5 Ways to Save on Your Water Bill
We know that watering our lawn in the rain or watching the sprinkler system drench the sidewalk is a huge waste of a precious resource. But how can we conserve our water consumption inside the house? Aside from forgoing showers for the rest of your life, consider these some tips on how to save water (and money!):
1. Buy New Appliances
Who doesn’t want something bright, shiny and new? And, as an added bonus, a newer washing machine or dishwasher will save you from wasting water. Water-efficient products marked with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label require less water to operate. The EPA’s Energy Star designation also helps identify the most efficient items to buy.
How much are you saving? Energy Star-rated washers use 35 percent less water and 20 percent less energy than regular washers.
2. Fix Leaky Pipes
A leaky pipe behind the wall can be tricky to detect unless there’s obvious damage. Pay attention to your water bill and note any significant changes from one month to another — a jump in water usage may indicate a leaky pipe. Call a highly rated plumber to help you investigate.
Need to check your tank? James York, owner of highly rated Southern Plumbing Services in Stafford, Texas, says the toilet can be one of the biggest culprits. “Water from the tank leaks into the bowl and then down the drain, and you can’t hear it or see it happening,” he says. York recommends homeowners put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and let it sit for a few hours. “If the food coloring bleeds into the bowl, you’ve got a leak.”
3. Replace Fixtures
Replace faucets and shower heads with water-saving models (look for the WaterSense label) or add aerators to existing fixtures. A low-flow shower head costs between $10 and $50.
For free? Some cities — like Palo Alto, Calif., and Indianapolis — offer free home audits. A surveyor analyzes the amount of energy and water a household uses and provides low-flow fixtures or aerators free-of-charge. Check with your local utility company for similar programs in your area.
4. Turn Water Off
Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or shave. Showers take less water than baths (just keep an eye on how long you’re in there). Plug up the sink if doing dishes by hand. Thaw food in the refrigerator overnight rather than using a running tap of hot water. Make sure to fully load your dishwasher and washing machine before starting.
Did you know? The average U.S. family of four uses 400 gallons of water a day.
5. Replace Your Toilet
If your toilet was manufactured before 1992’s Energy Policy Act, chances are it’s a water-waster. Citing water conservation, the Energy Policy Act required all new toilets to be low-flow, restricting water usage to a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush instead of the old average of 3.5 gallons.
Do your research before switching out your commode as there are a variety of options. Dual-flush toilets give homeowners the choice to use different amounts of water in order to dispose of solid waste or liquid waste.
Really? If all the inefficient toilets in U.S. homes were converted to WaterSense models, we would save 640 billion gallons of water per year — the equivalent to 10 days of flow over Niagara Falls.