September 9, 2010

Ways to Save on Your Water Bill


DripHello everyone!  Today I start the newest series on this blog called “Ways to Save”.  I’ll be looking at the different things that we all spend money on and giving some tips and ideas for how to save money in that area.  If you have any topics which you would like for me to be sure to cover, please e-mail me, and I’ll do my best to cover them.

Today, we’ll be looking at ways to save water.  While water is pretty inexpensive compared to other utilities, every little bit we use adds up.  Not only is there an impact on our wallets but also an environmental impact.

First a few do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t use the toilet as a trash can.  Flushing Q-tips and tissues not only wastes water, but it makes the water treatment process more difficult. 
  • Don’t flush medications down the toilet or rinse liquid medications down the drain.  Researchers are finding more and more chemical substances from medications in the water table, rivers, and streams.  As fish absorb these into their systems and we eat the fish, there are even more problems to be considered.  Call your city government, police station, or pharmacy to ask about medication disposal. 
  • Do have your water tested if you are concerned about contaminants.  You might be surprised at what is allowed in our water and how much more contaminated it is now as compared to years ago.
  • Do filter your water if you prefer.  For some areas, filtering your water is a must.  In other areas, it is a choice.  Decide what is right for you and your family.  I recommend opting for a faucet filter or pitcher filter rather than purchasing filtered water. 
  • Do make an effort to choose products like dishwashers and washing machines that use less water and electricity when those need to be replaced.
  • Do repair leaky faucets and toilets that run.  Make sure that water is turned off and no toilets are running before you leave the room.  If there is a problem that needs repaired, do some research on the Internet so that you might be able to do the repairs yourself.  If you don’t think you can, ask a friend and barter services.  If you need to hire a plumber, ask your network of friends and family who they might recommend so that you are sure to get someone who will do a great job.

Ways to Save Water

In the bathroom

  • Choose short showers over baths for less water usage.  If you prefer baths, though, here is a trick.  Take a shower that is timed at about 2-4 minutes and stop the drain so that the water will be held in the bathtub.  When you get out of the shower, make note of the water level.  Use a crayon to mark the tub if helpful.  When you take baths, try to stay at that level to avoid over using water.
  • Install water saving devices—aerators on the faucet in the sink and shower head, toilets with smaller tanks, and if it is in your price range, a dual flush toilet.  These toilets use less water for liquid waste and more water for solid waste and usually have two buttons to choose from to flush.  As there has become more demand for devices such as these, the prices are coming down.  Don’t forget that Home Depot and Lowe’s will both accept competitor coupons when you go to make your purchases.
  • Don’t wash your hair as often.  If you have longer hair like I do, you know that washing, rinsing, and conditioning your hair takes a long time in the shower.  If your hair isn’t as oily, try to wash your hair only every other day or even less often to reduce usage.  Frankly, I’m not as fond of this tip because my hair has always been oily.  Therefore, the bath trick mentioned above works fine for me. ;) 
  • Don’t bathe as often.  This one clearly isn’t for everybody.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awakened, bathed, changed clothes only to then go outside and get dirty again working in the garden, all because of force of habit.   Also of note--as we age our skin dries and bathing everyday isn’t as necessary. 
  • Bathe with your baby.  When our daughter was an infant, I found that I had a hard time regulating the water temperature in those table top baths.  Then I read in a Dr. Sears book about using a wet washrag to help prevent slipping and bathing with your baby.  No, I’m not talking about toddlers or older children, I’m talking about nursing babies.  The warmth of your body helps to keep them warm and the whole process is much easier than getting out all of the other bath stuff.  As always, never ever leave a baby or child alone in or near water.  If you find it tricky to manage getting out of the bath with a wet baby, you might have your spouse help you the first few times.  I always had a few extra towels laid out and ready to go for drying off.
  • Don’t run the water for sound.  Do people still run the water while brushing their teeth?  If so, stop!  Be conscious of the times when you have the water running, and make an effort to turn it off when not in direct use.

