Trim Your Water Bill This Summer!
Swimming, boating, and other water sports are among the great joys of summer. However, on the home front, summer is a time when water bills can spike! It’s a good time to think about ways to reduce your usage.
For most homeowners, a smaller water bill is simply a matter of awareness—paying attention to a few steps that will reduce costs, without sacrificing summer fun.
In the summer, most households use between 30 and 70 percent of their water outdoors. An estimated 50 percent of that use is wasted to evaporation, wind, or runoff from overwatering, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Start by rethinking your approach to lawn care. To make the biggest dent in your water bill, consider replacing water-hungry lawns with drought-resistant landscaping plants. Also, add mulch to any bedding areas, to help plants retain water better.
To maintain a lawn with less water:
- Don’t cut your lawn too short. To reduce water evaporation, put your mower on the tallest setting.
- If you water your lawn, consider using soakers rather than sprinklers—another way to reduce evaporation.
- If you use sprinklers, do so when it’s cooler—either early in the morning, or late in the evening. During the heat of the day, more water will evaporate before soaking into the ground.
- If your soil doesn’t absorb water well (including clay and other compact soil types), short watering cycles twice a day may be more effective than one long cycle.
- De-thatching and aerating your lawn will also help with water absorption and prevent wasteful runoff.
Other ways to save on outdoor water use:
- Have a pool? Keep it covered when it’s not in use, to reduce surface evaporation.
- Consider collecting water in a rain barrel or a cistern, for watering outdoor plants.
- Check for any leaks in your incoming water lines and exterior faucets, and replace the washers in your hose each spring.
- Sweep off driveways and sidewalks, rather than “spraying” them clean with a hose.
- Run your car through an automatic carwash. Typically, this costs less than the incremental increase in your home water bill—and you don’t have to do the work!
Trimming your water bill isn’t limited to summer months, or outside uses. There are many ways to save money year-round, inside your home:
- Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, or shaving. (Just run a small amount to rinse the brush and/or blade.)
- Instead of waiting for tap water to get cold at the sink, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator.
- Start a compost pile, to reduce the need to run water for a garbage disposal.
- When washing and rinsing dishes by hand, don’t leave water running hard. Instead, run a small trickle in the sink, or dip dishes into a small bowl of rinse water.
- While your shower “warms up,” catch the running water in a bucket, then use it to freshen pets’ water bowls, or to water plants.
- Don’t wash fruits and vegetables under running water. Instead, use a bowl.
More indoor water savers:
- Fix any dripping faucets. Believe it or not, within one year, a single drip every two seconds equals 1,388 gallons of wasted water!
- Consider shortening your shower time by one or two minutes. It will save over 100 gallons a week.
- Put food coloring in your toilet tank and watch the bowl for any leaks. Colored water leaking through means it’s time to replace the rubber flapper and/or the flushing mechanism, which will save hundreds of gallons a month.
- Install aerators on your faucets and buy water-saving showerheads, potentially including a quick on-off switch to use while lathering up in the shower.
- Don’t run your washing machine or your dishwasher on small or half-full loads.
For most homeowners, it’s easier to SAVE money than to MAKE money. When it comes to water use, small savings can add up fast! Evaluate your water use, and make it a habit to “conserve” for you and your family’s future. After all, savings this summer may add up to next summer’s family vacation!