Help me lower my water bill!! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have a general city bill, water, electric, garbage on one bill. Our water/sewer is the highest portion of this.

I'm really at a loss on how to make it go down!!

DH showers daily, I shower every other day, the kids bathe every other day (generally, sometimes less sometimes more depending on how dirty they get) (DD occasionally gets in the shower with DH or I but she just hangs out at our feet).

We have a HE washer and I do probably 1-2 loads of laundry daily (4 people) we no longer wash CD's (DD is potty learning and was only going through 2 diapers a day if that).

We don't have a dish washer, we wash dishes by hand. This gets done twice a day generally (could probably do it once but we don't have any paper dishes and I cook lunch so they seem to pile up if we don't do lunch dishes then supper dishes).

There is no way I could get DH to shower less than daily. It just won't happen.

Our city bill was $170 this month (for electric, water, garbage) I would prefer it be a little lower than that...

Renae wife to J :, Mama to 4.5y/o J-bird and 2y/o A : and E coming in late Dec/Early Jan. My husband had a living donor kidney transplant! :
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#2 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 02:58 PM
 
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My Grandmother used to say, "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down".
I wouldn't let the toilet stink, but try every third pee to flush and not everytime. Do not run the water while you brush your teeth, just when you need it (this includes male shaving).
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#3 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 05:38 PM
 
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We too are fighting a high water bill in our new house. ugh!

Some suggestions I've been given/tried :

switch to low flow shower heads
if any faucets drip fix them!
fix toilets that "run"
take shorter showers if you're willing

Good luck on lowering your bill!
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#4 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 05:42 PM
 
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Use a bucket to catch the water from the shower while you are waiting for it to heat up instead of letting it go down the drain, and use that water to flush the toilet.
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#5 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 05:46 PM
 
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What method do you use to wash your dishes by hand? Do you let the water run while you do it? Is there a way to use less water while you wash them?
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#6 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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We installed high efficiency toilets. I guess that's what they're called. One button for liquid deposits (using less water to flush) and another button for solid deposits (which uses more water to flush).

Also, we had a lump sum bill from the City and we switched to metered bills. Haven't gotten the first one yet, so, not sure if it was the best thing to do!

You could also try using water barrels to catch rain water. Not sure if there is a real use for that this time of year. We plan to use those in the spring when we plant a garden and use the water from the barrel to water the garden.

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#7 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The only time I let the water run while brushing teeth is to let it heat up so I can wash my face (tried washing with cold water but I just can't do it...)

Washing dishes, I dip rinse...I plug both sides and let the rinse side fill while I'm waiting for the water to heat up and then fill the wash side and then top off the rinse side if need be.

DH takes 5 hour long showers, I've tried getting him to cut it out but he just pitches a fit. I shower as quick as I can (mine are during DD's nap time so I'm quick anyway in case she wakes up.)

We can't really do anything with the toilets, it's a rental. No drippy faucets, no running toilets.

We don't have a garden so no watering there...

Renae wife to J :, Mama to 4.5y/o J-bird and 2y/o A : and E coming in late Dec/Early Jan. My husband had a living donor kidney transplant! :
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#8 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 07:06 PM
 
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I would say laundry. 1-2 loads a day? Holy Moly. We do. 6 loads a week - 2 of those loads are diapers. So we do 4 loads of clothes etc laundry a week. It helps that we gave ourselves laundry days - twice a week. We only do laundry on those days, and we wash everything in cold (except diapers). Pants can be worn more than once, so can pj's. I cant imagine doing 2 loads a day - Id feel like I was always doing laundry! phew!

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#9 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH changes out of his work clothes when he gets home because of germs so it piles up. (DH just had a kidney transplant so we can't have germs) we also don't have a laundry room or anywhere to keep dirty laundry (our washer is in our kitchen) so I have to keep up on it daily or it takes over my kitchen.

I've looked into baskets and what not, but there isn't anywhere to keep them. No space in our bedroom (we barely have walking space to the bed as it is even with nothing but the bed in there), no space in the bathroom (because our dryer lives there)

We wear our pjs 3 times in a row, jeans not usually because it usually happens that one of the kids wipes gunk on me so my jeans are always filthy. DH wears his jeans multiple times in a row because he only has 2 pair (but the laundry is still there because of shirts and undies and socks). DH has a 'phobia' about using towels more than once. I've tried to get him to reuse his towel but he refuses so I quit...

Renae wife to J :, Mama to 4.5y/o J-bird and 2y/o A : and E coming in late Dec/Early Jan. My husband had a living donor kidney transplant! :
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#10 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 07:24 PM
 
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What I found with the water is the majority of the 'water' is the sewer and that part if fixed. For example the house I'm at now the water/sewer/trash bill runs about 75-80$. The actual water part of that is $20.00. Take a look at the bill and see if the different catagories are spilt out.

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#11 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 07:40 PM
 
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Sounds like it's your dh's long daily hot showers. Can you take off his shower head and replace it with a low-flow one?

