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There are a lot of different ways to save money, but changes that you make to reduce your recurring monthly bills have a huge impact. Instead of just saving money once, you can save money each and every month. At the end of the year, add up the total, and you’ll be surprised at the impact you can have just with some simple changes to your daily routine.
In the past few weeks I’ve published articles on ways to save money on gas and ways to save money on electricity. Those are two consistent expenses that we all have (unless you don’t drive a car), and two areas where you can make a big difference in your budget.
Another recurring expense is the water bill. With some small changes you can use significantly less water with only a small impact on your life. And best of all, you’ll save money each month! The end result is you’ll save hundreds of dollars a year by implementing some of the tips in this article.
→ Related reading: How to Create a Budget That Works (plus free budget template download)
Of course, we all use a lot of water in the kitchen. It’s necessary, but here are some easy ways to minimize the amount of water that you use.
Many of us get in the habit of rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. You should only be rinsing dishes if they’re really dirty and won’t be cleaned by the dishwasher alone. Otherwise it’s just a waste of water (and a waste of time).
Don’t run the dishwasher if it is only partially full. Wait until it is totally full, and you can easily cut down on the number of times you run it each month. Not only will you reduce the amount of water that you use, but you’ll also save on electricity.
Not all dishwashers use the same amount of water. When it comes time to replace your dishwasher, or if you’re building a new house, be sure that you buy one that is efficient. According to Consumer Reports, over a 10-year life cycle and Energy Star rated dishwasher will save at least 1,600 gallons of water. Remember to check the ratings and specs of any appliance that you buy.
One way to save water is to use fewer dishes, or in this case, glasses. Rather than getting a new glass every time you need a drink, use one glass all day. Each person in your home can use one glass all day, and at the end of the day you’ll have fewer dishes to wash. It’s amazing how many glasses and cups can wind up in the dishwasher if you’re not paying attention to this.
Garbage disposals are nice, but the more you run it, the more water you’ll be using. You don’t need to use any water just to throw something in the trash. Only use the garbage disposal if some food gets down in there, or if you really need to for some other reason. But in general, just throw it in the trash can instead.
Pots and pans can take a lot of effort to clean. It’s usually a lot easier to clean them if they’ve soaked for a while before you attempt to wash them. You’ll spend less time, do less scraping, and use a lot less water.
You can simply put some water and add a small amount of baking soda and let it soak. Another trick that my mom taught me is to put some water and a small amount if dish soap in the pot or pan, and leave it on the stove while the stove is still a little hot (after it’s turned off). The heat and soap will work together to loosen some of the food, making it easier to clean.
The bathroom is another area where we all use a lot of water. Here are some tips you can put into practice today to start reducing that amount.
Low-flow shower heads use significantly less water than a standard shower head. And, despite what you may be thinking, it’s really not a very noticeable difference with the good low-flow shower heads. You won’t notice much of a difference, but you’ll make a big reduction in the amount of water you use. According to some calculations, you can save well over $100 per year with a low-flow shower head. And it will also save you money on electricity or gas if you’re heating less water for the shower.
Do you turn on the water in the shower and then walk away and do something else while the water warms up? This can be a bad habit because you can easily let the water run too long before you even get in. Make an effort to be more aware of when the water is warm, and get in as soon as possible to waste less water.
If you do let the water run for a minute or two to warm up before you get in, you can still get some use out of that water. Put a bucket in the shower to collect that water that is running before you get in. Then, use that to water the plants, or for some other purpose around the house. It’s an easy change, and it can save water every day.
In general, showers use less water than baths. If you want to save water, skip the baths and only take showers. Of course, for young kids baths are probably needed.
When you do take a bath, or when you’re giving your kids a bath, don’t fill up the tub all the way. There’s no need to use a huge amount of water.
This is something I need to work on. When I give my kids a bath I usually turn on the water and let it run longer than needed. Recently I’ve been more aware it, and I’ve found that I can use significantly less water and it really doesn’t make a difference for the bath.
Since showers are a major use of water, if you can reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower each day it will have a big impact. Try to reduce even a minute or two from your usual shower, and over the course of a year you’ll save a lot of water, and money.
A low flow toilet is another easy way to reduce the amount of water that you use every single day. When it comes time to replace the toilets in your home, be sure to get one that uses only a small amount of water for each flush.
