9 Costly Mistakes That Increase Your Water Utility Bill

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Are you drowning in a water bill that's just too high? Some things will always be on your water bill—you need water—but there are definitely ways you can lower your utility costs. Chances are you're making a few of these expensive mistakes that are driving your water bill up month after month.

Sprinkler Settings

If you run your sprinklers at noon, when the summer sun is highest in the sky, you’ll use much more water than you need to get the lawn nice and soaked. The hot sun will cause the water to evaporate at a higher rate, and you’ll have to run the sprinklers longer to get the grass adequately watered.

Instead, water your grass and plants later in the day, or early in the morning. Watering while the sun is low and it’s not hot outside will ensure your grass gets lots of water and that you’re not using too much. We generally recommend morning watering because it's still cooler outside, but check with your local parks and recreation office for recommendations on the best times to water.

Make sure your sprinklers aren't running for too long regardless of the time of day. Check on exactly how much water your specific type of grass needs. Overwatering can lead to some lawn problems as well as bringing mosquitos and other pests to your yard.

No Aerators

aerator nozzle attachments

Not having aerators on your faucets can add dollars to your water bill each month. Adding an aerator to your faucet is a good idea if you want to save water because it adds bubbles to the water meaning that the faucets can run longer and use less water.

Aerators are inexpensive to install, and they can make a big difference in your overall water consumption. Consider adding an aeration system to sink faucets around your home, but skip aerators on showerheads or hose connectors. There are better ways to reduce water consumption there.

You can purchase a faucet with an aerator already installed, or you can sometimes add one to an existing faucet. Check your local hardware store for an aerator and an installation tool.

If your aerator can be removed, make sure to clean it twice a year, especially if you live in an area with hard water. The hard water can easily build up in the device and hinder its ability to actually add bubbles to your water.

Leak Check

leaking plumbing line

If you feel like you've seen a big spike in your water bill that's not normally there, and you haven't changed any of your water consumption habits, you may have a leak in a pipe or appliance. A leak in your home, even a small leak, can lead to tons of water damage and a water bill climbing through the roof.

If you suspect you have a leak, start with the regular culprits. Check out all your kitchen appliances, your washing machine, and all the sinks around your home. The pipes attached to the appliances will be easy to find, and you should be able to quickly see if you've got a leak there.

If there's no leak there, you're going to need to check other pipes throughout the home, which can be a little more difficult. Look for signs of a leak in your floor and ceiling to point you in the right direction.

If you find a leak, you're going to want to take care of it immediately because water damage is a time-consuming and costly fix. If you’ve got a leak, and you don't catch it fast, you can end up with damage to your drywall, floors, ceiling, and home furnishings. Plus, your water bill will stay high until you either fix it or shut off the water to that part of the house.

Water Heater Exchange

An older water heater isn’t just slow to warm the water in your home, it could be the culprit leading to more charges on your water bill. As a general rule, like most old appliances, old water heaters use more water than modern appliances.

Water heaters in particular can start using more and more water as they age. You can upgrade your water heater to see a decrease in your water bill, or even go with a completely tankless water heater that will definitely make a dent in your water bill.

Tankless water heaters are somewhat new to the water heating world but are a great option for people who want to save on their water bill.

Appliance Upgrade

old appliance electronics

And while we're on the subject, you should probably consider updating old appliances that use water. The older the appliance, the less effective its use of water will be. And a more water-conscious appliance means a smaller water bill for you.

If you don't know how old your dishwasher or washing machine is, look for an identifying sticker on the outside the machine or inside the door. If your machine is older than ten years old, do some research and see just how much water it's using. Compare the water usage of your current machine to a newer make or model and calculate how much water you'll save every year.

Energy Star appliances are certified to be better about water usage and consumption. If you want to upgrade to something you know is going to be more water-wise, look for appliances that are Energy Star certified. The bonus with these appliances is that they'll likely save you a little on your electricity bill as well.

Leaky Lateral Line

exterior main water line

The lateral line connects your home to city water, and sometimes that line can leak. It's difficult to tell if your lateral line is leaking, but if your bill keeps creeping up and you know that you're not using more water than normal, you will need to call a professional to come to check your lateral line.

Because sometimes these lateral lines cross other properties and are buried deep, it's important that you contact the water company or the city, and use a professional to check for leaks. Tampering with a lateral line is no job for a first-time DIYer.

Toilet Troubles

Toilets are another item that can usually be run more efficiently. One small improvement that's easy to make is to place an object in your toilet's tank, like a brick or an old milk jug full of water. Raising the water level in the back of the toilet means it will refill faster, using less water with every flush.

You can also purchase a much more efficient toilet for your home. Again, in general, newer toilets use a lot less water than old models. Even if you're considering purchasing a bidet, which does use water for flushing and cleaning purposes, you can still purchase a water-conscious variety.

If your toilet is constantly running, or leaks a lot, it may just be time to replace it with a water-smart alternative. Water-wise toilets won't break the bank—you can find options that reduce water usage in any budget range.

Your local hardware store should be able to help you select the right toilet and start you on the path to toilet installation if you're looking to DIY the project.

Beat the Heat

dripping water on air conditioner tube

Most people see a spike in their water bill in the summer. And it's not just filling up pools and running sprinklers—if you have an air conditioning unit that uses water as part of its cooling system, your water bill will rise with the temperatures.

If you want to lower your water bill in the summer, adopt some water-conscious habits and try to be more mindful about how you were using water. Take a day or two and know every time that water is used in your house, and don't forget places like appliances and your air conditioning unit.

Once you can see where water is being used the most, you can make more mindful choices about how to reduce your water bill. But, as a general rule, you can also just brace yourself for higher water usage in the summer and remind yourself that you'll balance it out somewhat with lower water usage in the winter.

Water Wise Habits

Adopting a few basic water-wise habits will really help out in the long run. Take short showers, don't leave the faucet running when you don't need it to be running, invest in water-wise appliances, and double up on the usage for water when you can.

For example, we will hard boil our eggs in water on the stove and then use that water to water our plants because the nutrients from the eggshells make the water great for our plans, and we're not dumping water down the drain. There are lots of handy hacks like that to make sure that water is going the extra mile.

If you live in an area that's drought-prone, make sure that you follow all local laws regarding water usage. Don't water your lawn if you're asked not to water your lawn, use shower heads that released the appropriate amount of water, and make changes to your water habits based on the climate that you're in. If it comes down to it, watering your lawn is a luxury, not a necessity of life.

And speaking of watering the lawn, alternative lawn styles can make a major reduction in water use. We recently replaced a chunk of our lawn with Creeping Thyme, a plant that's green and lush, but does not require nearly as much water in the area that we live in.

We also implemented more hardscaping into our yard as a way of conserving water because we live in a drought-prone area. Making little changes like this will save you money on your water bill, and help save our drinking water.

Digging a Well

If you really want to go extreme, you can look into drilling your own well, if you live in an area where that's allowed. We live in an area of the country where many of our neighbors have their own wells and supply their own water to their homes.

You do have to get a permit, and you have to have professional help drilling the well, and it's not cheap (you can expect to pay something between $4,000 and $15,000 on average), but it does leave you in a position where you can make your own water choices, and either drastically reduce or potentially even eliminate your water bill.