Let the tap water run for a short time: Necessary – or wasting water?

Let the tap water run for a short time: Necessary – or wasting water?
Photo: CC0 / Public Domain / Pixabay, Tom

It often takes a moment before cold, fresh water comes out of the tap in the morning, and not just in summer. Often heard: Let the water run first. But is that really necessary? We have tips and important information.

We all know the tip to let the water run for a few seconds in the morning until fresh, cool water comes out. With a view to the water crisis caused by climate change, however, one winces when many liters of water disappear unused down the drain.

We asked: Does the rule still make sense? And what about the water scarcity that is warned about in many regions during the warm season?

Drinking tap water saves money and protects the environment.
Drinking tap water saves money and protects the environment. (Photo: CC0 / Public Domain / Pexels, Julia Zolotova )

First things to know:

  • Tap water is an ideal thirst quencher – and drinking a lot is important, not only on hot days or when we do sports.
  • Drinking tap water protects the climate and the environment: “The climate impact of mineral water in Germany is almost 600 times higher than that of tap water,” explains the consumer advice center.

  • Water from the tap is about 100 times cheaper than purchased mineral water – and just as recommendable.
  • You can safely drink tap water in Germany at any time of the year.

Let the water run first thing in the morning?

Yes, say the water suppliers and the Federal Environment Agency: Drinking water that has been in the pipe for more than four hours should no longer be used to prepare food and drinks. If water hasn’t flowed through the line for several hours, you should let the water run until it comes out of the faucet cool.

Because the so-called “stagnant water” (water that has been in the pipes for several hours or days) is no longer fresh: Substances from the fittings and pipes can settle in the water, germs and bacteria can multiply.

Therefore: “We recommend letting the water run until it no longer gets colder. Depending on the floor and the distance that the water has to travel from the pipe network to the tap, this can be 15 to 60 seconds,” explains Astrid Hackenesch-Rump from Berliner Wasserbetriebe to Utopia. This is particularly important when preparing baby food.

How do I recognize fresh water? If the water comes out of the tap cooler than the stagnant water, it is fresh.

And what about the wasted water? Health comes first in this case. If you’re concerned about the large amount of water that ends up unused right down the drain – you can easily save the water and use it for something else:

Saving water: 6 tips

Anyone who does not want to waste the first liters of stale, lukewarm water that comes out of the tap can use the water collected in buckets or large pots in a variety of ways:

  • for watering indoor plants
  • for watering the garden
  • to clean
  • for rinsing
  • for skin care
  • for watering urban trees

You can also save water elsewhere without much effort: For example, by taking shorter showers, using a water-saving shower head and watering the plants with rainwater.

Are legionella a danger to our drinking water?

Legionella, ie bacteria that occur naturally in fresh water, can multiply in hot water pipes. Legionella in tap water can cause flu-like illnesses and severe pneumonia.

Here is important to know:

  • The risk of legionella does not exist with water that has only been in the pipes for a short time, but above all after a long absence, for example after a long holiday.
  • The risk of legionella is less with drinking water than with showering when the water is misted and inhaled.
  • Legionella cannot spread at temperatures below 20 degrees. The temperature of the groundwater in Germany is usually between 10 and 15 degrees, so cold drinking water is completely unproblematic.

After returning from vacation, you should let the water in the bathroom and kitchen run at maximum temperature for a few minutes: temperatures above 60 degrees kill the bacteria.

At the moment, the tip that is often heard is to lower the temperature of hot water systems in order to save gas and energy. You should not lower this temperature too much because of the risk of legionella, but leave it at at least 60 degrees. Also read: Saving energy: Does a reduced water temperature increase the risk of legionella?

If you are still unsure, you can also have your water tested for Legionella by a private provider, e.g. at wassertest-online.de.

Read more on Techzle.com:

  • Testing tap water: reasons and contact points
  • Drink water: this much is healthy
  • Mineral water test: uranium, nitrate and pesticides – but also 8 test winners

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