Or go turn down the hot water heater to 105 degrees. That's absolutely fine for a shower, but not hot enough to encourage him to take overlong showers.

Or tell him that he needs to pay for the water bill out of his personal money, if he won't give it up. You don't get to have a luxury that causes the rest of your family to suffer.

ETA: The towel thing: Can you rotate towels? He uses a fresh towel, hangs it up to dry, you use that towel the next day, the kids use it for their next bath? That way dh gets a fresh towel every day but you're only washing as many as he uses?
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#12 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We only have 1 bathroom and the house is old so the water pressure sucks anyway. I'll lecture him a bit more on the long showers...if I can wash my hair (and it's almost to my butt) and be out in under 10 minutes then he can be done in under 10 as well...he says he needs to 'relax' or something like that...or else one of the kids is in with him and makes it take forever (not sure why...it never takes me any longer...)

I've tried rotating towels, he ends up using it as a hand towel and just...ew...we only have 1 towel rack so it's impossible to keep them separate

We don't have 'personal money' it's just money.

I did have the hot water heater up for diapers, guess I could bump it down until the baby is born.

Renae wife to J :, Mama to 4.5y/o J-bird and 2y/o A : and E coming in late Dec/Early Jan. My husband had a living donor kidney transplant! :
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#13 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 07:56 PM
 
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I too recommend looking at the "breakdown" of charges. I have foudn that our USAGE of water affects our bull by literally 5 doallars at most. the rest of it is essentially a fixed price for sewer and garbage and random fees the city decides to hit us with. Changing water usage makes almost no difference in the bill.
NOW...it might be that you have a leak somewhere, or something like that. if that is the case, it is worth it to find and fix. I woudl try to compare that to others in your area with a similar house. It might be that is simply normal for your area. Here, that would be INSANE. We pay $50-60/month and don't restrict or limit our usage at all.

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#14 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 07:58 PM
 
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In our city, the sewer bill is based on the water amount so the less water you use, the lower the sewer bill is.

Really, I'm not sure what else you can do except for get your husband to take shorter showers. An hour is a LONG time, and a LOT of water. I'd definitely get a low-flow fixture for the shower, and any faucets in the house. Make sure you are flushing the toilet less, and get one of those plastic bags to put in the tank so less water is used with each flush.

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#15 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 08:00 PM
 
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A low flow shower head makes a big difference even with old pipes, and it even increases the perceived water pressure because of how the water comes out of the head. Some can filter chlorine and junk out too, so it's a win win.
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#16 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 10:14 PM
 
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If the shower head is old, even a new shower head that is not "low flow" will help because the new standard is a lot lower flow than the ones made back in the day. Just mentioning this in case you try a low flow and hate it. We got something that can be dialed to different flows after trying a low flow that was horrible (could not rinse my hair in a timely fashion).

We have a free standing towel rack... If you could find one, maybe you could do the towel rotating thing with it set up in the bedroom? Smaller towels could help. I've heard of people who essentially use hand towels to dry off so they can use a fresh towel every shower and it's not much more laundry than a big one washed weekly.

Maybe you could look more at your electricity usage and find ways to cut back there. I could see the shower thing being a quality of life issue for your dh. Mine is kinda like that. I just got a better shower head, one that we could both live with, and have resolved not to nag him about his showers.

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#17 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 10:31 PM
 
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I've heard of people who essentially use hand towels to dry off so they can use a fresh towel every shower and it's not much more laundry than a big one washed weekly.
That is brilliant!
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#18 of 29 Old 11-05-2009, 10:40 PM
 
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That is brilliant!
Yes - not sure I can sell it over here, but a really GREAT idea!

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#19 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 12:12 AM
 
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What I found with the water is the majority of the 'water' is the sewer and that part if fixed. For example the house I'm at now the water/sewer/trash bill runs about 75-80$. The actual water part of that is $20.00. Take a look at the bill and see if the different catagories are spilt out.
Yep, I was just coming here to complain about my own water bill. $97 this month. $56 for the sewer, $7 for service and the rest was water. We used 11,000 gallons this month.
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#20 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 02:24 AM
 
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When I want to cut down on my shower usage, I close the drain while I'm in the shower. Once the tub is "full", I better be done. ;-) If he needs more time than that, he should be taking a bath instead of a shower.

It sounds like your DH uses a lot of water, and everyone else is chipping in and doing their part. How does he feel about the size of the bill? How much impact does this truly have on your family finances? Is it a situation where you're going without other things because of what you're paying for water, or just "Eeek that's a lot of money and I don't like to spend that much money", but no particular problem? Can you frame the long showers and fresh towels daily as a trade-off against something else?
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#21 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 02:40 AM
 
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And that made me curious about our water bill... so I looked it up. We're billed bi-monthly, and get ONE bill for water, power, sewer, and trash. Ours for August-September has these water charges:

Water: $48.06
Sewer Service Charge: $32.70 (this is based on the prior year winter water use. They take the lowest water bill you had from October to March, and calculate your daily sewer fee based on the average daily usage during that period. So to lower that charge, we'd have to conserve water *now*, and we wouldn't see the change until probably May or June.)

