6 Ideas to Lower Your Water Bill

Summer is just around the corner, and it’s the time of year that water bills go up. We live in an area where water is EXPENSIVE. I don’t know the exact rate, as the landlord gets the bill, but if we go over 5000 gallons a month, we pay the difference.

In the winter we never go over 5000 gallons. But in the summer, watch out! We usually end up owing some money on the water bill, because we have to water the garden.

Here are some tips to conserve water and save money.

Take Showers, Not Baths

Short showers with a low-flow showerhead use less water than the average bath. The average bath uses 30-50 gallons of water, and a four minute shower in a shower with a low flow showerhead uses just 10 gallons.

If you turn off the water while shampooing, soaping up, and shaving, you can save even more water.

Turn Off the Water When Brushing Teeth

I’m sure most of you already do this, but don’t run the water while you brush your teeth or shave. Turn it off, and then turn it back on when it’s time to rinse.

Don’t Waste Water While You Wait

When you’re waiting for water to warm up to wash dishes or take a shower, don’t let the cold water go down the drain. Fill up a bucket or water can to water your garden. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and every little bit adds up.

Let Your Grass Brown Out

If you don’t care about the aesthetics of brown grass, let your grass brown out. It will green up again when the rain starts falling. Watering gardens and lawns is probably the single biggest water expense of the summer. Unless you have a pool.

Check for Leaks

A leaky faucet can be a huge water drain. If you notice a leak, fix it immediately. And if you notice your water bill go up inexplicably, check your pipes for leaks.

Only Run Full Loads

Whether dishes or laundry, only wash full loads. Don’t waste water on running a half empty load. The same goes for hand washing dishes. If you don’t have many dirty dishes, wait until after the next meal to fill up the sink with water and was.

Does your water bill go up during the summer? What do you do to conserve water?



Author

By , on May 27, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{24 Comments}

  1. OMG, how easy it is to save water!!! I bought two, 1.25 gallon coolers from Walmart. They have an “on” and “off” spout. I put one at my kitchen sink and one in the master bath. I fill a large pitcher with shower water until it gets hot….just before I shower. I set the filled pitcher aside till i am done. Then, I pour the water into the cooler. Walla, I don’t have to turn on my bathroom sink for the whole day. My kids follow suit too!

  2. I would add, 1) Get a low flow shower head that feels good, or you’ll be inclined to toss it 2) Get a low flow shower head that does not use small holes to achieve the flow limit (they clog) and 3) Don’t get one that uses aeration (cools the water so you use more heat).

  3. Jim:

    Put bricks in your toilets. You will often find that the toilet will still flush without a problem, but, when the tank refills, it will fill with less water due to the volume of the brick. Just add successive bricks until the flush quality becomes poor. You can also break a brick in half to optimize.

  4. Thanks for the tips, Lynnae!

  5. D.B.:

    I don’t have a rainbarrel, but I collect rainwater in plastic buckets and fill up used gallon milk jugs. The plants love natural rainwater.

    I use the water from my dehumidifier for watering plants also.

    I shower and wash my hair every other day, except in the hot summer. I also save on my bill by showering at the gym whenever I can do so. (The monthly fee is fixed, so why not.)

    I re-use glasses for water and clear liquids, and often re-use my coffee mugs also with only a quick rinse.

    D.B.

  6. Wow, really great tips and I don’t have much to add to it. One thing that you should remember is with the square foot garden, you should be able to give each plant about a cup a day. You just ladle it right onto the roots of the plant. I love the rain barrel idea and if I had gutters, I would use one to water my garden as it is, I use the left over water from the animals. I have to empty the water troughs every few days anyway so I just grab a bucket and go.

  7. Why not get a rain barrel? It might be a little late in the season to fill it up now, but a couple of those will definitely help with watering plants and gardens.

    Or find a way to re-use grey water. If you do dishes in a tub in the sink, throw the water in the garden instead of down the drain.

