How to save on your water bill

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How to Save Money on Your Water Bill

Wanting to conserve water may feel trendy, but it isn't exactly a new thing. In a 1954 article, The Washington Post advised readers to consider installing "the modern shower head which provides a zestful shower with only a small fraction of water utilized by older and larger shower heads."

Still, as the years have passed, there are more reasons than ever to try to reduce your water bill. For one thing, the environmental concerns aren't going away. According to CircleofBlue.org, a website founded by journalists and scientists to call attention to the world's dwindling resources, "global demand for fresh water – mainly from agriculture, industry and expanding cities – is growing so fast that, by 2030, supplies will be scarce enough to threaten economic development, political stability, and public health."

And last year, a study from NASA, Cornell University and Columbia University predicted that a mega-drought will hammer the Southwest and Central Plains later this century.

SEE ALSO: 11 Expenses Destroying Your Budget

Even if you think the environmental concerns are overblown or that society will come up with a fix and so why worry, water bills in general are rising, which may be reason enough to try to use less of the resource. According to CircleofBlue.org, the price of residential water service in 30 major U.S. cities has been rising faster than the cost of nearly every other household staple.

So if you're looking for strategies to lower your water bill, beyond the obvious ideas of taking shorter showers and not letting the water run when you brush your teeth, consider this your water bill-reducing battle plan.

Know your home's most expensive water spots. You could technically save money by drinking less water, but that would be foolish – and it wouldn't save you that much cash.

Out of the water a typical household uses inside the home, "drinking and cooking accounts for 5 percent," according to Mark LeChevallier, vice president and chief environmental officer for American Water, the largest publicly traded American water and wastewater utility company, headquartered in Voorhees, New Jersey.

You're likely using most of your water in the bathroom. "An average person uses up to 50 gallons of water indoors each day," LeChevallier says. "Out of those internal 50 gallons, toilets generally account for 45 percent. Bathing or showering accounts for about 30 percent."

RELATED: Click through for 6 tips to more money in your pocket:

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How to save on your water bill

Automate your finances. 

Set up your finances so that money is taken straight from your paycheck and deposited directly into your savings account or a retirement savings account. You can also set up your fixed bills like your Internet and cable to be automatically deducted from your checking account. Automate your finances to save time and prevent overspending. If you see extra money in your account, chances are you’ll find a way to spend it, leaving you little to invest in your future. Automation helps keep your priorities in line so that as money comes in, it is dispersed to your other accounts immediately.

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Cut back. 

At least twice a year, look at your expenses line by line and see if you’re getting the most bang for your buck. For example, do you read the magazines you subscribe to or maximize that gym membership? If the answer is “no,” consider canceling or negotiating a better rate. Take that money you save, and apply it toward bigger payoffs like debt reduction, retirement or an emergency fund.   

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Get rewards. 

Lots of people use debit cards to make it easy to buy and budget for groceries, gas and other routine purchases. Instead of doing that, look into a credit card with a great rewards program for those daily purchases, and set it up to automatically pay the statement balance from your checking account each month. Over the course of the year, you could potentially pocket a few extra hundred dollars just by using a card with a good rewards program instead of your ordinary debit card (just make sure you’re paying off your credit card every month, so you don’t pay extra in interest).

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Boost your income. 

If you love your job and want to grow your career, it's time to think about boosting your income as well. Make it a goal to negotiate a raise this year. Consider your strengths and look at the value you've provided to your company over the last six months to a year, and discuss it during a performance review. This can feel intimidating, but it never hurts to ask.

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Get a side gig. 

Take advantage of your skills, or turn a hobby into profit. Doing so can help you generate extra income – which you can put toward reaching your financial goals. Etsy, for example, is a great place to sell one-of-a-kind products.  If you have Web design, copy editing or other creative skills, consider offering your services on freelance websites such as Fiverr or Elance. These types of side gigs will allow you to earn extra income while also growing your skills.

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Track your progress. 

You can’t save money if you don't know where your money is going. Every month, track your net worth using a personal finance tool or app that will show you exactly where your money is going. This will make you think about your entire financial picture from income and expenses to investments and taxes. With this focus, you can ultimately make the greatest impact on your finances in 2015.

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After that, you could work on preventing water waste in the kitchen and laundry room. Twenty percent of your household's water is likely going to laundry and dishes.

And do you water your lawn? Watering less could save you a lot.

"It takes 660 gallons of water to supply 1,000 square feet of lawn – the same amount of water you use inside the house in an entire week," LeChevallier says.

Consider spending money to save money.You could invest in products designed to reduce your water bill in the long run. Kristi Mailloux is the chief marketing officer of AM Conservation Group, a Charleston, South Carolina-based company that specializes in conversation products. While it is a company that sells products to consumers, it has made a name for itself by working with utilities, electric co-ops and municipalities on energy and water solutions. To date, the company has worked with over 2,000 utilities and cities.

EXPLORE MORE: 11 Ways to Save Time and Money

So regardless where you get these products, Mailloux suggests you consider looking into buying:

A Toilet Tank Bank. This is a plastic bag you fill with water and then clip onto the side of the tank. These are cheap – generally a few bucks. With less space in the tank, less water goes into the tank, which ultimately will save you money.

"Toilets can use up to 7 gallons of water per flush," Mailloux says. So if you can reduce any of the water involving your toilet, eventually, you'll start to see some savings. Maybe a lot of savings.

