Water bills can bust household budgets, especially in July and August, when we’re watering parched lawns and keeping swimming pools full.
Sure, we can allow our lawns to turn brown and put only four feet of water in our five-foot pools, but we need to take showers, use our toilets and wash dishes. The fact is most of us can do those things more efficiently if we knew how.
So here are five easy ways to lower your next water bill:
1. Buy a water-efficient toilet. Toilets use more water than any other source in your house – 27 percent, to be exact, according to the American Water Works Association. Older toilets use three and a half to seven gallons of water per flush, but newer toilets use less than two gallons per flush, so replace older toilets with newer ones as soon as you can.
2. Stop leaks ASAP. Leaks use 14 percent of water in the average household, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water a day. That’s 73,000 gallons a year. The average household uses 127,400 gallons a year, including outdoor use, so you can see how much water can be saved by stopping leaks. If you can’t make the repairs yourself, ask a handy friend to do it or hire a professional handyman or a plumber.
3. Turn the faucet off when you brush your teeth. This might not seem to be worth your while, but the EPA says two gallons of water a minute comes out of an open bathroom faucet. One person who brushes his teeth twice a day can save 120 to 200 gallons a month by using water only to get the toothbrush wet before he starts and rinses his brush when he is done, according to the EPA. If you pay $5 for 750 gallons of water, you can save nearly $20 a year by doing this.
4. Avoid washing dishes by hand. Washing a load of dishes by hand uses about 20 gallons of water. A dishwasher uses about 10 gallons, and it gets dishes cleaner. But don’t run your dishwasher until it is full. It uses the same amount of water whether it is empty, half full or full. 5. Buy a new, energy-efficient washing machine. Your clothes washer accounts for 22 percent of household water usage – second only to toilets, according to the American Water Works Association. Older washing machines use 27 to 54 gallons of water. Cut water usage by a third by buying an energy-efficient machine. And like dishwasher usage, only use your washing machine when you have a full load.
Bonus tip: Take quick showers. Showers use 17 percent of water in the average American household. Buy a low-flow shower head, saving about three gallons per shower, and limit your showers to 10 minutes or less.