As the heat of summer is slowly rolling in, and the drought of last year is still in our near term memory, I am reminded each month how much I spent on my water bills last year. Since moving into my house, last year I used more water per month than I ever had in the any of the previous eights years. Part of the issue was that I continued to water my lawn 5 days a week during the heat of the summer, but I wasn't willing to let my lawn suffer! For even a thrifty guy some things are more important than saving a few dollars, and for me that is taking pride in my lawn.
Despite my Achilles heal of taking care of my lawn, there is more to your water bill, than just what your sprinklers do during the summer. Both in and outside of your home there are ways for you to save money on your monthly water bill. Here are few of my ideas to save ya some money during the hot summer months this year.
[caption id="attachment_2078" align="alignright" width="300"] Edgestar Cycle Lengths[/caption]
- Speed Cycle on Your Dishwasher – when I first moved into our current home I noticed that it had a “Speed Cycle”, which was the shortest and most water efficient cycle. On average most speed cycles run for about one hour (depending on your make and model), and most “Heavy Load” cycles run anywhere from 1 1/2 hours up to 3 1/2 hours. By pre-scrubbing your dishes and using the speed cycle, then you'll greatly reduce your water consumption and energy usage as well.
- Switch Out Your Shower Head – now anytime I recommend people switch out their shower head I feel like it's an episode of Seinfeld and soon I'll be self endorsing [caption id="attachment_2079" align="alignright" width="300"] Kitchen Aid Cycle Lengths[/caption]
the Commando 450 (geez that episode is funny!!! HAHA). Really though, a lot of people will benefit from utilizing “low flow” showerheads and help lower your monthly water bill. Amazon has a few options of low flow shower heads that range from $8-30 apiece.
- Use Your Sink Plug – do you ever go to wash your dishes by hand and just leave the drain on full speed? Well that is money down the drain (and I can't be more literal than that!). When you need to wash your dishes, then be sure to save your money and water, and utilize your dish sink plug. You'll be glad you did at the end of the month.
- Water Efficient Toilets – are you using a toilet that was produced prior to 1994? Well, if you are, then you could be flushing an extra 1.8 gallons of water down the drain. In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act that mandated all residential homes produced after 1994 to be 1.6 Gallons Per Flush vs the old 3.4 Gallons Per Flush. Check out if you are wasting water in your normal toilet usage. It might be worth it!
- Water Efficient Washing Machine – about 4-5 five years ago energy-efficient washers were extremely high priced, and hardly cost beneficial. Over the last few years, these prices have gone down substantially, but are hardly justifiable from a dollar water savings perspective. Regardless, these are still a great option to help reduce your water and energy usage and should be considered. Also, a lot of these new models look freaking awesome! I want one, please!
- Sprinkler Cycles – the biggest usage months I have for my water bill are during the summer. For a suburbanite, who has a sprinkler system, it is obvious that the majority of my consumption goes to keeping my lawn green. However, are you aware that you should vary your lengths per zone and number of days per week depending on the time of year? Utilizing the below techniques you can help develop your lawn root system, and ultimately drive down your total water costs.
- Spring – during the spring you should focus on low minutes per zone, but water more frequently per week. What this means is if you normally water each zone for 30 minutes and 3 days a week, then water 15-20 minutes per zone, and 3-5 days a week. The springtime is a time to focus on developing new grass seed, and germinating seedlings (if you over-seeded).
- Mid-summer – when the heat of the summer is beating down on your lawn it's important to remember you don't need to water every day. During the summer focus on higher minutes per zone, but water less frequently per week. The summer months should be centered on making your grass dig for water. By holding back to at least an every other day cycle, then your roots will work harder to dig deeper for it's water.
- Fall – the fall time should be used to over-seed (usually around labor day), and with that, you should try and keep your lawn damp for at least 7-14 days. The fall focus is similar to the spring in doing low minutes per zone, and water more frequently per week. This is especially true after over-seeding, and I'll sometimes run my sprinklers for 10 minutes per zone, and twice a day (morning and late afternoon). Using this strategy will ultimately help you lower the amount you water your lawn year-round, and keep a green lush lawn.
- Sprinkler Rain Sensors – has the following scenario ever happened to you? You go to sleep one night. The wind is calm, and there isn't a cloud in the moonlit sky. All is right with the world. Soon at 3 am, God sends the second coming of Noah's flood, and tons of rain hammers your house and lawn. It suddenly dawns on you that you have your sprinklers running at the same time Jesus is sending this monsoon on your home! DOHHHH!!! Rest easy now! They make a device that will sensor if it's raining out or not and will automatically shut off your sprinklers. Now no more checking the weather channel before bed or having to get out of bed in the middle of the night! Check out these rain sensors on Amazon ranging from $20-$60. These babies are worth their weight in “water”, and will help ya save a few bucks.
These are just a few tips and tricks I use to save money on my monthly water bill. I'd love to hear from our readers! What tips or tricks do you use to save water and lower your monthly water bills?
That Kramer is a hot mess. One of my favorite shows of the past. For the dishes I always put the stopper in. We don’t use the dishwasher much but I will use the speed setting next time. Also i try to make sure the loads for washing is a little bigger vs just washing a couple of pieces of clothing.
@Christina – I wasn’t aware that running your dishwasher during “off hours” can save you money. Are you sure about this? Is this normal for most electricity companies?
@John – I laugh almost everytime I watch the embedded clip! The commando 450 never gets old! haha
@Zimmy – you’d thick with sequestration and all, that we could install sprinkler sensors to cut back on watering! That’d probably save the government at least 1%!
@Laurie – we use rain barrels for our garden too! Definitely helps save a few dollars and the rain water much better for your plants!
Great tips here, Charlie. Our newest saving water “discovery” since moving out to our hobby farm is the great rain barrels that came with the property. We always use them to water the gardens here.
We always try to find ways to save money on our water bill. We don’t stress about the lawn to much though. By having native grass it is able to stand up to the heat of the summer. Another great way to reduce the amount of water you use in the yard is to use left over water in the house instead of dumping it down the drain. We keep an old bucket in the garage and at the end of the day any glasses left with water in them get dumped into the bucket. We then use this water for our plants outside. It’s not much but every little bit can help.
I always hate it government buildings around my city have their sprinklers going after a good rain. A simple rainwater sensor on these sprinkler systems could save my city (and it’s taxpayers) a pretty penny over the period of a couple of years.
Lol, gotta love the Commando 450! ;) We just had our bathroom redone and installed a low flow toilet. We’ve noticed no difference in function, so it’ll be interesting to see what impact it has on the bill.
Great ideas! I also schedule our dishwasher to run during “off peak” hours to save on electricity.
One thing we have found that saves on water – we installed a timer switch on our bathroom fan. This is a good reminder not to spend too long in the shower!