Saving money on your utility bills is a great way to go from being in the red at the end of the month to enjoying a monthly savings that can go toward larger purchases such as a new laptop or an upgraded smartphone. Perhaps one of the most often overlooked bills for cost cutting comes from your water utility.
I spent five years working for an electric/water utility helping customers with concerns regarding their bills. During this time, I picked up on a number of tricks that really work toward cutting costs and keeping the monthly budget under control. Water is an essential resource for any household, though here in America we tend to take advantage of the abundance of the resource, which can lead to often surprising hits to the pocketbook come the end of our billing cycles.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to cut this often expensive bill down. Believe it or not, the average person in the US uses about 4,000 gallons of water each month. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for cutting usage. A household of four, for example, would have somewhere around 12,000 gallons of water to cut down from, making group efforts count that much more.
Gadgets That Help You Conserve
Let’s face it: Geeks love gadgets. Gadgets help us by making kicking stubborn habits a little easier. This could easily be relayed to excessive water usage. Here are some gadgets that can help you cut down on your water bill.
The Aqualim is an interesting take on an efficient shower head. Not only does it conserve water during your shower, but it keeps tabs on just how much time you’ve spent in there. After a set amount of water has been used, the flow will reduce to little more than a soft dribble. After a little more time, it will shut off completely. You can reset the shower once if you have a hair full of shampoo and need a good amount of water to finish up.
The downside of the Aqualim is that it isn’t available just yet. It’s expected to release to the Australian market soon, at a retail price of about AU$80. If you live in Australia, you can sign up to be part of the first batch shipped out at AU$55.
It’s easy to forget just how much water flows through a water hose while watering the plants, operating the sprinkler, or washing the family car. There is one gadget that can help remind you of exactly how much water you’re using, allowing you to better gauge your usage in real time. The Water Saver is a small, portable water meter that attaches to your hose, measures the flow, and gives you a simple readout of your current usage.
Sometimes, it can be hard to remember exactly how long you’ve been in the shower. This little 2×2″ device attaches to the wall using a suction cup, and gives you a five-minute reminder to wrap things up and go about your day. All you need to do is push it to start, and it’s ready when you are.
Water Saving Tips
Not everything can be improved with the help of a gadget. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help in the effort of water conservation.
Check for Leaks
Check your home for leaks monthly. Leaky faucets aren’t the only potential water wasters lurking in the nether regions of your home. An underground leak can be difficult to detect and costly to repair. An undetected or untreated leak, however, can lead to permanent damage to your home and hundreds of dollars in wasted water over a period of time.
Detecting leaks is actually a fairly simple process. All you need to do is shut off all the water-using devices in your home and take a trip out to the water meter. Once there, take a photo of the meter with your phone. This will give you a clear idea of the kind of water leak you may have once you return to check the meter later.
At this point, you may want to leave the house for a bit. An hour or two will do just fine. Upon your return, check the meter and see if the photo you took earlier looks any different. If it does, you may have a leak. Water meters can be tricky to read because of the reversing dials, but if you can figure it out you’ll be able to estimate just how bad the leak actually is.
Maintain Your Toilet
Have you ever heard your toilet run in the middle of then night? If so, there’s a chance that you may have a small leak that slowly drains from the tank to the bowl throughout the day. Checking for this leak is very easy. All you need to do is drop some food coloring in the tank and wait. If the bowl water changes color, you’ve got a leak.
Fixing this kind of leak is also a very easy thing to do. There is a gasket at the bottom of the tank that is supposed to fall flush to the pipe leading to the bowl. When you flush, this gasket lifts and the water drains down through the opening. Replacing this gasket can solve most issues fairly easily.
You may also want to consider filling a bottle with water and placing it in the tank. This can reduce the amount of water used with every flush.
Stop Wasting Water
Most of the battle to lowering your water bill comes down to personal habits. Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, watering the lawn on a conservative cycle by hand rather than setting up a sprinkler and letting it go all day, and even limiting your showers can have a huge impact on your overall water usage.
Water your plants at night rather than during the day. The heat of the sun evaporates water very quickly, even during the milder months. By watering at night, you’re allowing more to get to the roots and provide nourishment.
A lot of water can be saved by sorting your laundry a little differently. Instead of running six loads of laundry, see if you can combine loads without risking color bleeding. Waiting until you have a full load worth of clothes before running it can also help conserve a good amount of water. After all, do you really need that shirt tomorrow?
The dishwasher actually conserves more water than hand washing does in most cases. It’s easy to keep the faucet on full blast while scrubbing a pot. A dishwasher uses a minimal amount of water for everything. This can add up to big savings over time.
Fix drippy faucets as soon as you see them. A steady drip can waste hundreds and even thousands of gallons over a single month. This adds up to a lot of money during the period of a year.
Technology has given us a great deal of tools to help manage and conserve our water usage. In 2010, New Yorkers received an upgrade to their existing water service in the form of a wireless water meter. This meter transmits the water usage to the utility and makes it accessible to the user with a click of the mouse.
Appliances will undoubtedly become more water efficient as time goes on. Rainwater collection bins, improved gardening techniques, and better lawn fertilizers are being developed to help decrease the amount of tap water needed to maintain a lush, full lawn.
What about you? What do you believe the future will hold for water conservation?