Step 1: Fix plumbing leaks
If you’ve noticed that your water bill has been steadily climbing, it may be time to start thinking about ways to save and conserve water. However, buying appliances that are more water
efficient is one of the last places to start
cutting water usage. The No. 1 cause of
a rising water/sewer bill is a leak somewhere
in the house (10 percent of all
homes have a leak of at least 90 gallons
per day). And the No. 1 culprit is a running
toilet. Toilet parts usually start
leaking slowly and get worse over time.
So by the time you notice it, months
may have passed. When you consider
that a leaking toilet can cost you almost
$45 per month for water and sewer, it
makes sense to fix any leaky toilets in
your house before anything else.
Leaking flappers and deteriorated
beveled washers are the most common
failure points. The parts are cheap (less
than $5), so the payback is enormous.
Replace them all annually to eliminate
a very real water-wasting potential
Step 2: Replace the toilet
Even if your toilet isn’t leaking, it’s
probably still wasting water. Consider
these water-wasting facts: If your house
was built before 1980, the original toilet
is wasting $170 every year. If it’s
newer (1980–1994), it’s wasting $99 a
year. A new WaterSense–rated toilet
costs as little as $100. So that’s the fixture
to replace first because the payback
is huge! Some utilities are even
offering rebates to sweeten the deal.
Visit http://epa.gov/watersense/rebate_finder_saving_money_water.html to find
rebates in your area.
Step 3: Install water-saving showerheads
Next on the fast payback list is a
water-saving showerhead. Many older
(pre-1992) showerheads had a flow rate
of as much as 5.5 gallons per minute. A
WaterSense–rated head must use no
more than 2.0 gpm. But you can buy
super-efficient showerheads that provide
a vigorous shower using only 1.5
gpm. The Oxygenics 630-XLF15 is one
model (about $26 from ).
The showerhead sucks in air from
around the spray nozzle and uses it to
pressurize the shower stream. The
water and energy savings make this a one-month payback.
Back to Top
Step 4: Buy a front-loading clothes washer
I purposely left out new front-loading clothes washers, even though they use half the water of older top-loaders. They’re a great choice if you’re in the
market for a new washer. But don’t buy a new efficient washer until you’ve replaced your toilets and showerheads. The payback on a front-loading washer is a lengthy 5.8 years.
Photo courtesy of assuredautomation.comWater meter
Money-Saving Tip: Reduce Sewer Charges
Few know this, but you pay twice for
water—once when it enters your house
and again when it goes down the sewer.
The water meter doesn’t know that the
water you use for irrigating never goes
down the sewer. Ask your water/sewer
utility if it has a “deduct” program for
lawn sprinkling. If so, you can track the
amount of water you use for irrigation
and deduct that volume from your
sewer bill. You’ll still have to pay for
the water. But since it doesn’t go down
the drain, it can save you a bundle on
the sewer portion of the bill. Of course,
you’ll have to replumb your hose bibs
and water sprinkler system through a
separate meter to prove your deduction.
Water meters are a bit of work to install,
but they’re cheap (the meter
shown, the WM75, costs about $77