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What to Do When Your Water & Sewer Bill Soars

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by Harriet Bond
(San Francisco, CA, USA)

Save water and you not only save money but also conserve one of our planet’s most valuable natural resource. It’s like getting paid twice. Water conservation is one of the easiest things to do if you have a little discipline but it’s so easy to turn on the faucet and let the water run.

The first thing you know gallons of water have gone down the drain and with it your money. You can actually save a third time because most sewer charges are based on the amount of water used.

Let’s take a look at the amount of water used daily for a family of four. Bathing or showering uses the most at about 80 gallons. Showering accounts for 30% of total water usage in the home.

Laundry uses about half that, dishwashing 15, cooking and drinking 12 and for the big surprise, four people can flush down over 100 gallons of water a day. Including miscellaneous use the total rounds out to 250 gallon a day or 7,500 gallons per month. That’s a lot of water. What can you do to save?

Make sure your commode doesn’t leak. Listen carefully for the tiniest dripping sound.
If it’s old you might want to buy a new water saving model. Or, place something plastic inside the tank to displace the amount of water being flushed.

Use only as much water taking a bath as you need. A full tub is fun but not necessary. For showering use a low-flow showerhead. Get wet; turn off the water and soap. Turn water back on and rinse. When shaving or brushing your teeth, don’t run water during the entire task. Running water while brushing for two minutes can waste up to four gallons of water.

Most washers use up to 60 gallons per load so use load settings on the smallest possible. Permanent press cycles use a third more water than the regular cycle so use that feature judiciously.

Run your dishwasher only when full. The amount of water used is the same regardless of how many dishes you wash. At the sink, use hot water only when needed. You waste a lot of water waiting for the hot water to reach the faucet

Lawns are more resilient than you think so water lawns and gardens only when necessary. Mulch around plants to hold moisture. Water either early or late to prevent evaporation during the heat of the day.

A soaker hose conserves more water than a sprinkler and gets to the roots better. Native grasses and plants require much less water. Use a broom or blower to clean your sidewalks.

Don’t wash them down with water. If you wash your car, don’t let the water run continuously. Get a hose brush that has an on/off water switch. Wash your car on the grass to water it with runoff from your car.

Repair drippy faucets. The smallest drip can waste over 300 gallons a month. Check both inside and outside faucets. If you can’t fix it right away, place a container to catch the drip water and use it to water plants or clean floors. Encourage your family to be water misers andyour bank account will remain more liquid.

Updated: January 9, 2014 — 5:13 am

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