Are you flushing money down the drain?  According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average American uses over 100 gallons of water every day - and all of that water costs you money.  In a year, the average American family will spend $474 on their water bill.  Most of that money - 50 to 75 percent - goes toward greening lawns and gardens.  Your sprinkler and garden hose waste more water than all the showerheads in your home combined.  Leaking pipes and dripping faucets account for another 14 percent of that $474 bill.  Fortunately, you can save money on your home water bill by making a few small changes around your home. 

Kitchen/Laundry

If your dishwasher and clothes washer are on their last leg, consider replacing them with appliances that conserve water.  A low-water use dishwasher uses 4 percent less water than other models on the market, while a low-water use clothes washer lowers your water bill by 5 percent. 

Hot Water Pipes

You can also lower your water bill by insulating your home’s hot water lines.  Heat can escape through water pipes - that heat loss cools the hot water heading to your faucet.  If the pipes are insulated against heat loss, hot water will arrive at the faucet faster, so you can turn the tap off sooner.  By insulating the pipes, you can save up to 5 percent on your water bill.  You can buy insulating polyethylene pipe sleeves at most hardware stores.  To install, wrap the sleeves around any hot water pipes you can access, and secure every few feet with acrylic tape.

Bathroom

Low-water use toilets significantly reduce your water consumption, but they don’t come cheap.  If you’re not looking to spend hundreds of dollars replacing your working toilets, simply place filled water jugs in the toilet reservoir.  This simple act will reduce your household water use by 18 percent.  By installing low-flow aerators on all of your home’s faucets, you can save an additional 2 percent on your water bill.  Low-flow showerheads will cut your bill by another 12 percent.  Aerators and showerheads are popular items at hardware stores; check your weekly flyers for sales and coupons. 

Outside

Since lush green gardens drink a ton of water, you should also rethink your home’s expanse of grass.  As any homeowner knows, grass is hard to maintain.  Unless you water it frequently, it dries up and dies, and no amount of coddling or watering will ever bring it back to life.  So save yourself the hassle and the high water bill by planting drought-tolerant plants in your lawn’s place.  Visit your local garden center for advice; experts can recommend plants that will thrive in your climate and soil conditions.  But you don’t want to live in a jungle; leave room for entertaining.  Can’t afford a top-of-the-line cedar deck?  Buy a few large paving stones and a couple bags of pea gravel.  Lay the stones in a random pattern, and fill the gaps between the stones with the gravel.  The result - a beautiful, casual patio - will require less maintenance and less water than your former grassy expanse. 

 

High-tech solutions, like water-wise appliances and insulation, can reduce your water bill.  But you can reap the greatest rewards by taking the simplest measures.  Start in the shower - cutting five minutes off your shower time can save just as much water as installing a low-water use toilet.  Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, and you can save gallons of water.  And only run the dishwasher and the clothes washer when you have a full load.