Frugal Living, The Home 
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How I Cut My Water Bill In Half

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The water bill for the last three months (Nov 05 – Jan 06) arrived in the mail today and the total hit was a quarter shy of fifty bucks, something that sounds more reasonable than the Benjamin it cost us to enjoy the benefits of Howard County, Maryland water and sewer services the three months previous. According to their measurements, we used less than half the amount of water (8,229 gallons versus 19,449 gallons) despite not really changing our water usage habits.



Item Consumption
(100 cu. ft)
Rate
(Winter)
Amount
Charged
Water Usage 11 $1.01 $11.11
Water User Charge $7.60
Sewer Usage $1.61 $17.71
Sewer User Charge $5.80
State Bay Restoration Fee $7.50
Total: $49.72
3 mo. Difference: -$41.90

I found it interesting that the water rate in the winter was ten cents cheaper than in the summer, but that’s reasonable since the demand for water is much higher in the summer.

Did we change our behavior to try to use less water? I think we only did so marginally (tried not to leave the water running when we were brushing teeth, things like that) but we didn’t do anything extraordinary to get our bill down. I still want to do the whole water displacement trick for the toilet water tanks (where you just get a rock to take up a little space in the water tank and thus use less water per flush) but haven’t actually done it.

One other issue I thought of was that we shut off the water to the outside faucets because we were afraid they’d freeze and crack in the cold temperatures. Is it possible that there is a crack somewhere in the wall that I can’t see? There doesn’t appear to be any flooding anywhere inside the house, the ground isn’t perpetually wet outside, and I can’t think of any other symptoms to look for. If there was a small leak, it’s very possible that could be the culprit for the higher water bill.

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15 Responses to “How I Cut My Water Bill In Half”

  1. Jane Dough says:

    Not sure if it is true for you, but I find that I do less laundry in the cold months (I don’t sweat through as many clothes). My plants need less watering in the winter months, and I don’t drink as much tap water. In the summer months it is not uncommon for me to take two showers a day (one in the morning and one in the evening to cool me down before bed). So the season may in fact be having an impact on your water usage.

  2. RS says:

    I am with Jane on this one. I find that I naturally use more water in the summer months, even though I would say that I don’t change my habits between seasons (consiously at least).

  3. I think the fact that you stopped showering has helped tremendously. That and the lack of dish washing.

  4. Nick says:

    Still, for every reason that you might use less water in the winter, you can probably come up with another reason you use more. For example, I don’t know about you, but cold weather makes me pee more, and that means more flushes of the toilet. Another example: winter is more depressing, so you’ll need more ice for your mixed drinks. And while your plants might not need as much water in the winter, if you intend to keep your Christmas tree looking nice and healthy into March and April, you’re gonna have to keep it properly hydrated. Also, whenever the temperature drops below zero, any normal person will spend the day throwing buckets of water off their third-story balcony to watch it freeze in mid-air.

  5. mbhunter says:

    Our county does a flat fee for the first 8,000 gallons, so putting aside for the moment my desire not to waste water, we never really save any money by conserving.

  6. FMF says:

    I’m thinking of installing the low-flow showerheads and see what that does to our water bill. Our current showerhead was made sometime in the 80′s and gives a full blast of water.

  7. Shaun says:

    Not sure if this applies to Maryland this time of year, but I did notice my water bill had taken a jump recently. Turned out to be two problems: 1) I have an in-ground fountain in my backyard and the cement had cracked, allowing water to leak out. The fountain has an auto-fill float, so more water was constantly being put back in. 2) My irrigation system developed cracks in two of the hoses, causes more leaks. Out here in Arizona, there isn’t really a winter, so the irrigation goes all year. Not sure if these types of issues might be a problem in the Maryland winter, but it’s worth a check.

  8. Festival of Frugality

    Welcome to this week’s edition of the Festival of Frugality. For those of you who don’t know, this carnival is about frugal living and saving money. Somewhere this got lost in the translation since I received entries that weren’t about

  9. Dus10 says:

    Are you sure they were not just billing you for your estimated usage? My water company does that. We get billed monthly, but they estimate it frequently, and only actually check the meter every so many months, and then that bill is adjusted accordingly.

    • echidnina says:

      Same – I think all our utilities are like this.

      One of my friends loves the cold, and she keeps her thermostat at 60 all winter. When she moved into a new apartment, her heating bill was estimated based on the previous year’s usage. When they actually checked the readings, her next month’s bill was only $5! :)

    • cdiver says:

      I have seen this happen several times. It took us a while to figure out the change.

  10. jim says:

    I will have to double check that but the water is provided by the county and not a private company.

  11. Marilyn says:

    Jim, I’m in Baltimore County and my water usage is down only slightly from the summer, so maybe one of the bills was estimated and the other not or maybe you do have a leak in one of the outside water pipes, although I think that would be showing up somewhere if it’s doubling your water usage. FMF, we have a low-flow showerhead and cannot tell the difference; just get a good one – try to test it at the store or someone’s house. Nick, thank you for the laugh. It started with the ice in the drinks and really got going with throwing water off the balcony to watch it freeze in mid-air.

    Nick, one more thing – don’t worry how much you save on water – you’ll be paying it in electricity this summer when the deregulation price caps come off! :)

  12. Marilyn says:

    Oops, sorry on that last comment about the electricity – it was directed to Jim, not Nick. My bad.


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