With scorching temperatures covering much of the country, cold showers are inviting. But be careful with your water bill.
Average water and sewerage bills, which are often combined, have increased by about 50% over the past decade. bluefield research, is an advisory firm and is expected to continue to rise. Prices vary, but last year the average monthly water bill across the United States was about $49, up from $32 in 2012. (This figure is based on average monthly household water usage in the 50 largest US cities).
Bluefield analyst Charlie Seuss said inflation was one reason for the increase, along with supply chain disruptions and the cost of replacing old pipes and equipment. Some cities delayed raising taxes during the pandemic but are now trying to catch up. A prolonged drought in the West will not help. Cities like Phoenix are under strained water supplies. interest rate hike To cover costs and promote conservation.
“Given the damage climate change continues to do to water infrastructure, we expect drought conditions to continue to impact rates in many cities,” Seuss said in an email.
Even if rates haven’t skyrocketed in your community, they may in the future. As many water districts respond to population growth, treatment and distribution costs are rising. And some water districts will need to replace systems that date back to the post-World War II era, said Environmental Protection Agency Commissioner Veronica Brett. water sense This program helps consumers and businesses find ways to use less water.
“Interest rates will go up,” Brett said. “That’s the reality.”
Where will it leave the consumer?
Reducing your water usage will help. Americans use an average of 82 gallons per person in their homes each day, according to the report. water sense.
Traditional advice often focuses on behaviors such as shortening shower times and turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. (The latter saves 8 gallons a day, EPA says.)
It helps, but installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances can reduce your home’s water use by at least 20 percent, the EPA says. Bathrooms are a good place to start, as they can account for more than half of the water your family uses indoors. Consumers can update items such as low-flow showerheads and toilets. Modern toilets use just over a gallon or less of water per flush, while older models use a few gallons.
In general, if your toilet is more than 10 years old, you can save water (and money) by replacing it, says Mary H.J. Farrell, senior editor at Consumer Reports. .
That doesn’t mean you have to replace all your water-using equipment and appliances at once. “If something breaks, do it,” Farrell suggested. (Some water utilities may offer discounts or rebates when you upgrade.)
Farrell said consumers may be wary of low-flow toilets because some early versions didn’t always work well, but newer models are generally fine. (Consumer Reports no longer inspects old “water-eating” toilets, she said.)
High-efficiency dishwashers and washing machines use far less water than older models, so kitchens and laundry rooms are also places to conserve water. (Another tip: Only wash large amounts of dishes and clothes.)
Low-water landscaping is growing in popularity as a way to save water and reduce costs. Outdoor watering accounts for more than 30% of household water use on average, according to the EPA, but that percentage could double in dry areas.
Tony Koski, a lawn extension expert at Colorado State University, uses native plants and grasses that are adapted to local weather patterns and uses “hydrozone treatments,” which group plants based on their water needs. He said he could reduce watering by doing so.
Lawns have a stigma because of their reputation for requiring a lot of watering and fertilizing, but “if you have kids and dogs, you probably want a lawn,” he said.
Brett suggests thinking about your lawn the same way you think about your carpet. “Do you really need wall to wall?” she asked. A smaller “accent rug” might work as well.
When renovating a garden, Koski recommends hiring a professional landscape designer who knows what plants should be placed together to make watering as efficient as possible. “They know what design flaws to avoid,” he said.
If you have an irrigation system, install a controller that senses when it rains (no additional watering required) or windy (water is dispersed) and automatically shuts it off can. The device can cost hundreds of dollars, but the savings in your water bill will likely pay for it.
A common problem is water loss through leaks. Homeowners may not realize they have running water until they are charged a higher than normal water bill. Some water districts bill quarterly, so delays can be costly.
The Chicago-based nonprofit Alliance for Water Efficiency recently analyzed the use of “smart” metering systems in four utilities. The system quickly notifies customers when water flow exceeds a certain threshold over a period of time and a leak is suspected. the study Researchers found a “statistically significant” reduction in leakage, saving as much as 3 gallons per meter per day.
If your water department doesn’t have a smart system, you can buy a home water leaker detector at many retail stores.
Here are some questions and answers about saving water and lowering your bill:
How do I know how much water my home uses?
The Alliance for Water Efficiency water calculator on that website. After answering a few questions about your appliances and water usage habits, a report comparing your water usage to the average and “water-smart” homes, along with suggestions for reducing your water usage, will be generated. increase.
What if I can’t afford to pay my water bill?
Like gas and electric utilities, water utilities typically offer payment assistance and flexible payment options to help low-income customers pay their bills and avoid loss of service. Call your water system and ask if you are eligible.
Payment assistance programs are often underutilized because people are unaware of them and because the programs have onerous application requirements. report A donation from the US Water Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable water policy. A study by the coalition and planning and engineering firm Stantech in two large Midwestern cities found that water bills are based at least in part on factors such as building size and number of bedrooms, rather than just money. It turned out that there is Reducing the amount of water we use can reduce the burden of high fees on low-income households.
How can I find water-saving appliances and appliances?
Look for EPA water sense This means that the goods pass the standards of efficiency and performance. consumer report (available by subscription) tests a wide range of consumer electronics products and gives eco-friendly products a green leaf to mark them as “Green Choice” products.