What To Do When Your Water & Sewer Bill Soars

By Margaret Burgess

Helping the planet is another reason to conserve water. It's like a double reward. 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 see how much water a family of four uses in one day. Only about 80 gallons are used to bathe or shower. Showering accounts for 30% of total water usage in the home.

You use about half that amount for laundry, 15 for doing dishes, 12 for cooking and drinking, and, believe it or not, almost 100 gallons a day for flushing! All these amounts total to about 250 gallons a day, the equivalent of 7,500 gallons a month. It sure is a lot of water. Can you do something to help conserve water?

You should ensure first of all that your commode is not leaking. Listen carefully for the tiniest dripping sound. If your model is old, you might want to think of buying a new model which conserves water. Displacing the water inside the tank could also be helpful.

Use less water to bathe. You don't need a full tub of water. Try to 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. 30% more water is used in permanent press cycles, so don't use this cycle often.

Wait until your dishwasher is full before you run it. The amount of water used is the same regardless of how many dishes you wash. Curb the amount of hot water you use at the sink. You waste a lot of water while you wait for it to heat up.

Don't water your lawn too often. If you place mulch around plants they will stay moist longer. And only water early or late in the day to avoid losing water through evaporation.

A soaker hose is a better choice than a sprinkler. Native grasses and plants require much less water. Use a broom or blower to clean your sidewalks.

Avoid washing your sidewalks. Turn off the water while you wash your car. You can buy a hose brush with an on and off switch. If you wash your car on the grass, you can use the runoff water to wet your grass.

Repair drippy faucets. Up to 300 gallons a month can be lost from a small drip. All faucets should be checked, inside and outside. If you find a leaking faucet, and you can't fix it right away, you should at least try to collect the water that leaks. Encourage your family to be water misers and your bank account will remain more liquid.

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