In wintertime, many homeowners are used to seeing their heating bills spike. But that may not be the only household system that could increase your monthly payments. Your water usage can really put a damper on your new year if you aren’t careful. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to save money on your water bills (and reduce your water waste).
Be More Mindful
In many cases, saving water and money comes down to being more cognizant of your habits. The average American uses approximately 88 gallons of water each day in their home, but you might be able to get that usage down if you pay closer attention to your own behaviors.
For example: taking a long, luxurious shower might feel great, especially when it’s freezing outside. But it can waste a lot of water. If your house is full of guests for the holiday season, you’ll need to be especially mindful about the length of your showers. Keep in mind that more energy is required to heat the water in your home, which means you should use cold water whenever you can to wash your hands, brush your teeth, or wash clothes. You should also remind yourself to turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth and to refrain from washing dishes by hand before you run the dishwasher. And speaking of dishwashers, they should be run only when they’re completely full. The same goes for your washing machine. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of water and paying for it later. Since the average U.S. household already spends $500 (or more) on their water and sewer bills every year, do you really want to add to that through bad habits?
Check Your Plumbing
Sometimes, the water being wasted can’t be reduced by shortening your showers or turning off the faucet. If your plumbing is in a state of disrepair, you could be wasting a lot without even realizing it. One leaky faucet can waste 100 gallons of water each day. And according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, around 10% of US homes have leaks that waste upwards of 90 gallons of water on a daily basis — the equivalent of five extra showers. A slow leak can start to build over time, which can cause your bills to rise each month.
It’s not just your faucet that could be the culprit, either. Your toilet can leak too, which can be a major problem. You can easily test whether your toilet is leaking by putting a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color starts to show up in the toilet bowl after about 10 minutes, it’s time to call your plumber for repairs or replacement. Flushing your toilet already represents around 25% of your water bill, and with all the guests you’ll be entertaining over the holidays, you’ll want to take care of any problems sooner rather than later.
Give Some Eco-Friendly Gifts
The holiday season is upon us, so there’s no better time to give your home a bit of an upgrade. More than four out of five renovating homeowners replace major bathroom features (like flooring, countertops, showers, and sinks). If your toilet, sink, or shower head is wasting water or is nearing the end of its lifespan, this is the perfect opportunity to replace it with something more environmentally friendly. A low flush toilet can help you waste significantly less water, while a high-efficiency shower head (like a water aerator, which mixes air with water to reduce water use and improve the overall flow) can make your bathing experience that much better. According to Energy Star, installing a faucet or shower aerator can help you save nearly 3500 gallons of water per year. When you put it that way, these upgrades are likely well worth the cost.
Among household expenses, we might not worry too much about our water bill — until the damage has been done and you’re faced with a steep amount due. By assessing the state of your plumbing and how your own behaviors may be contributing to water waste, you’ll be able to save money and do your part to save the planet.
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