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1:58 PM 22nd March 2024
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World Water Day – Lowering Water Bills In Schools: Dive Into Our Ocean Of Great Ideas

 
This World Water Day (22 March), the UK climate advice programme for schools, Let’s Go Zero, has put together some key pointers for schools to follow to reduce water usage and protect schools from too much or it or too little.

When it comes to protecting the planet and school finances, you can make a big splash by tackling water waste. The problem costs schools an average of £2,500 a year – while the energy used to pump, heat and treat wasted water also pushes up their carbon emissions. And with heatwaves a growing threat across the UK, it’s even more important we look after this precious resource.

Here’s another reason to spring into action – this topic is perfect for inspiring students. Once they’ve soaked up all the wonderful things about water - from its life-giving properties to its role as a source of clean energy - show them how they can make a difference in reducing water waste.

Read on to discover straightforward, affordable and inclusive ways for schools to take action. Many of these technologies and habits can also lead to change in your students’ homes – particularly once parents hear they are an effective way to lower their bills. Your water saving projects could create a tidal wave of change in your community.

Measure the problem and tap in to quick savings

Start making savings by analysing how much water certain activities use, by using smart water monitoring tools. Data from these will show the amount of water used for different activities. They can even identify leaks that would otherwise stay hidden, including big ones that could be catastrophic for your buildings.

The data from the tools can be used to educate students and show where their climate action is making an impact. Smart water metres are a powerful solution – if we fitted a million a year across the UK for the next 15 years, we could cut the country’s carbon emissions by 0.5%.

One area to target is water wasted from taps. Did you know running a tap for one minute uses three litres of water? Switching to eco push-taps could cut your school’s water consumption by 60%. These self-stopping taps, that only emit water for a short period of time, will also reduce the risk of floods and energy loss.

Proven solutions: how are UK schools taking action?

Hippos in the toilets


Students at Down High School in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, are taking numerous actions to cut down on water in the classroom 
Photo: Down High School
Students at Down High School in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, are taking numerous actions to cut down on water in the classroom Photo: Down High School
As a school that promotes environmental awareness and action, Down High School in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland has used in-school campaigns to cut water usage. ‘Save H20 and Stop the Flow’ was run to reduce water bills. This featured a video to inspire staff and students, and a supply of Hippo Bags – a handy water saving device that displaces water in the toilet cistern so that each flush uses less water – for all its toilets.

The school also carried out a dripping tap audit. On the back of this management, they discovered that they had been overcharged on water bills by £10,000.


Sustainability is a key part of life in our school. We try to ensure that all facets of our school community are as sustainable as possible. We need to set a good example which the pupils can then take home to family and further within the local community.
Rachel Wilson, Eco Co-ordinator and Biology Teacher


Down High school also ran a fundraising toilet twinning competition to support the building of school toilets in Uganda. Through collaboration, they have successfully raised awareness of sustainable water usage, and continue to strengthen ties with schools around the globe.

Go with the low-flow-taps

Students at Smith’s Wood Primary Academy in Solihull take part in monitoring water usage to reduce dangers of leaks and flooding. As well as practicing their data analysis skills, the school have installed slow flow taps and toilets to reduce water supply. This will protect water usage and ensure not one drop is wasted.

Andy Mills, a teacher at the school explained: “any school that doesn’t have [slow flow taps] would be an instant problem as kids often forget to switch them off”.

Spotting hidden leaks saves college more than £20,000

Water monitoring devices at Okehampton College in Devon are analysing data to identify water losses and act upon the requests driven by the monitoring services. The devices analysed two years’ of data to understand historical water consumption patterns and track hot and cold water use around the building. These revealed hidden water losses and inefficiencies in the school’s water and heating systems, which can be fixed to create savings. Two major leaks were identified, something that could lower the college’s bills by over £20,000! The college is targeting a water reduction of over 15% by the end of 2024 and is using data from the systems in lessons on sustainability.

Gary Stevens is Co-Founder and Technical Director of SWAES Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions. He says: “Don't just save water – understand it. Installing a water monitoring solution will result in a smarter, more sustainable school.

A water monitoring system provides unparalleled visibility into your school's water usage. 85% of leaks go undetected, leading to thousands in wasted water. Our system alerts you to even the smallest anomalies, preventing costly surprises. Reduce your water bills by an average of 20% by proactively addressing inefficiencies and stopping leaks in their tracks.

The compelling reason for monitoring is that it will pay for itself within months, as proven with every installation.
Gary Stevens is Co-Founder and Technical Director of SWAES Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions

Fountain fun

Corpus Christi Primary School in Glasgow have installed water fountains around the school. Students use them to fill their water bottles at Breakfast Club, breaks and lunchtime.

Taking your own trendy water bottles to school, instead of buying fresh water from the supermarket, will not only save on the associated carbon costs of bottled water production and transportation, but it will also cut down on single use plastic.

Pupils at Corpus Christi Primary School in Glasgow show off their carrots grown in their school raised beds. Mulching the veg beds keeps the water in the soil, stops the topsoil from drying out, reduces the need for watering and keeps plants alive in hot weather. 
Photo: Corpus Christi school.
Pupils at Corpus Christi Primary School in Glasgow show off their carrots grown in their school raised beds. Mulching the veg beds keeps the water in the soil, stops the topsoil from drying out, reduces the need for watering and keeps plants alive in hot weather. Photo: Corpus Christi school.
A student at the school said: “When we were younger we didn’t think about how our litter could have such a big impact on our world. Now we know to make the right choices to protect our future and make it more sustainable.”

Saving nature from drought

There are so many ways to cut water waste in your school garden, allotment and grounds. During the summer months, heatwaves are having a growing impact on schools. This makes action even more important.

Planting drought-resistant plants and shrubs and using water butts for general watering (or drip-feed irrigation systems for larger gardens and growing spaces) all create savings, while making sure your plants stay alive. Mulching will also keep soil from drying out and needing as much watering – this is particularly important for school allotments so that precious veg seedlings don’t die in intense heat.

A hosepipe ban won’t you stop you from having a school full of colour. Use your water wisely and choose drought tolerant plants for the school flower beds if drought is an issue in your area, You could introduce Mangaves, Agapanthus or Coreopsis.

Embracing water saving brings a flood of benefits, from lower bills to behaviour change. Schools that join the Let’s Go Zero campaign get sustainability support, advice and opportunities linked to water saving and a host of other sustainability topics. There are now more than 2,800 UK schools signed up to Let’s Go Zero – and the campaign also calls for greater government action to support zero carbon schools.

Join schools around the UK in the Climate Action Countdown this summer from June 7 to July 5. Take part in the countdown which will support schools and young people to take part in fun, green challenges. Find more info about joining Let’s Go Zero and the Climate Action Countdown here.