As the warmer months of summer approach, water is on everyone's mind. Swimming in the pool, water fights with your kids in the yard, and floating down the river in innertubes are just a few of the activities you probably enjoy during this wonderful time of the year. Do you ever stop to think about how you use your residential water though? After all, you need it to cook, clean, stay hydrated, and water your yard and garden. In a time where water is scarce in many parts of the country, it's worth making an effort to use this precious resource responsibly. Not only is doing so good for the environment, it can save you countless dollars on your water bill at the end of every month.
Take Shorter Showers
When you've been outside working or playing all day in the hot sun, nothing is more refreshing than taking a shower to wash the sweat and grime off your body. Studies have found that if you reduce your time in the shower by as little as four minutes, you can save upward of 4,000 gallons of water per year and over $100 on your water bill. Getting in and getting out quickly will also save money on other utility bills like electricity and gas. You can also choose to get a lower flow shower head, which when combined with a shorter shower time can save considerable water and power.
Try Not to Hand Wash Dishes
If you're fortunate enough to have a dishwasher in your home, use it. A full load of dishes in the dishwasher uses only 1/5 the water as washing the same load by hand. While it's certainly reasonable to soak pots and pans and wash them by hand, doing a full load of dishes in the dishwasher not only saves water but is less work as well. And remember, be patient and wait for a full load before you wash those dishes; too many small, incomplete loads will also waste water.
Do Full Loads of Laundry
Just like your dishwasher, your washing machine uses a healthy amount of water with each load. There's nothing wrong with washing whites and colors separately, but make an effort to have a full load each time you go to start your washer. Making this a habit will positively affect your water bill.
Don't Let the Water Run
When you're shaving or brushing your teeth, it's a good idea to only turn on the water to wet your toothbrush or razor. After all, what's the point of having water run while your toothbrush is in your mouth? Even though these tasks don't consume the same amount of water as a load of laundry, every little bit helps in lowering your bill. A lower flow aerator, combined with turning the water off until needed, can save considerable water compared to letting it run.
Check Your Water Meter
You never know where you might find leaks in your home, especially if your plumbing is a little dated. Leaks can run constantly and dramatically increase your bill. To test your meter, find a two‐hour period when no water will be used inside your home. Check the amount displayed at the beginning of the period and again at the end. If the meter reading has changed, you likely have a significant leak that is costing you money and needs to be addressed right away.
Consider a Point‐of‐Use Water Heater
When you take a shower or do the dishes, you're probably used to turning on the water and waiting for it to warm up. For the cost of as little as a couple hundred dollars, installing a point‐of‐use hot water heater allows you to turn on the tap and have hot water almost instantly. This is especially nice during the cold winter months too, when you're cold and want to jump right into a hot shower. Alternatively, you can add a hot water circulating system that can let you have hot water in mere seconds at nearly all of your fixtures.
Watering Your Yard and Garden
There's nothing better than having a well‐manicured lawn and garden. It's always a good feeling when your neighbors walk by and comment on how nice your landscaping looks. If you want to save money on your water bill though, take the time to consider how you can most efficiently water your grass and plants. Is there a low spot in your yard where water gathers that always seems to be soaked? Would watering that dry spot by hand be more efficient than running a full sprinkler cycle? And what about your plants — do some need less water than others? Check into changing some sprinklers to drip irrigation and only water the plants and shrubs, not the dirt or weeds.
Take Your Car to the Carwash
Let's say that you wash your car once a month. If you do it by hand instead of at a car wash that recycles water, you could be using up to 100 extra gallons of water. By going to the carwash instead, you're saving money on your water bill and doing the environment a huge a favor too.
Life is busy, especially in the summer when the kids are out of school and there seem to be endless activities to enjoy. By all means, you should relish your chance to play in the water and create memories with family and friends that last a lifetime. If you make an effort to think about how you can make better use of water in your daily life by implementing some of the practices above however, you'll have more money to spend on the things you enjoy most at the end of every month AND you'll be conserving our most valuable resource.