Utility bills, like your water bill and electric bill, are an (expensive) fact of life for many people. Right alongside rent or mortgage payments, they show up every month. If you consistently see elevated water bills, it likely feels as if it's eating up a major part of your monthly budget. There are ways to reduce your water bill and save money, though. If you're feeling plagued by the numbers you see every month, check out these five tips below and implement them in your household. You'll start to see savings soon enough, and they'll build over time!
If you own your home or take care of your lawn, your grass may account for a surprising amount of your monthly water bill. If that's the case, there are several creative solutions out there that help you conserve water and keep more money in your pocket.
- Use Clover - Clover lawns are very drought tolerant, meaning they'll require little (to no) extra watering once they're established. They have deep roots and draw up most of the moisture they need from the soil. Clover is also an excellent food source for pollinators, like bees, and handles foot traffic like a champ.
- Rockscaping - If you live in a particularly hot climate or your area sees little rainfall, maintaining a fully green lawn may be out of the question. You don't have to settle for dust and dirt, though. Rockscaping is a clever (and beautiful) way around maintaining a traditional lawn. Rockscaping pairs well with drought-tolerant plants like succulents and cacti, but can even let you showcase particularly beautiful wildflowers! Great rockscaping doesn't leave you with a lifeless lawn, but it does cut down on your water usage.
- Drought-Tolerant Grasses - For those determined to keep a standard grass lawn, it'll be easier (and still save water) if you choose drought-tolerant grasses suitable for your climate. If you live in a warm climate, try Bermuda or St. Augustine grass. For cooler climates, opt for Fine Fescue to use the least water possible.
- Collect Rainwater - You'll need to check your local or state laws before you start collecting rainwater, but setting up even a basic rainwater collection system can help maintain your lawn without turning on your hose or sink faucets. All you need to get started on a super simple rainwater collection system is two plastic soda bottles. Cut the top couple of inches off the bottles, leaving them open to the rain, and secure them beneath an area where you notice water runoff (from your house, shed, or wherever you'd like).
Switch to Showers
A relaxing bath is a perfect treat once in a while, but it's also a water hog. Showers cut back on your water waste and they're more water-efficient. An average bath uses anywhere from 35 to 50 gallons of water, whereas a ten-minute shower cuts that number down to 25 gallons.
In other words, if you're serious about conserving water, you're better off opting for shorter showers and fewer baths. For households with kids (which may mean a shower isn't viable for all family members), reduce the amount of water in the tub. Their rubber duck might not swim quite as well, but you can still get them squeaky clean.
For further savings, consider investing in low-flow shower heads for your bathrooms. Some models may reduce water usage by up to 40%! Using the average number above, that means a ten-minute shower with a low-flow head only uses around 15 gallons of water. That's a huge difference compared with the 35 to 50 gallons for a bath.
Use the Dishwasher
Does this tip surprise you? A lot of people assume that washing dishes by hand will save them water, but that's not actually the case! Newer dishwashers typically only use about six gallons of water to run a full cycle, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In contrast, running your sink uses about two gallons per minute. To be as efficient as the dishwasher, you'd need to wash a full load of dishes in three minutes or less! The time it takes you to handwash dishes may get a bit longer depending on whether you're using hot or cold water, as the sink may need to run a few extra seconds for the hot water heater to catch up. Saving money (and water) gets a lot easier by loading everything up in the dishwasher instead.
Check for Leaks
Even slow leaks make a big difference in your water bill. They keep your water meter constantly running, and you're not even benefitting from it! Some leaks are obvious - like that faucet that keeps dripping, but others may be harder to spot. Regardless of the source of your leak, one thing is certain. You need to take care of it right away.
If you get a surprisingly high water bill, or you've done everything you can think of to reduce the bill but it doesn't seem to budge, it's time to go on a hunt for leaks. Check your toilet tank, and pipes beneath sinks, and maybe even head down to the basement to see if you spot something gone awry. You may even be able to handle simple leaks yourself, but even spending money on a professional plumber will probably cost less in the long run than continuing to waste water and pay every month for your leak!
Mind Your Laundry
While some clothes are delicate enough to demand their own cycle, most laundry can be lumped together. If possible, you should always try to run a full load with each cycle. The average water use for each cycle depends entirely on the type of machine you have, but even the most high-efficiency machines still use around seven gallons per cycle. That's quite a lot of water to use for a couple of T-shirts and a pair of socks!
Luckily, washing a full load of laundry each time has a double benefit. You'll cut down on your water use and save a bit on your electric bill, too. After all, you need electricity to power your machine! So let that hamper get full before you run the next round.
Unless you set up an off-the-grid homestead, you'll likely be dealing with a water bill for most of your life. Don't let it get the best of you! Use the tips above to start cutting down on your water use and putting away extra money each month. It's better for the environment and better for your bank account.
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