Owning a home is not for the faint of heart. There are many challenges and expenses that are unique to homeowners, but one of those is not the utility bill. Homeowners and renters alike are subject to monthly payments that include water usage, of which the average person uses 80 to 100 gallons per day. Short of never bathing or washing one’s clothes, is there a way to save money on your water bill each month? Yes—there are several.
Pony-Up to the Potty
It may come as a surprise, but the largest use of household water is the toilet. In fact, the porcelain throne accounts for 22–30% of the average home’s indoor water consumption. The problem used to be much worse, with each flush using about 3.5 gallons of water, but in 1994 the EPA standardized low-flow toilets which only use 1.6-gallons per flush.
If your toilet is not of the low-flow variety, it’s time for a change. Also be sure to fix any leaks in your toilet. You can test this by adding a bit of food coloring in the tank. If the color has leached into the bowl the next morning without toilet use, the rubber flapper or fill mechanism likely need to be repaired or replaced.
The shower is the second water-guzzler in the average household, accounting for 17% of home water use. While the urge to let the water run during that relaxing hot shower in the morning, if you want to save money on your water bill, you will keep your showers short.
If you are looking to really save money on your water bill, you can keep a bucket in your shower, especially if it is just running to warm up the water. This excess water can be used to water any plants you may have.
Install Efficient Shower Heads
The early 90s were a good time for updating the efficiency of water usage in the United States. Before 1992, showerheads used more than twice as much water as they do now. If you have fixtures from before then, you can save money on your water bill by updating. A good test is how quickly it takes for the water coming from your showerhead to fill a gallon bucket. If it is less than 20 seconds, it’s about time for a more efficient shower head. Look for something with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm.
Look for Leaks
A leak of one drip per second can waste up to 2,082 gallons of water, equating to nearly $44 each year. Unfortunately, there are many sources of water in the home that can spring a leak. Pay attention to plumbing, sinks, shower heads, spigots, dishwashers, washing machines, and the water heater.
Run Full Loads of Dishes or Laundry
Do not cram your dishwasher or washing machine too full, otherwise the load won’t get clean and the point of running it is wasted. However, it is more effective to run one full load as opposed to two half-full loads. It is also better for your washing machine’s or dishwasher’s longevity.
On the other hand, if you feel more virtuous washing your dishes by hand, just know it is actually more wasteful, using as many as 27 gallons of water per load by hand versus 3 gallons via an energy-efficient dishwasher. If you do not have a dishwasher, you can save money on your water bill by filling a sink with soapy water and cleansing the pots and pans with that instead of letting the water run.
Water Your Lawn Wisely
If you water your lawn during the hotter times of the day, it will evaporate more readily, negating the process. Because the grass won’t be able to soak up the water before it is lost to the heat of the day, you will need to water your lawn more, spiking your water bill without actually nourishing your lawn. Save money on your water bill by watering closer to dusk or dawn.
Don’t Let the Faucet Run
For every 10ºF temperature reduction in the water in your water heater, you can save approximately 3–5% on your water-heating costs. If you are in the habit of letting your faucet run as you wait for the water to warm up or cool down, don’t. If you need hot water, heat it on the stove. If you want your drinking water to be cold, store it in the fridge.
Invest in a Hybrid Hot Water Heater
This method is more likely to help your energy bill than your water bill, but we’re here to save you money wherever we can. Heating the water in your home accounts for roughly 20% of the energy used in your home. While water heaters have a substantial upfront cost, choosing the right one is one way to save money in the long run. If your water heater is nearing the end of its life or if you are looking to build a new home, consider installing a hybrid water heater. They produce bigger volumes of hotter water and are exceptionally more energy efficient.