And people living in the Northern Territory are among the worst culprits.
“In Darwin and Alice Springs water use is two-and-a-half times the national average per capita,” Jethro Laidlaw told ABC Radio Darwin‘s Lyrella Cochrane.
Mr Laidlaw is a program manager for Living Water Smart, a Power and Water Corporation initiative designed to reduce water wastage across the NT.
He said the bulk of the average Territorian’s water use could be attributed to garden irrigation, but it need not be so.
“If you water your garden every day, try and water every second day for 20 per cent longer,” he said.
“By reducing the frequency of watering you can encourage your plants to grow deeper roots that reach down into the cooler ground below.”
Terminate trickling toilets
Leaky water pipes, faulty fittings and a defective dunny can also be major contributors to water wastage.
Mr Laidlaw said most people were unaware of hidden water leaks in their homes and often put rising water bills down to external causes.
“Even a leak you can’t see yet, just a trickle down the back of the toilet can be 50,000 or 100,000 litres a year,” he said.
“We recommend people go to their water meter and do a three-step leak check.”
Another of the biggest users of water in the family home can be washing dishes by hand.
“Your sink, if you fill it to the top, is about 30 litres, halfway might be 15 or 20 litres, and very often you’ll do a bit of rinsing beforehand and you might use two or three sink loads,” Mr Laidlaw said.
“Some modern dishwashers use as little as seven litres per load, so as far as water goes the dishwasher is actually cheaper.”
Hot vs cold debate
Mr Laidlaw is often asked if washing clothes in cold water has any merit when it comes to saving on water or electricity.
“It really depends on what kind of water heater you have, but an electric water heater costs somewhere between 1.5 and two cents per litre to actually heat the water,” he said.
“So if you’re using 50 or 60 litres on a load of washing, or if you’ve got a top loader that might be 100 litres, that can be $1 or $2 just for the water heating.”
He said the choice to use hot or cold water to wash clothes ultimately came down to what was dirtying your clothes.
“If you’re a mechanic you probably need hot water, but if you work in an office then cold will probably get you out of trouble.
“If you try and wash your dishes with cold water you’re not going to have much luck cleaning the Sunday roast pan — you need a bit of hot to loosen those oils, and it’s the same principle with your clothes.”