How to Save on Water Bills
For most people, getting the water & sewer bill isn’t going to be to big of a hit to the bank account. I receive a bill every 3 months, and it usually averages out to about $40 a month. However, the thing to keep in mind in terms of water usage, is that you’re not only paying for the water itself (and any associated “sewer” fees from your municipality), you’re also paying for the fuel or electricity to heat it.
Beyond water usage, you have to heat water for your dishwasher, shower, washing machine, and whatever else you may need hot water for. After studying my heat and electric bills I am estimating for 2 people it currently costs about $40 per month to heat water. Any water usage that you are able to cut down is not only going to cut your water bill, but you’re also going to be able to proportionately cut down your energy bills as well.
Let’s Take a Look at Just how Much Money you Can Save when you Cut Water Usage
1. Replace your Shower Head
Purchase a low flow 2 or 2.5 gallon-per-minute shower head. A 10 minute shower with a non-efficient shower head uses 42 gallons, while an Energy Star model uses half that. Here’s the Delta low flow showerhead that I purchased. For a family of four you’d be saving 21,000 gallons of water and about $200 in energy costs per year. Where else can you get a 1,000% return on investment within just one year while helping to preserve the environment?
2. Wrap your Water Heater
If you have a non-efficient water heater, rapping your water heater with an insulating blanket can save you up to 9% on your water heating costs. Water heater blankets are cheap, here’s a cheap water heater blanket. You’re guaranteed to multiply your initial return on investment within the first year.
3. Re-think Hand Dish Washing
If you are hand washing dishes multiple times a day, you may be doing more harm than good in terms of energy and water savings. Energy efficient dishwashers can do the job on just a few gallons of water. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a big fan of cleaning a sink full of dishes with greasy, food-chunk-floaty-filled water. An energy efficient dishwasher can save you at least $30 per year on energy alone, not to mention the worry that comes from washing your dishes in their own filth.
4. Fix the Leaky Faucet
According to BCHydro, a leaky faucet can waste 2,500 gallons of water per year that costs $39 to heat if it’s hot. Even if it’s not hot water, 2,500 gallons is a whole lot of wasted water to have on your conscience. Here’s a video on how to fix a leaky faucet.
While you’re at it, you should also learn how to fix a leaky toilet.
5. Turn Down your Water Heater
If you’re getting more of a true temperature when taking showers versus wasting time trying to balance hot and cold, you’re wasting water and energy. Water heaters have multiple settings usually ranging from vacation to hot. Your hot water should be comfortable while you’re taking a shower without having to turn the cold water on as well if you have two knobs (or at full heat if you have one turn lever).
For me, this is just past vacation onto ‘warm’ on our hot water heater (your dial may vary). According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, for each 10 degrees that you turn your water heater down, you can lower your water heater costs by 3-5%. If you run on a temperature dial, at 120 degrees, your water is probably sufficiently hot.
6. Purchase an Energy Efficient Washing Machine or at Least Run your Washer on Cold & at a Lower Water Level
Energy efficient washing machines can save over $550 in energy over their lifetime. However, they’re not cheap, so let’s focus on behaviors. We’ve all been guilty many times over on just flipping on the dial and using hot water more than we need to. Simply be conscious about how much water and heat you need when washing your clothes.
7. Who Needs Grass, Anyways?
I live in a moderate climate and my grass is green for about 2 months out of the year unless it is watered constantly. The cost of watering your lawn is not cheap.
It takes a ton of water to keep your grass green, not to mention the inevitable sidewalk and driveway runoff that keeps nothing green. The irony is that constantly watering your grass can do it more harm than good. Grass goes brown in hot weather for a reason – it is going dormant to protect itself from the sun.
There are plenty of ground coverings that look great without requiring much, if any, water. Depending on your climate, take a serious look at sedum, pachysandra, myrtle, creeping lily turf, or good ole’ wood chips, rocks, and ornamental grasses. They tend to look better anyways
How have you Cut your Water Bill?
Please comment and share some ways that you’ve been able to save water and money in doing so.
My wife and I try to do our fair share for the environment. We do not water our grass, and we rarely mow which is a double whammy in my opinion. We are lucky that the house that we moved into had a very efficient/new boiler heater that heats or home and our water. We have a really cool heat exchanger/holding tank instead of an active water heater. About a year ago we installed a new dish washer that has a top load only option, we use that setting quite regularly or wait until we have enough to fill the dish washer before we run it. I have been kicking around the idea of installing a grey water system, but since my house is on a slab foundation it is something that is going to wait until we get into more extensive remodeling.
I would highly suggest that anyone who needs a new water heater; look at the tankless models.
Great advice Trevor. Tankless models are a great idea and are 99% efficient. Essentially the water heats as soon as it is need (it doesn’t sit idly by getting cold).
If you have one of the older, less efficiant toilets, you can take a (CLEANED!) half-gallon of milk (plastic!), fill it with water, and put it in there. That’s half a gallon less of water per flush!
Thank you for mentioning watering the grass! I live and work on a college campus, and it absolutely drives me CRAZY that the University is constantly asking students to conserve water by taking shorter showers, etc., but then they have sprinklers all over campus, often watering the same patch of grass for hours on end so that water is running down the sidewalk and parking lot. This is one of my biggest pet peeves!
@ Allen – that’s a nifty little tip. I didn’t cover efficient toilets, and for the many of us who don’t have them, your tip should work wonders.
@ G.E.Miller: Thank ye kindly. People used to put bricks down them, but then started to realize that the brick slowly dissolved, and the brick-bits were getting stuck in the plumbing… really not a good idea.
How much is water pressure affected with a low fuel shower head?
Energy efficient and energy saver products are the way to go and should become standard in every apartment and house.
I like the “who needs grass anyway” comment. I grew up meticulously taking care of 5 acres with my dad and brother every weekend. Now I own 2 acres and it nevers gets watered. It still turns out OK here in Florida as long as it rains. When it stops raining the grass turns brown…… I don’t care…… it turns green again when it rains.
Let nature do it’s thing. Why fight it?
Thanks for this! We try to keep the office as green as possible and promote and use a number of green products. And thanks for the needed fuel I need to convince the wife that it’s about time we get a dishwasher. “But honey…it’s simply better for the environment”…who can argue with that? ;)
Thanks for the tips. I have done everything on the list except getting an energy efficient washer (waiting on better finances). Even if the actual cost savings is minimal from these changes, if every household in the US would just implement some of these, our energy and water consumption as a whole would be reduced tremendously. Every person pitching in helps.
Thank you for writing this! I’m currently working on a project that gives water and energy costs to lawn care practices – would love your advice on how to proceed!