Only 12% of our total bill is our actual water use. We used 14 HCF of water, which is about 10,500 gallons.
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#22 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 02:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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LOL hour was an exaggeration I guess, it's probably 15 minutes I'd guess. It just seems like FOREVER because I've timed myself I can be in and out in 7 minutes...

Checked our bill, it's $28 for water, $29 for sewer, garbage is $19 Electric was high, but it's always high...we're working on cutting that down...

We have little graphs that show Electirc and Water usage and the bar on the graph is at the very top. Electric is dropping (not surprising since we're not running the a/c) LOL in Aug when DH wasn't able to take showers after his surgery (sponge bath only) we only used 4,000 gallons. We used 6,000 last month.

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#23 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 05:23 AM
 
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LOL hour was an exaggeration I guess, it's probably 15 minutes I'd guess. It just seems like FOREVER because I've timed
You should tell he oughta be glad he doesn't live down here ... we have frequently got water restrictions, and water bills get pricey if you use above the target amount (currently its 200litres per person, per day but that's including all household usage like garden, dishwasher, toilet flushing, everything!)

The water management agency really advocates FOUR minute showers here lol and gives you a little sand timer to suction to your wallso you can see how you do lol. Somehow I think your dh would hate australia hehehehe

The biggest water waster in homes though, really is the toilet! Every flush is nearly 4 gallons of water *yikes* The let it mellow really does help with that (we do that even though we have dual flush toilets)

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#24 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 06:54 AM
 
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LOL hour was an exaggeration I guess, it's probably 15 minutes I'd guess. It just seems like FOREVER because I've timed myself I can be in and out in 7 minutes...

Checked our bill, it's $28 for water, $29 for sewer, garbage is $19 Electric was high, but it's always high...we're working on cutting that down...

We have little graphs that show Electirc and Water usage and the bar on the graph is at the very top. Electric is dropping (not surprising since we're not running the a/c) LOL in Aug when DH wasn't able to take showers after his surgery (sponge bath only) we only used 4,000 gallons. We used 6,000 last month.
You are less than $1 per day for water... thats pretty darn good...I think you are a family of 4 soon to be 5... so thats 25c per day per person... sheezez....let the man have his shower with a clean towel LOL

There is a thread going on right now about what 'luxury' you can't give up... maybe showers are your DH's luxury...?

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#25 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 08:48 AM
 
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15 minutes! And only 6000 gallons a month? I take back all my harsh ideas to get him to cut down lol. Swap out the shower head, but 15 minutes doesn't sound excessive imho. Here I thought he was in there for 45.

Electric is a huge money suck. Getting that one down is a big accomplishment.
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#26 of 29 Old 11-06-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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Our household of 4 (three adults, one child) used 4,900 gallons last month and paid $53 for it. That does not include sewer, just water. $13 was "customer charge," $37 was straight water, and $2.50 was some charge that goes to "system improvements."

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#27 of 29 Old 11-07-2009, 12:36 AM
 
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Checked our bill, it's $28 for water, $29 for sewer, garbage is $19 Electric was high, but it's always high...we're working on cutting that down...
As mightly as I have tried I have not had any success getting our water/sewer below $60 a month (we have high water rates.) And like other poster have noted a lot of the charges are related to having water and sewer service not use.

I guess I would be concentrating more on electricity. If I figure correctly you spent $90 on electricity in a month with no AC. My four person family spent about half that (used about 350 kw) last month. Are you heating your hot water with electricity? Do you have electric heat? About a year ago I stopped using my electric drier and have had a pretty big drop in electricity usage.
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#28 of 29 Old 11-07-2009, 04:22 AM
 
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You should tell he oughta be glad he doesn't live down here ... we have frequently got water restrictions, and water bills get pricey if you use above the target amount (currently its 200litres per person, per day but that's including all household usage like garden, dishwasher, toilet flushing, everything!)
We're under that, without really trying. That is, if both kids get a full person's allowance. ;-)

Quote:
The biggest water waster in homes though, really is the toilet! Every flush is nearly 4 gallons of water *yikes*
FOUR gallons??? Wow. You're not allowed to sell a house unless you install toilets that do a max of 1.6 gpf (that's 6 liters) in California, and our dual-flush toilets do even less than that on the lower flush.
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#29 of 29 Old 11-07-2009, 05:52 PM
 
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i work at a small town utility district and everyone gets 10,000 gallons with basic service and then 1.03 per 1,000 gallons above that.

the most water frugal person i know uses about 600 per month.

most families range from 6-10,000 in the winter and up to 120,000 in the summer depending on their garden size. we do live in the high desert so during the summer plants need a lot of water.

just thought i'd put this out there for general usage ideas.

eh. who needs a signature?
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