The average Arizonan uses about 120 gallons of water per day. In the summer months, this usage spikes as we spend more time indoors or use water for recreation and relief from the sweltering temperatures. However, even small changes can help bring your water usage down and save some money in the process. Here are five easy ways to use less water and save on your water bill this summer.
Before you can start saving water, it’s helpful to get a clear picture of exactly how, when, and where your household is using the most water. That’s where the City of Phoenix comes in; they’ve created a water usage calculator that generates a usage report with an estimate of your total indoor and outdoor water usage. Once you have your usage report, you can decide which areas you want to address. For example, if your usage report shows that you use a large portion of your water by running the dishwasher multiple times per week, you may try to run it just once or twice instead.
From dripping faucets to running toilets, plumbing leaks of all sizes can waste gallons upon gallons of water every day. This waste can add up quickly—in fact, one leaking faucet can cost you up to $35 a year on top of your normal water bills.
The easiest way to confirm a leak is to check the leak indicator located on your water meter. Generally, you’ll find your water meter in front of your house near the front curb, in a concrete box marked “water”. The leak indicator may look like a small triangular dial. If the dial is moving, there’s a leak. If you don’t have a leak indicator, there’s another easy way to figure out if the leak is located in your main water line. First, shut off the water in your home, and make note of the reading shown on your water meter. Wait two hours and read the meter again. If the meter reading increased, you’re dealing with a leak.
Sometimes, the cause of a leak is as simple as a loose screw or an older pipe. While you’re troubleshooting the cause of a leak, or waiting for a plumber to come fix it, you can stop further water waste with quick DIY fixes. The smallest leaks can be stopped by wrapping the leaking area with duct tape, while larger leaks are easily addressed with epoxy putty or pipe wraps.
Some signs of plumbing supply leaks include puddles or water stains under the sink, or water stains on the ceiling of the room below. A strong sewer gas smell around the sink can also indicate a leak.
If you suspect you have a plumbing supply leak, locate the shutoffs and connections under your sink. Since the leaks are likely too small for your eyes to see, take a paper towel and wipe each fixture under the sink. If you notice a wet spot on the towel, you’ve located your leak.
In kitchen and bathroom sinks, leaks can occur either in the drain itself or in the slip joints in the drain pipe. To locate the leak, turn the sink on and let it fill with water. Then, as it drains, check for leaks by wiping all parts of the pipe under your sink with a dry paper towel.
If you’re concerned about a small puddle at the base of your water heater, the cause may not be a leak, but normal condensation instead. But if the puddle grows larger, it’s probably a leak.
If the water heater is leaking from the top, the leak may be coming from the drain valve, which is a relatively easy fix for a professional. However, if the heater is leaking from the bottom, it may be due to sediment build up and corrosion—which may require you to replace the heater altogether.
To identify other types of water leaks, look out for things like warping and discoloration on your ceilings, floors, and walls. Places like the bottom of your sink cabinet or the base of your bathtub are a good place to start. The presence of a musty odor, or the growth of mold and mildew, can also indicate that a leak is present nearby. The only way to know for sure is to cut into the walls, which is a job best left to a professional plumber.
It goes without saying, but one of the best ways to reduce your water bill is to use less water in the first place. This may sound easier said than done, but even the smallest changes in your day-to-day routine can make a big impact.
One easy way to save water in the shower is to turn off the water while you lather up your hair, or while shaving. You can fill up a few cups of water before turning off the shower if you need to rinse your razor or re-wet your hair. Then, once you’re done, you can turn the water back on. This method saves a significant amount of water as the shower won’t be running when it doesn’t need to be.
Another way to save water every time you shower is to focus on getting in and getting out quickly. Reducing the time of your shower by just four minutes can save nearly 4,000 gallons of water a year. To keep track of time, consider setting a timer or an alarm to remind you when it’s time to wrap things up.
Washing dishes and doing laundry are two of the most water-intensive household chores. Changing up some common habits can help you save a significant amount of water, which will in turn save you a significant amount of money.
First and foremost, to reduce your laundry room water usage, you’ll need to reduce the amount of laundry loads you do. Washing a full load of laundry is far more water-efficient than washing two or three smaller loads throughout the week. Try to set aside a dedicated “laundry day” and wash everything then. If you must wash a smaller load, take advantage of your washer’s “small load” setting if it has one. Pre-treating stains before a wash can also save water, since you won’t need to rely on a heavy cycle to scrub them away—a normal cycle will do the job.
Contrary to what you may assume, hand-washing dishes uses more water than using the dishwasher. The math behind this is simple. The average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle, and water tends to flow from a faucet at a rate of two gallons per minute. So, if it takes you longer than three minutes to wash your dishes, it’s best to just use the dishwasher.
Since water evaporates quickly under the mid-day desert sun, it’s best to water your yard early in the morning or later on in the evening. Irrigation systems use less water than sprinklers, and many cities in Arizona offer rebates and incentives if you choose to install one. To save the most water, you can landscape your yard with drought-resistant and low-water-usage plants, such as:
New energy-efficient appliances and fixtures can significantly lower your water bill. From washing machines to shower heads, today’s appliances and plumbing fixtures use less water and less energy while still delivering the results you need.
Low-flow shower heads and faucets can help you save a considerable amount on your monthly water bill. By restricting water flow through smaller holes, these water-saving devices are designed to maintain the same amount of water pressure while using far less water than traditional fixtures. In fact, some low-flow fixtures can save as much as 2 gallons a minute. The best part is, low-flow fixtures aren’t necessarily more expensive than traditional ones, and they’re just as easy to install.
You can save nearly 13,000 gallons of water a year by upgrading to a high-efficiency toilet. This translates to major water bill savings. With strategic design and the latest plumbing technology, high-efficiency toilets rely on gravity or vacuum mechanisms to use less water while still washing away waste. A high-efficiency toilet uses 1.28 gallons per flush, which is far less than traditional toilets, that can use anywhere from 1.6 to 3.5 gallons per flush.
Our team of expert plumbers are ready to help you with all your summertime plumbing needs. Whether you need us to fix a pesky leaking faucet or install a new low-flow shower system, we’re here to help with valley-wide service. And, if plumbing emergencies strike after hours, you can call our emergency plumbing services for help 365 days a year. Contact us so we do our part to keep your summer going smoothly.