  8. Great tips. I only shower every other day also, since I am not a “sweat-er” and I have found that my hair always looks better the 2nd day. :-)

    Now that we do not pay for water in the place that we rent, I am not as conservative with water as I used to be. ( I must admit that it is great being able to wash clothes whenever I want and run the dishwasher every evening…..!)

  9. Lise:

    Consider xeriscaping: landscaping for your climate zone, with indiginous plants that survive without additional watering. They’re adapted to whatever water falls naturally! You can do it bit by bit every year, so that the expense of re-doing your landscape doesn’t hit all at once, but it’s really worth it!

    I also don’t flush at night, have significantly reduced the number of laundry loads by smarter shopping, shower every 2nd day, etc. etc.

    Every little bit counts.

  10. Jenny:

    I’m growing a large container garden on the deck of my apartment, and I’ve made it a goal to use as little “un-recycled” water on it as possible. Here are my tips:

    1. When washing dishes by hand, place a bowl under the faucet to catch the water used for rinsing. This, along with the dishwater itself, can be used for watering plants, since I use all-natural dish soap.

    2. Water left over from boiling vegetables goes into the watering can on the deck for future use.

    3. I keep a pitcher in the kitchen for any “left over” water: water left in the bottom of water glasses or flower vases, etc.

    4. I’m looking into setting up a rain barrel and ways to recycle water from my baths (other than carting the water from the bathroom to the porch in a pitcher).

    One more way I save water: I don’t flush the toilet all the time, unless I know guests are coming over. I read this somewhere in an article about conserving natural resources: “If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” It’s gross, but saves water and money!

  11. Jane:

    Thanks for starting this all, Lynnae.
    There’s some fabtastic tips here on saving water & we need all we can get, here down under.

  12. Super great tips here!
    When washing clothes you could also use a lower temperature, or at least rinse on cold. You could use a shorter wash time too.
    When boiling potatoes or other vegetables, save the water. When it cools, use it to water your plants. Hey, they might even grow fuller! :)

  13. One thing that I do to save water and money is run my front load washing machine on the delicate cycle for every load except the really dirty ones. I figure that the clothes I wear to work really can’t get that dirty. My clothes end up coming out clean! :)

  14. Bonnie:

    I used to use a lot of water. But about 2 years ago, I realized that we can’t all just act like our resources are infinite and cost is the smallest of reasons to conserve.

    Here are my tips:

    Use less water rinsing dishes:
    I leave a pot of soapy water in the sink (its a large pot, but not as large as my sink). When a dish is dirty, I dunk it in the pot and then load it in the dish washer. If the dish has stuck on food, it goes in the pot until the food can be scrubbed off with a bush later. This saves the water running every time you have a dish that needs to be rinsed. I use a total of one pot of water per day, and run the dishwasher every other day. Often my husband will say the dishwasher is full, but I will come in and re-arrange it and it’s good for another 1/2 day. (dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand, but only if you don’t use tons of water rinsing the dishes).

    Bathe every third day:
    After I noticed that when I had my hair cut at the salon that I tried to avoid showering for a day or too to keep the salon look, I realized I probably don’t need to shower ever day, unless I was sweating all over. So now, I take a bath every 3rd day and wash in the sink with a wash cloth every morning. Interestingly enough, my hair and skin look better, and only washing my hair every 3 days gives me incentive to spend extra time making it look nice with the straight iron.

    Plant food instead of flowers:
    I used to have a container garden that was all flowers, but then I realized, that while the flowers are beautiful, I could be recapturing some of the water if I were planting food, because at least some of the water is returned to you when you eat the food. And if you think of water as s resource it makes sense to turn it into another resource.

    Mopping the floors:
    I used to use a big bucket of water when moping the kitchen. But now, I use a microfiber mop and wet it, then cover the whole floor. If there were some spots I could not get up. I use a sponge to attack them, then I wet another mop head (I have several), and cover the floor again. Then I use another mop head to dry the floor. This uses a total of 2 cups of water. The wet mop heads can go in the washing machine when you was the rags and such. The mop head you used to dry the floor should be relatively clean and can just be dried and used to mop the floor next time.

