Flushing away your money? Ways to cut down your water bill

If you've been reading Walletpop for a while, you've already come across some of our tips for conserving water. However, as we face a long, hot summer with drought conditions across much of the country, this would be a good time to reconsider how much of the old H2O you use and how much it costs you. Besides, saving a little water here and there could loosen up the purse strings in other areas. Who knows: You might even be able to afford your weekly fill-up!

One of the first places where you can slice your bill is in the place where you spend 28% of your water and a comparable amount of your time: the toilet.

If your "porcelain convenience" was made before 1970, you're flushing approximately five gallons of water down the drain every time you push the lever. Post-1970 toilets use 3.5 gallons per flush, and current thrones (such as the Toto Aquia) use as little as 0.9 gallons per flush. For the average household, this can result in a savings of over 7,500 gallons of water per year. This is over 1,000 cubic feet, or more than enough water to fill a 12' x 10' x 8' space. In other words, if you have an old toilet, you're probably flushing away enough water to fill your living room!

If you don't want to spend the $300 dollars that it would cost to replace your toilet, you could always go the easy route. By sealing two bricks in plastic bags then sticking them in your toilet tank, you will save approximately 1/2 gallon of water per flush. While this won't result in the insane savings that a low-flow toilet can offer, it will cut a hefty chunk out of your water bill.

Little leaks can be another nasty little drain on your wallet. According to one report, the average toilet leak consumes 15 gallons of water per day, or 5,000 gallons per year. In other words, that little leak is costing you enough water to fill an 8' x 10' x 8' space. So now, in addition to filling your living room, you're also filling the master bedroom. If you have two or three leaky toilets, you're losing enough water to fill your whole house!

Some toilet leaks are obvious, as they tend to soak the entire floor. Others, such as tank leaks, can be more stealthy. One solution is to put a few drops of food coloring into your toilet tank. If you see the color in your bowl fifteen minutes later, then you have a leak.

Toilets aren't the only little leakers. To test for leaks throughout your home, try this little procedure:
1. Make sure all of your water-consuming appliances are off!
2. Write down the number on your water meter.
3. Go see a movie, preferably the latest Indiana Jones flick. Take the whole family, unless you have little kids, in which case you'll want to watch Jones on video.
4. When you get home, before you turn on the water, check the numbers on your meter.
5. If the number has changed during your time at the multiplex, then you have a water leak somewhere in your house.

While these are the big savers, there are several other ways to cut little chunks off your water bill. For example, you might try keeping cold water in the fridge, using a low-flow shower head, using aerators on your faucets, and only running your dishwasher when it's completely full. However, if you only have the time and money to combat one water expenditure, give some serious thought to tackling the beast that dwells in your bathroom. In all likelihood, the only place where you'll notice the difference is in your wallet!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He was amazed to discover how much money he was pissing away.
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