How a few small investments can lower your water bill

(USA TODAY) -- That drip, drip, dripping sound keeping you up at night may be raising your water bill by more than you think.

Miscellaneous drips and leaks could amount to about 12% of your monthly water bill, American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance said.

“Your toilet may be having a slow leak from the tank into the bowl, and your faucet or showerhead may have a slow drip,” he said. “It sounds like a little bit but a drip after drip after drip adds up to a lot of water.”

If you’re looking to cut down on your monthly water bill, replacing a leaky faucet is just one way to get started.

The median monthly water bill in the U.S. falls at about $34.50, LaFrance said, but that number can vary widely from region to region or even city to city.

According to a study from the economic research group The Hamilton Project, water bills can range anywhere from $25 to $70 in major cities. 

But, when it comes to saving, the rules are universal: be conscientious. Water conservation and saving money go hand and hand.

A good way to look at how much water you're using and how to save is to think of each room in your house and see how you use water, says Courtney Jespersen, consumer expert for NerdWallet. 

Bathroom

The largest water usage occurs in bathrooms and can account for more than half of all the water your household uses, according to the Environmental Protection Agency

Take showers instead of baths and limit the time you spend in the shower. Savings can come from taking shorter showers and turning off the water while you’re,  brushing your teeth and shaving, Jespersen said.

If you're one of those people who loses track of time while taking a shower, Jespersen suggests buying a water proof timer to keep nearby.

Install faucet aerators that reduce water flow and efficient showerheads. LaFrance recommends that you also check your toilet for a slow leak into the bowl. 

Kitchen

Always be conscious of how long you are running water when you are washing food and dishes in the kitchen. 

If you wash dishes by hand, fill up the sink with water instead of running the water while you're washing.

Only use the dishwasher when it is full and limit the use of your garbage disposal to when it is necessary. 

Limiting loads of dishes or using the microwave instead of water to defrost food can amount to a few dollars saved in the kitchen, Jespersen advises.

Laundry room

Be smart when doing laundry. Only run the washing machine when you have a full load and utilize appropriate load size selections when possible. 

Heating the water is the most expensive part of washing, so limit your use of hot water and use warm or cold water whenever possible. 

The EPA says purchasing a more water efficient washing machine can reduce water consumption and save you money. 

A little bit of investing may go a long way, Jespersen said. Though it may seem like the more expensive route in the short run, purchasing energy efficient appliances will save consumers dollars in the long run, she said.

The EPA evaluates products’ efficiency as part of its WaterSense program.

Outdoor

LaFrance said segmenting your water bill into indoor and outdoor expenses can be a helpful mindset. 

Though water efficient sprinklers and landscaping that requires less water are some of the more obvious ways to cut down water expenses, taking stock of what you do in your yard is also important. 

“Think about how much you need to use your yard and how much of it you don’t need watered,” LaFrance said.

Water utility customers can also call their local utilities to see if they can get a free water audit, he suggested. 

During an audit, a water expert can come to a home and help find leaks or other small things that may be racking up the water bill.

Paying attention to your water usage and making many of these small adjustments can add up and help you conserve and cut your water bill down to size. 

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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