In the laundry room

  • Only run full loads of laundry.  If for some strange reason you must run a small load, be sure to adjust the water level.  Turn off the extra rinse button if you have one on your washing machine.
  • Wash by hand when you can.  When you have a new piece of clothing, there is a chance that the dyes will run in the washing machine.  For a while I would wash clothes with a dye catcher, and then I realized I could wash them by hand by using the last of the detergent from a bottle.  When you complete a bottle of liquid detergent, just like when you run out of shampoo, there is still quite a bit of soap sticking to the container.  Add a bit of water and shake. Then use that amount to wash pieces of clothing separately.  I hang them to dry in the shower (you can hang them outside if you prefer).  I never have to worry about a load of clothes being ruined by a new black or red shirt again.  Likewise, washing your lingerie or hosiery by hand helps to reduce wear and tear.
  • Reuse clothes and towels as you can.  Jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts and other sturdier materials can withstand a few wears before they need laundered.  I remember hanging my church clothes as a child right after church services and always having “play clothes” to change into when I would run and play outside.  Use your hand towels and bath towels a few times before laundering them.  Go more than the recommended week in between washing your bed linens.  Anytime you reuse clothes, you also save time, energy, and money.  One more tip in this category, use an apron when cooking.  I’m a clumsy, clumsy gal.  I can’t tell you how many clothes I’ve ruined by not wearing aprons.  Wear one to avoid spills and splatters so that you can wear clothes again if you want.

In the kitchen

  • Instead of washing fruits and vegetables under running water, use a basin.
  • I’ve heard it time and again from numerous sources that you use less energy and water when washing a full load of dishes rather than by hand
  • Reserve cooking liquid when salt isn’t added and use it to water outdoor plants.  For instance, when I’m steaming vegetables, I’ll reserve the water, let it cool, and water the plants on my porch. 
  • When boiling most foods, you only need enough water to just cover the food.  Adding extra water only wastes water and makes it take longer to heat the food, meaning it also wastes electricity or gas.  Some of the exceptions that I can think of to this rule are rice and pasta.  Raw rice is usually cooked at a proportion of 1 part raw rice to 2 parts water.  Most chefs recommend a little extra cooking water for pasta so that the starch that is released into the water doesn’t cause the pasta to stick to one another.
  • Do you have leftover glasses of water from meals?  If so, let the water set at room temperature for a few hours and then use it to water indoor or outdoor plants.


  • We use a rain barrel when we need to water the garden, potted plants, or wash off dirt from shoes, etc.
  • We try to grow plants that are adaptable to our climate to prevent the need for watering.  Ask your local garden center or phone your county’s agricultural extension agency for suggestions on plant materials that will work in your region.
  • Don’t water your lawn.  When seeding your lawn, choose grasses that do not require much upkeep.  I can think of only one time when we found it necessary to water our lawn other than when reseeding.  If for some reason you do need to water your lawn, though, let the kids put on their bathing suits and play in the sprinkler while you water. 
  • Water properly.  Don’t water the leaves of the plant, water the base.  Use soaker hoses instead of sprinklers if you must use a hose rather than hand watering. 
  • Swim at the lake, ocean, at a friend’s house, at the gym or a public pool.  We had a pool when I was a kid, and I loved it.  I love swimming, but swimming pools are also water hogs.  Think about how much water it takes just to fill them up. 
  • When filling a kiddie pool, make that water work.  When we had a kiddie pool, we would fill it with shallow water.  Then after a few days of use, we would use that water for the plants.  This kept mosquito larvae from becoming an issue and still helped us use that water for a purpose other than fun.

When away from home

  • When at a hotel and staying more than one night, opt for your bed linens not being washed and to hang your bath towels to dry
  • Patronize businesses that make an effort to use less water and energy.  Search your city for “green businesses” and see what you find.  You might be surprised at all of the places that are trying to do their part for the environment.  As an example, on my recent trip to the Bush’s Bean General Store and Visitor Center, I learned about their many eco-friendly practices.
  • Buy products that are sold in concentrate.  In particular, cleaning products have come a long way with packaging and the ways that they are made.

What other ways do you save water?  I’d love to hear your favorite tricks and tips in the comments section so that all might benefit.

1 comment:

  1. Good tips! I have been telling my husband for YEARS now that the bathroom sink has been leaking. He finally changed the faucet this weekend so I'm anxious to see if there is a change in this months water bill. You know, so I can say "told ya so".