Best Practices to Lower Your Water Bill and Save
Wasting water is a huge problem in America. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American homes average 88 gallons of water per day and over $1000 per year in water costs. A lot of that water usage is unnecessary.
We over-water our lawns, let the faucets run, and take long, luxurious showers. It’s easy to forget just how precious our water is when we have it on demand, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. But as the world’s weather patterns get more and more extreme as time goes on, water shortages could make our utility bills go way up.
You don’t have to change your entire lifestyle to get good at saving water. By changing a few bad habits and just being more aware of your water use, you can save some money on your water bill and help the planet out at the same time.
Here are 17 tips you can use to start making a difference in your water consumption today.
Save Water In the Bathroom
- Cut down on shower time. I know, shower time is “you time.” But those 15-20 minute showers every day add up to a lot of wasted water over the course of a year. Most of us can get in and out in just 4-5 minutes and be clean as a whistle. Bonus tip: if you really want to go gung-ho, turn off the water while you lather up or work shampoo and conditioner into your hair.
- Install a low-flow shower head. If you have high water pressure at home, you might be able to save some water (and money) by installing a low-flow shower head. They go for as little as $10 at online retailers and are pretty straightforward to install.
- Don’t run the sink while you brush your teeth or shave. We spend around five minutes brushing our teeth and ten minutes shaving. Most of us are guilty of letting that sink run the whole time. If your bathroom faucet runs at half a gallon per minute, think of all the money you’re pouring down the drain during this daily activity! Bonus tip: while you shave, keep a cup or jar of warm water next to the sink to rinse the blade.
- Take care of running toilets immediately. Is your toilet running? Well you better go catch it! All jokes aside, that running toilet could be contributing to your high water bills. Make sure all the components in the toilet tank are working properly. Replacing them is inexpensive and can be done easily with little or no tools.
- Save water with every flush using displacement. After you flush, the tank behind your toilet fills up with water, which is used for the next flush. By filling some old plastic bottles with sand or water and putting them in the tank, you’ll use less water with every flush. Bonus tip: if your toilet has an adjustable fill valve, you can use a flat-head screwdriver to adjust the fill valve and lower the water level in the tank.
- Wait for a full load before you run the dishwasher. Automatic dishwashers are a great way to save water over old-fashioned hand washing. But if you don’t fill them up, you’re still wasting water in the long run. Try to wait until all the racks are completely full before starting that wash cycle.
- Avoid washing dishes by hand. If you live in an older home without an automatic dishwasher this might not be an option, but washing dishes by hand uses a lot more water than you might think. Energy Star dishwashers use around 5 gallons or less per load, so if hand washing your dishes takes longer than 10 minutes, you’re using more than the machine.
- Keep drinking water in the refrigerator. When you pour a glass of water from the tap, do you let the sink run while you wait for the water to cool down? While not as dramatic as some other water saving methods, keeping a pitcher or two of drinking water in the fridge can avoid those moments of water waste.
- Start composting. Instead of feeding all those food scraps to your garbage disposal (yes, I know he’s hungry…), you could save all those organic goodies and start your own compost. What is compost? Compost is a mix of organic material ﹘ fruit and vegetable scraps, grass trimmings, fallen leaves, etc. ﹘ that is left in a pile or bin to decompose. The result is a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer that promotes healthier soil. Composting has become a popular practice in recent years. If you’re a gardener, you can use your compost pile to grow some seriously full and healthy vegetation.
Around the House
- Only run the washing machine with a full load. Just like with your dishwasher, running your washing machine below its capacity can add up to plenty of wasted water over time. Waiting for a full load of dirty clothes can put some serious savings on your water bill. Bonus tip: think twice before you use the permanent press setting, which adds an oft-unneeded second rinse cycle to your wash.
- Upgrade your appliances. Only choosing appliances around the house that have the Energy Star and WaterSense labels will make sure you’re being as water-efficient as possible. These products help you lower your water bill and often get the job done even better than their standard counterparts.
- Watch out for small leaks. Small leaks around the house might just seem like a minor annoyance. Some might even go undetected. But these constant drips add up over time. The EPA estimates that over a trillion gallons of water are wasted every year due to small water leaks. That’ll tack some extra dollars on your utility bill. Not to mention the possible damage that can occur from leaving leaks unrepaired.
- Use aerators on your faucets. Aerators are little attachments that go on the end of your faucets. They mix the water flowing out of the faucet with air, creating a more powerful stream while using less water overall. Most modern faucets already have aerators, but if you live in an older house, consider making this affordable upgrade.
Outside the House
- Trade your hose for a broom. Nothing says summertime like spraying away all that dirt and debris from your driveway with a hose. But all that water is essentially wasted. And while it might not be as much fun, you can get the same result with a broom. It doesn’t take much longer and you’ll get a little workout from it.
- Collect rainwater. No, I’m not suggesting you start drinking rainwater. But having something to collect the water that drains out of your gutters is a good way to save money watering the plants around your house. Totally free, all-natural, and good for your water bill.
- Water your lawn when it’s cool. Not everyone has the benefit of an automatic sprinkler system that runs on a timer. If you have to get outside and do things the old-fashioned way, make sure you do it in the morning or evening. If you water your lawn in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest, you’re going to lose a lot of water from evaporation. Bonus tip: if you have an automatic irrigation or sprinkler system, schedule your watering in the morning or early evening.
Getting smart about saving water doesn’t have to be hard. Most of these tips are easy to implement and won’t make you feel like you’re living in another century. If you want even more control, think about upgrading to a leak detection system.
Flo by Moen is a smart home water security and leak detection system that monitors your home’s water usage patterns and detects micro leaks as small as a drop per minute. Connected to a smartphone app, you receive notifications and can remotely shut off your home’s water if a major issue arises.
By being aware of your home’s water usage, in addition to catching leaks before they turn into greater issues, you are saving both water and money!
Do you know any tricks to save water at home? If we missed any good tips, we’d love to hear from you!