Money Down Drain

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The average American uses 156 gallons of water a day. To put that into perspective, that’s double what the typical French person uses and quadruple what the average person uses in India. So unless you’re a card-carrying climate activist who embraced three-minute showers years ago, chances are that you can cut back — for your wallet and the planet. But before we get into how you can reduce your bill, we’ll explain why it might be expensive.

5 Common Reasons Why Your Water Bill Is So High

  • You have a leak.

If your water bill tripled in one month, chances are you’ve got a leak. A leaky toilet that runs after being flushed is one of the most common culprits, though dripping faucets, faulty irrigation systems, and leaky washing machines and appliances are common causes, too.

  • You’re wasting water.

The United States has one of the biggest water footprints in the world. Given Americans’ outsize water use, it’s likely that your high water bill could simply be because you’re using too much.

  • Your water rates changed.

Have you checked your water rates recently? If your bill is larger this month, it could be that your local utility has adjusted its prices. Read your bill carefully to see if there’s been a rate change, or contact your utility directly.

  • Your water softener is broken.

Water softening systems cyclically backwash themselves with fresh water in a process called regeneration. If this system is faulty, then backwash water will continually flow into the sewage system. Inspect your softener to make sure it’s not regenerating too often.

  • Your water meter is broken.

Assuming you’ve exhausted all other possibilities and your water bill remains high, you could have a faulty water meter on your hands. To check if it’s broken, turn off your water and see if the meter still shows that water is flowing.

Gallery: 7 Things Americans Waste Their Money On, According to Thrifty Redditors

How To Lower Your Water Bill

  • Be mindful of your water usage.

Don’t leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth, and when you bathe and shower, try to use less water. While these may seem like small gestures, they can add up to considerable savings.

  • Use high-efficiency toilets, faucets, appliances etc.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, toilets account for nearly 30 percent of water usage in the home. Instead of simply cutting back on your flushes — a disgusting prospect for some — you can install a low-flow toilet along with other efficient appliances.

  • Use the dishwasher.

Washing dishes by hand uses nine times more water than a dishwasher, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. To save even more water, scrape off food scraps instead of rinsing dishes.

  • Plant drought-resistant plants.

Outdoor water use is behind 30% of a household's total use, the EPA reports. Reduce that number by planting native, drought-resistant plants and ditching your lawn entirely.

  • Install drip irrigation.

Drip irrigation systems are far more efficient than other forms of watering, as they reduce runoff and evaporation. Save time and money by setting up an automatic watering system.

What If I Can’t Afford My Bill?

If you can’t afford to pay your utility bill, look into getting help from government assistance programs or charities. On a federal level, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offers help, though you should also check with your local utility for assistance. Since completely blowing off your bill could end your service or damage your credit, you shouldn’t hesitate to find an alternative.

The Bottom Line

The amount of water Americans use is astounding. Whether you’re looking to cut back for environmental or financial reasons, there are plenty of low-effort ways to reduce water consumption without spending extra money. Of course, water usage is also a systemic issue that demands that we hold agriculture and big business accountable.

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