October 10, 2012 05:38 ET

Money Down the Drain? Dripping Taps Waste Up to 2.5billion Litres Per Year Reports HomeServe

WALSALL, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Oct. 10, 2012) - An estimated 2.5billion litres1 of water was wasted from UK homes last year due to dripping taps that went unfixed, new research from HomeServe, Britain's leading home emergency and home insurance provider, reveals today.

The research found that nearly six in 10 adults (57%) admit that they would not know how to fix a dripping tap without calling out a plumber. With 17% of households encountering a problem of this kind in the past year, the combined lost water would be enough to fill one thousand Olympic-sized swimming pools. Some 15% of dripping taps reported have as yet gone unfixed, while a further 8% of those that were fixed took at least a month to rectify.

But the research shows that there is disagreement as to how much of a concern water wastage represents. Britons are more worried about the cost of wasted water than environmental concerns, with 27% strongly agreeing that they were conscious of how water usage impacted upon their bills, compared to 20% who strongly agreed that they were conscious of how it impacted the environment. A third (34%) of respondents agreed that water wastage would not affect them if their water bill remained the same.

While leaving a dripping tap unfixed for a day or two isn't going to break the bank in terms of utility bills, the charges can quickly mount up. A constantly dripping hot water tap, left unchecked for a year, would cost the average homeowner more than £100 in water bills and as much as £900 in gas bills,2 even more for homes with electrically-heated water.

Perhaps mindful of the wet summer and recent downpours, more than half (51%) believed that drought warnings and hosepipe bans tend to be exaggerated by government to some extent, with 61% admitting that a drought warning wasn't likely to lead them to wash their car less frequently.

Altogether, a third (34%) of UK households have suffered some form of leak in the past year, contributing 4.5billion litres of wasted water in total. Leaking pipes prove to be something of a blind spot for the country's DIY homeowners, with 62% preferring to call in a professional in the case of a leak, and more than half (55%) worrying that they would make a leak worse by trying to fix it themselves.

HomeServe Memberships CEO Jonathan King said: "Wasted water is rightly of growing concern to water companies and environmentally aware individuals, and dripping taps or leaking pipes that go without being fixed are a significant contribution to the problem. With only 17 per cent of the UK population knowing how to fix a leaking water pipe, it is worth turning to a qualified tradesman who will fix water leaks quickly, saving both energy and a great deal of money."

If you've sprung a leak in your home, it's always best to call in the experts. However there are some simple measures you can take to temporarily fix a leaking pipe and help to prevent your home from water damage:

Step 1 - Turn off your stop tap

Place a bucket or bowl underneath to catch the water. Before attempting to fix the leak, you'll need to locate and turn off your stop tap. If you have a ceiling leak where water is dripping through, make a small hole with a screwdriver and catch the water in a bucket; this will help to prevent the water building up and causing further damage. Smaller leaks can be fixed temporarily with relative ease.

Step 2 - Tape up the leak

If you have any waterproofing amalgamation tape, try wrapping this around the source of the leak. Remember to always read the instructions on the packet before use.

Step 3 - Use a garden hose

If you don't have any waterproof tape, a length of garden hose makes an effective alternative. Ensure that the hose is longer than the damaged section of the pipe, then slice it lengthways. Wrap the hose around the affected area and hold it in place with a hose clamp.

Step 4 - After the leak's fixed

These quick fixes will stop the water dripping for a short time, but the only way to prevent further damage is to replace the faulty pipes. It's always best to get a professional to help you with more complicated work like this.

For more top tips like these, explaining what to do in a range of home emergencies, visit

Number of households reporting leaks by region (estimate)*
Region Number of leaks
(last 12 months)
Percentage of
1. London 2,144,000 41%
2. West Midlands 891,000 39%
3. East Midlands 711,000 38%
4. South East 1,261,000 36%
5. North West 808,000 35%
6. North East 384,000 35%
7. Yorkshire and Humber 703,000 32%
8. Wales 415,000 32%
9. South West 714,000 31%
10. East 718,000 29%
11. Scotland 533,000 22%
* Estimate based on HomeServe research, September 2012
1 Based on Thames Water research (Waterwise campaign, 2003) indicating that a dripping tap wastes up to 13 litres per day.
Total estimated wastage due to dripping taps from a random sample of 2,000 UK households (Canadean Consumer research on behalf of HomeServe, Sept 2012) = 187,343 litres in the past year.
Total number of UK households (ONS, 2011) = 26.3million
(26,300,000 / 2,000) X 187,343 = 2,463,560,400
2 Based on metered water supply and standard gas boiler rates

About HomeServe

Every 1 minute a HomeServe engineer comes to the rescue of a British household. HomeServe is a national emergency home repair service backed by a 24 hour claims handling and repair network.

HomeServe tradesmen are guaranteed to turn up on time, to hold the necessary qualifications to do the job at hand, to provide a price before they start the job and will even guarantee their work for a 12 month period afterwards.

HomeServe also offers insurance cover for plumbing, drains, electrical wiring and gas central heating. It has over 6 million policy members in the UK and a further 4 million in the USA and France.

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