Don't Waste Your Money: How to lower your water bill - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Don't Waste Your Money: How to lower your water bill

(Toledo News Now) -

When the rain isn't enough this time of year, we start watering our plants and gardens, which means big water bills for homeowners, that go up every year. However, there are some simple things you can do to lower that bill.

It's watering season. With the way rates have been going up in recent years, you could pay hundreds of dollars this summer just to wash clothes and water your plants.

Could It Be A Water Leak?

Yvonne Schnelle thought she had a water leak at her small home. Her latest three-month combined water and sewer bill was a whopping $451.

But when she made a spreadsheet using five years of bills, she realized it wasn't because of a leak or increased usage on her part, but sewage rates that have tripled.

"The water portion of my last bill was $147," Schnelle said, "but the sewage portion was almost $300. And I was like, 'What is this?'"

Reasons For Soaring Rates

Sewer systems everywhere are jacking up rates because of new EPA regulations and the cost of replacing aging water mains.

"It's across the nation, all the major cities and medium-size cities are struggling with this. They have aging infrastructure and higher treatment requirements," explained Dave Rager, a water district director.
Rager says unless you use a septic tank, you can't fight rising sewer rates. He says you just have to lower your water use.

Reduce Your Outdoor Usage

The biggest culprit during the summer is your yard. Rager says a garden hose or sprinkler runs 3 gallons per minute, which is 180 gallons per hour. He says many people over-water, using hundreds of gallons more than their lawn really needs.

His advice:

-Don't water more than 1 inch per week, measured in a tuna can or cup.

-Never water in the heat of the afternoon; the sun will evaporate almost 30 percent of what comes out of a sprinkler before it even hits the ground.

-For watering plants, consider buying a rain barrel to capture runoff from your roof. They typically hold 50 to 70 gallons of free water.

Around shrubs, Rager suggests laying down a rock garden to hold water.

"It is a system that captures the water and slowly percolates it so the trees and everything can be irrigated," Rager said.

Avoid Thirsty Plants

The easiest way to save money outdoors is to buy plants and flowers that don't require a lot of water.

Garden center owner Mike Benken advises gardeners to be careful of how many thirsty plants they buy.

Water hogs that require almost daily watering include: 

He suggests buying water misers, such as:

-Plants in the cactus family, like sedum

Water misers can go days, if not weeks in some cases, without extra watering.

Benken also says you should water with a wand to get just the roots. Don't waste water spraying your plants with a hose, you'll just be watering their leaves and the air.

Consider Replacing Older Appliances

Finally, back inside Schnelle's house, Rager suggests not rinsing dishes before using the dishwasher.

Also, he says to replace water users, like old washing machines that use 50 gallons a load. New HE machines use just 20.

Another thing to consider is replacing old toilets that use 3 to 5 gallons per flush. A newer model sold since 1994, uses just 1.6 gallons by law. Some of the newest models built since 2006 will use just 1.28 gallon per flush, and work better than 10-year-old 1.6 gallon models.

Schnelle hopes a few changes will mean a smaller bill next time.

Don't Run Hose During Winter

One last tip: With many water districts, your sewer rates are set based on your winter usage, that way you are not billed sewer charges for watering the lawn during the summer months. So Rager suggests you try to use as little water as possible from December until March each year.

Don't wash the car with a garden hose, or blast the driveway with a hose cleaning during the winter. You are charged full sewage rates until April.

That way your summer rates will be lower, and you don't waste your money.

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