Lower-flow showerheads. If you live in an older house and haven't replaced your showerheads for a long time, you probably should look into finding something more energy-efficient.

"Before 1992, some showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gallons per minute," Mailloux says.

Typically, you can find showerheads that offer flow rates of 2.5 to 1.5 GPM, and it makes a difference.

"A 1.5 GPM showerhead can save $73 in water use annually in one household," Mailloux says.

Faucet aerators. These are devices you can attach to the end of your faucets so that less water comes out. They generally cost several dollars per aerator.

"A typical sink faucet will use between 2 to 2.5 gallons of water per minute," Mailloux says. She adds that if you use an aerator that lets the water flow at 1 gallon per minute instead of using one that has 2.2. GPM, you could save $104 in water usage annually.

SEE ALSO: 50 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2016

Look for trouble spots around the house. If you've installed some new water-reducing products, you're on your way to a smaller water bill, but there's still more you could do. LeChevallier suggests the following:

Check for leaks. There could be a leak somewhere. "Together, a leaky faucet and a leaky toilet can waste up to 120 extra gallons of water a day," LeChevallier says.

He has a fun tip for finding leaks. You can even do it with the kids. Just get some food coloring and put it in the toilet tank. "If, without flushing, color appears in the bowl, you have a leaky toilet," LeChevallier says.

Go to the garage. Do you have a lawn mower? If you like your grass cut short, put the blades up another notch higher. Longer grass will make your lawn more drought-tolerant, which means, at least in theory, you'll water your lawn less.

Go to the garden. Instead of spraying everything with a garden hose, try a drip irrigation hose. And water in the morning. Definitely don't water in the afternoon.

"As much as 30 percent of water can be lost to evaporation by watering during midday," LeChevallier says.

Go to the refrigerator. Do you have bottled water? Stop buying it, LeChevallier says.

"Clearly there are times where bottled water is the right or only choice, such as in emergency situations where tap water is unavailable or when you are choosing between bottled soft drinks or bottled water and want to make the healthier choice," LeChevallier says.

But for the most part, spending money on bottled water is giving you a shadowy second water bill that may end up being as frighteningly expensive as the first.

For starters, LeChevallier says, "More than 25 percent of bottled water being sold is simply tap water in a bottle with a branded label."

And what's really crazy is that your bottled water bill can be more expensive than your water bill. Thankfully, people haven't decided to make showering or washing clothes with bottled water a trend.

"The price of bottled water is 300 times more expensive than tap water," LeChevallier says.

RELATED: Check out how to save money on a road trip:

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1. Calculate your expected fuel cost before your trip. It’s always wise to get an accurate estimation of how much to budget for gas beforehand. GasBuddy's fuel calculator is an excellent tool to get an expected price point. Just enter your vehicle information, startpoint and endpoint, and the app will calculate how much you’ll spend.

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2. Don’t fuel up near popular areas. You’ll find inflated gas prices near popular tourist destinations and metropolitan areas, so it’s worth venturing to the town over for more affordable prices. For example, gas costs on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in California are considerably higher than the stations a few miles off the main highway.

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3. Fill up your tank at truck stops. You'll often find the cheapest gas prices here. 

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4. Download gas apps. Apps like GasBuddy and GasGuru come in handy by computing the cheapest station in relation to your current location.

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5. Drive efficiently to save gas costs. These 5 fuel-efficient tips are proven to maintain a full tank longer:

           1. Turn off your AC

2. Engage cruise control in low-traffic areas

3. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking

4. Inflate tires close to maximum

5. Avoid speeding

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6. Travel with friends. Traveling with a few buddies is an efficient (and fun) way to save cash by splitting the cost of a tank.

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7. Grocery shop in advance. Pack water and snacks beforehand in a cooler -- inflated convenience store prices will eat away at your budget.

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8. Bring reusable water bottles. Filling up a water bottle is cheaper than buying a Poland Spring at every stop.

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9. Buy fountain drinks over bottled drinks. If you’re craving a Mountain Dew, fountain drinks give you a better bang for your buck over bottled soda.

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Use Yelp: Download Yelp on your phone to see the best restaurant offers in your area.

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11. Take advantage of restaurant deals. Chances are there will be tons of chain restaurants along the way, so use sites like Groupon and GiftCardGranny to get a deal on the road.

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12. Load up on free coffee and breakfast from hotels for the road. Take advantage of a free meal and avoid Starbucks and other expensive coffee shops.

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13. Avoid staying in popular areas. Tourist-driven and metropolitan areas are often paired with inflated prices, so find a place to sleep in surrounding towns.

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14. Check out sites like Airbnb, Tripadvisor, and Kayak to score the best low-cost lodging deals.

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15. Rent a car. If you don’t own your own vehicle, renting a car beforehand for as cheap as $22 a day on sites like ExpediaHotwire, and Travelocity can be a great deal.

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16. Alert your bank. Sometimes banks will deem charges in new cities as fraudulent and cancel your cards.

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17. Stick to budget-friendly activities. Some ideas include hiking national parks, visiting beaches and checking out a town’s culture by walking the streets and venturing into a street fair.

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18. Take advantage of student discounts. If you’re currently a student, bring your student ID for maximum discounts.

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19. Download road trip planning apps. Apps like Roadtrippers are a great way to help plan and finance your new excursion.

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