Tom Reynolds, chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association shares his thoughts on water-saving progression in the UK.

As the cost of living crisis bites, households up and down the country are looking for ways to reduce monthly outgoings. As we head into winter, more and more people are resisting the temptation to heat their homes as they usually would.

The awareness to reduce our energy consumption is very high, but can we say the same for water? In addition, are consumers fully informed about the energy needed to heat water for baths and showers and where savings can be made?

I’ve spoken numerous times about the UK’s water scarcity challenges and the ongoing efforts by bathroom manufacturers to include integrated water-saving technology in their products. Many products are on or close to market, from recirculating showers and flow regulators to forced-air toilets. Adoption of these products, however, does take an industry-wide awareness effort from manufacturers, retailers, designers and installers.

The BMA commissions Opinium Research bi-annually to provide insights into our sector, and in the latest report collated in July 2022, they looked at showers and the cost of living. The results highlight that when thinking of buying a new shower, price (56%) is the most important consideration for the public. Energy efficiency (49%) and water efficiency (43%) were also important.

More than half (51%) of the British public say their attitude to reducing water use has changed due to the rising cost of living. This grows to 71% of 18-34-year-olds. When asked what they think a reduction in the frequency or duration of showers would cause, 58% believe it would save the amount of water they use. Other knock-on effects include saving money on energy bills (51%) and energy used (48%). The same amount thinks it would save on their water bills (48%).

This research shows a desire from the public to include water-saving measures. While we welcome this, we know this ‘desire’ urgently needs to become a reality to save water and reduce bills.

The BMA secretariat recently attended a meeting organised through the Future Homes Hub to assist in gathering evidence for their project on water efficiency. Many diverse opinions were aired, yet there was a recognition that although manufacturers see a rise in interest in low-use water products, the uptake is disappointing. Ultimately, bathroom fittings can be hyper-efficient, but how they are used and what is expected of them must be understood. Consumers must use water-efficient products as they were designed to be used.

The adoption of water-saving products, using them properly, and reminders about water-efficient behaviour will rely on the continued efforts of our entire sector. This includes designers, and I would encourage them to spark the conversation with customers – highlighting the benefits to their pockets long term and their environmental footprint.