already.

In Slovenia, our children are learning about water problems already at school. They also have special projects with the topic of how to face the consequences if we won’t start reducing water use and also water pollution.

In our family we are well aware of the issue and I, with my husband, try to show our children a good example how we should treat water. With this kind of example we already take care of water use as well as we prepare next generation to do it the same and pass it to their next generation.

During everyday use of water we regularly turn off the tap when we brush our teeth. For brushing teeth we use glasses in which we pour water instead of leaving it running. We also don’t bathe, but rather shower instead – after all, when people bathe, they often end up showering at the end anyway. Different surveys show us that with bathing, the water use is much higher than with showering.

When showering, we’re also shortened showering time as possible, and while we put soap on the body we turn off the water. We gained experience with this when we traveled around Europe – at campgrounds, you usually have a limited time to use the shower and you’re usually paying for the time. So this made us think about how it’s important to think about how we use water in the shower at home, too.

We still didn’t decide to replace the shower head with the low-flow model, but we are sure that without buying new things, it’s possible to achieve the same effect with deliberate action as stated above. When we use less hot water, we also use less energy for heating this water.

We do not scrub dishes because we have a dishwasher. In December 2010 we just bought a new one (the old one was 12 years old and it was malfunctioning) with extra low energy and water consumption. Its electricity consumption is 0.93 kilowatt hours and water consumption is 8 liters (2.1 gallons) per 12 place settings with the eco-program.

Another machine that consumes water is the washing machine. We have had it for two years, and we selected it the same way as the dishwasher. Its energy consumption is 1,02 kilowatt hours and water consumption 45 liters (12 gallons) per 6 kilograms (13 pounds) laundry (one washing machine). We take care that both, dishwasher and washing machine are full (not half full) when we use them.

In most parts of Slovenia, water from the tap is very good and tasty, so we do not need to buy bottled water. Nevertheless, quite a lot of people in our country buy bottled water. Strong advertisement for bottled water is one reason for this and the next one is that people don’t believe that the tapped water is clean enough. Nowadays, the thinking is that you’re healthier if you drink bottled water. According to some national research about the drinking water in Slovenia, this is not so. People are just not informed enough; otherwise we’re sure they wouldn’t buy water with the kind of water utility system we have. A few years ago, we too,were buying bottled water until we found out how unnecessary this is.

Because we don’t have a garden, we don’t use water for that purpose. We do not have an interest in gardening, because both my husband and I grew up in the city where we still live and are not very fond of working in the garden. Around the house, we have small lawn which we water with rain water and sometimes tapped water, but only during really hot days in summer time. Slovenia has enough rainy days during whole year.

We are very lucky that my husband’s mother and father like gardening, and they have a little field in the vicinity of our house. They water it with water from nearby stream. It’s real pleasure and luxury to get their bio-produced vegetables on our table as we can compensate them otherwise. With this issue we’re really spoiled and we do not need to take care of the consumption of vegetable and fruits as far as we have them a lot at home. I myself have some indoor plants that I water with rainwater during summer, spring and autumn. During winter, I have to use tapped water because of the low temperatures outside, which doesn’t allow us to collect rain water from the roof of our house.

I believe we are very aware of water use already and we take care of it on different ways. And I also believe that with this kind of transfer of knowledge and behavior on our children we will markedly influence on the future generation as well as on other (especially young) people around us.


  1. Christina
    February 7, 2011, 6:21 pm

    I agree that bottled water is totally unnecessary. I was falling back on it way too much before this diet. I’m curious, how do you collect the rainwater for your indoor plants? Have you found that you get enough rain in non-winter months to make it work?

  2. Mateja
    February 8, 2011, 1:39 pm

    We have a tent in the garden with which we are protected from the sun during summer month and when it rains, all water is collected and this water we use for indoor plants. Usually we have it enough also during very hot summer months.

  3. Christina
    February 8, 2011, 2:10 pm

    I see — that’s great.

  4. Tom Sahagian
    February 8, 2011, 9:13 pm

    Nice post — just a few followup comments:

    Most people don’t realize that washing dishes by hand uses much more water and energy than with using a dishwasher, as long as you do full loads in the machine.

    And Europe as a whole is way ahead of the US in the use of front-loading washing machines, which are more water-and energy-efficient, and have the added advantage of using much less detergent.

    Not mentioned in the post, perhaps for reasons of delicacy, is the issue of toilets. They are one of the largest water users in the house, and thus a prime target for creative ways of using less water — but I’ll leave that to your imagination.

  5. clipton
    February 9, 2011, 12:01 pm

    Following up on toilets as a large water consumer, here is an innovative idea:

  6. Mateja
    February 9, 2011, 3:04 pm

    thx for the link of an innovativ idea, but I’m not able to see it because (as it is written by Youtube) it was blocked in my country due to authors rights 🙁

  7. Mateja
    February 10, 2011, 10:01 am

    @Tom Sahagian
    Just a small remark on the topic of toilet water. We already have a toilet water in two stages – one for smaller and the other one for bigger amount of water. I’ll send photo of the system to Christina because between comments there is no place for photos. I won’t explain it furthermore 😉 You can use your imagination 🙂