The summer season can take a toll on your water bill if you water your lawn or garden, or have a pool, but an ignored leaky faucet or high volume toilet will cost you year round.
Angie's List, the nation’s premier provider of consumer reviews
on local service companies, conducted a nationwide poll and found nearly half of the respondents said the cost of water affects how much they use, and most of them are looking for ways to cut back and save. Experts estimate 11,000 gallons of water per U.S. household each year are wasted due each year to running toilets, dripping faucets and other leaks.
Some Angie’s List members report saving more than $20 a month by fixing leaks, upgrading to low-flow toilets and watering smarter. One member replaced a washing machine with a front loading model and watched and the water bill dropped 25 percent. Only 7 percent of members said they aren’t cutting back on water consumption.
“Watering lawns and gardens accounts for up to 50 percent of residential water consumption during the summer, and too many homeowners are watering during the heat of the day, which really doesn’t help the lawn much at all,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. “Something as simple watering during the morning or evening, or fixing a leaky faucet will bring you daily savings that will add up fast.”
Angie’s List tips to use water smarter and save:
Out in the yard:
In your home:
- Water your lawn either in the morning or evening – watering during the day is less efficient because of evaporation. Water as needed, but on a weekly, rather than daily basis. Use straight-edged container, such as a tuna can, to determine how long you need to run the sprinkler. Put the can under your sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill that glass an inch. That’s how long you need to water.
- Plant native grasses and plants, which can survive on limited amounts of water. While establishing any new landscape requires more water in the first year or so, a water-wise landscape will require about 20 percent to 50 percent less water from start to maturity.
- Protect your plants with mulch. It helps conserve water by trapping moisture and keeping the soil cool.
- If you’re asked to conserve water, don’t panic. Lawns can actually survive a few months without water, and they will recover quickly once rain returns. Just as lawns turn brown from extreme water shortages, they will also return to their natural thick green state when conditions improve - usually in the fall.
- Check your irrigation system to make sure everything is working properly. Repair or replace broken or damaged nozzles or heads, which can wreak havoc on your landscape and water bill. Make sure sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.
- Consider a rain barrel to conserve water and put some extra money in your pocket. A rain barrel connects to your gutters and collects water as it rolls off your roof, then stores it for when you need in – to water plants, wash your car or top off your swimming pool.
- If you have a pool, cover it up. Pool covers help reduce evaporation. Also check your pool periodically for leaks.
1,237 Angie’s List members responded to the online poll.
- Fix leaks. A sink or bathroom leak may be obvious, but some leaks, like those close to water lines, may not be seen or heard initially. And don’t forget to check your outdoor faucets, either. If your water bill dramatically and unexpectedly increases from one bill to the next, check your consumption and have your lines inspected. Another great test, add a few drops of food coloring to your toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl after about a half hour, you have a leak. Be sure to clean the bowl afterwards so it doesn’t stain.
- A water audit is also a great way to check for leaks. An auditor will check your water connections, toilets and faucets for leaks. He or she will also evaluate your home’s water use and suggest ways to make it more efficient. Some municipal utilities even offer free water audits.
- Faucets, showers and toilets combined represent two-thirds of all indoor water use. Consider replacing those as they age, with low-flow fixtures to conserve water and save money. For example, a WaterSense-labeled showerhead uses less than two gallons of water per minute.
- If your clothes washer and dishwasher are reaching their life cycle, consider replacing with a more energy efficient model. Energy Star-qualified washers use at least 50 percent less water than regular washers. If your dishwasher was built before 1994, you could be wasting up to 8 gallons of water per cycle compared to a new model.
- Take a short shower instead of taking a bath. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
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