  15. Man, we stink! I went and looked at my water bills, and we use about the same amount of water per month year round, but it is generally over 5000 gallons a month (about 5500 to 6000).

    Eeeek…

  16. Great tips! We live in Georgia, which is currently experiencing a drought, so these tips are also very useful in conserving water.

    You can also save your dish rinsing water to water plants. And put a bucket in the shower and save the water to flush toilets with.

    Every little bit helps!

  17. How about putting a 5 gallon bucket in the corner of the shower and when it fills up, use the water on your indoor plants.

  18. marci:

    I have my young grandkids a lot.
    We have a kitchen timer for the bathroom.
    5 minutes and it goes off. They know to
    quickly get the rest of the shampoo/soap off
    and step out of the shower. Works fairly well.

    Double reason – they know if they take too much
    time, there will not be enough hot water for
    all of them. They don’t like hearing about it from the others if they take too long.

    I will be setting up a 55 gallon drum dual rainbarrel system when I get the gutters on the addition to the house. I’ll use them for the garden. I don’t water the lawn… altho on the rainy Oregon coast that is usually not a problem anyway :)

  19. jill, Chicago:

    One caveat about the showers: your measurements of gallons used are AVERAGE. In a household with two preteens, the showers are often way longer than average (I didn’t realize before motherhood that showering has a learning curve!). I measured the water usage of the kids’ showers by stopping the drain for both showers, and they use as much as half a bathtub full per kid! Plus, a good dunking in a hot bath takes less time. We’ve always doubled up on baths (dirtiest kid goes last), and our old cast iron tub holds the heat for hours. I do have another laundry tip: I use the water collected in the dehumidifier to fill the washer, instead of pouring it away. Also, our washer drains into a double sink, where I can collect the final rinse water in a large bucket. I then use that water to fill the next load. My mom used to have a nifty extra tub called a “suds saver” that did the same thing, but I haven’t seen one for years. And don’t forget to collect your roof rainwater, too.

  20. I find that if I wait to shower and work out first, then I spend less time in the shower and I use less hot water. I don’t do it every day.

  21. Great list, Lynnae! One thing to add to the outdoor watering…I see so many people running sprinklers in the hottest part of the day because they think that’s when their lawns really need it. In fact, during the hottest part of the day most surface-level moisture evaporates. Much better to water first thing in the morning before the sun has had time to heat things up.

  22. Herbert:

    If you’re just lazing about the house all day, it really doesn’t matter if you take a shower. A quick rinse will wake you up well enough, and I find it keeps your skin from drying out. I know very few people dirty enough (besides children) that strictly daily showers are imperative for cleanliness.

    I was in Switzerland several years ago in a cheap hotel, and they have a very good way for keeping showers short – it cost 5F for 5 minutes of hot water. After that (and with no warning, mind you) it would turn off the heat, and glacier-cold water would blast you.

    What I’ve always wondered was what’s cheaper: washing dishes by hand or in the dishwasher? I would imagine washing them by hand, since I have to wash the pots by hand anyway, but since with only two people in the apartment I only run the dishwasher once a week about, I’m never quite sure.

    Also, does giving things like dedicated juice/milk glasses and cereal bowls only a brief rinse between uses and reusing them throughout the week (what my boyfriend does) save water, or is he just being lazy?

    Thanks!

  23. Kristen:

    Great tips, Lynnae. Here’s another thought to anyone who is in the market for a new washing machine — The new front-load models save a lot of water. They use anywhere from to 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of a regular washing machine (and they use less soap). The model we have actually fills up based on the amount of clothes; so you’re never using more water than you need, especially if you do have to wash a small load. And because there’s no agitator in the center, they’re much more gentle on your clothing, which keeps them looking nicer for longer!

    I have to admit that I hate low-flow shower heads. I love good water pressure in the shower. Pluse, I have long hair, and I find that I spend even more time in the shower trying to rinse the shampoo out of my hair.

  24. We keep the outside hose turned off in the basement so the kids can’t play with it unless we turn it on. I will tell you, that saves us more money than anything. :)

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