Toilets that use 1.6 gallons of water, or less, per flush can carry the WaterSense sticker. The toilets can work just as well as toilets that use more water, they’re just more efficient and they save you money.
It’s very common for toilets, especially older ones, to have small leaks. To test your toilet you can simply put some food coloring into the water in the tank, and if you see that color bleeding into the bowl within a few minutes that means that you have a leak. A leak will be slowly, but constantly, wasting water. The fix is usually pretty simple, and you can follow this DIY guide.
Don’t get in the habit of throwing tissues and other small trash in the toilet and flushing it. If you’re using the toilet as a trash can you’re wasting water and money. Use the trash can for the trash, and reduce the number of times you flush the toilet each day.
If you want your toilet to use less water each time it flushes and fills, there are a few tricks. First, you can put a plastic bottle or jug filled with water in the tank. This will displace the water in the tank and will trick the toilet into using less water to fill up. Some people put bricks in the tank for this reason, but don’t do that! Bricks can crumble and damage the toilet or your pipes.
Another option, as mentioned here, is to slightly bend the float rod downward so it shuts off the water sooner when it is filling up.
Brushing your teeth is a good habit. But leaving the water running while you’re doing it is a bad habit. Many people do this, and it’s an easy change that you can make to save some water. Just run the water long enough to get it on the toothbrush, then turn it off until you need it again.
Laundry is another area where most families use a lot of water, especially if you have kids. It’s amazing how much laundry needs to be done for our family of 4! Here are some tips that can help to reduce it.
Don’t run the washing machine for a partial load. Wait until you have a full load, and you’ll find that you wash fewer loads and save water. If you’ve got a family with kids you won’t have to wait very long to have a full load. If you’re single or living by yourself, you may need to make some small adjustments to your habits to wait for a full load.
You don’t need to use a new towel every time you take a bath or shower. Reuse a towel for a few days before washing it. If you have a family and everyone changes from using a new towel every day to using the same towel for a few days, you’ll see a quick reduction in the loads of laundry each week.
Many of us are in the habit of automatically throwing clothes in the hamper as soon as we take them off. But in a lot of cases, the clothes won’t need to be washed yet. If you go through multiple outfits in a day, you may only wear something for a few hours and it may not need to be washed yet.
It seems like my kids go through about 5 outfits a day (that’s an exaggeration). Of course, sometimes they change because their clothes got dirty, but there are plenty of times when they take off clothes that can easily be worn again before being washed.
If, for some reason, you need to wash a a partial load, adjust the setting for a smaller load, which will use less water. Some washing machines also have a setting for an extra rinse cycle. Skipping this extra cycle will save water.
The tips in this section aren’t specific to any particular room in your house, but they can all have a significant impact.
If any of your faucets, indoor or outdoor, are leaking… fix them! Even small, slow drips add up to a lot of water over a period of time.
If the pipes that carry hot water are insulated, the water will remain hot for a longer period of time. The result can be that you won’t need to let the water run as long to heat up, since water in the pipes is already warmer.
Most water heaters are set to heat the water to 140 degrees, by default. There’s really no reason the water needs to be that hot, and you’ll probably never use it that hot. So that means that you’re wasting electricity or gas heating the water more than necessary. But reducing the temperature to about 120 degrees can also help you to save water. When the water is too hot you’ll wind up running the cold water to cool down the hot water, which results in wasting water.
Aerators that screw on to the end of a faucet will reduce the amount of water that comes out, saving you money (and you probably won’t even notice the difference). Some f your faucets probably already have aerators, but for those that don’t you can typically add one pretty easily.
Do you use a dehumidifier in your house? Many homes, ours included, need dehumidifiers in the basement during summer months. Rather than just dumping the water you can put it to good use by watering plants.
It’s important to note that some companies that manufacture dehumidifiers do not recommend this, since the buckets can become dirty. But if you search the internet pretty much everyone else says it is fine to use this water for plants.
There are also some ways that you can reduce the amount of water that is used outside. Here are some tips.
If you want to minimize the amount of water that you use, skip watering the lawn, or at least only do it when it’s really needed. Watering the lawn can take a lot of water, so cutting back here can make a noticeable difference in your bill.
If you do water the lawn or a garden, do it when the temperature is cooler. If you water during the heat of the day, the water will evaporate faster and less of it will be absorbed. You can get the same results with less water if you do it early in the morning or late at night.
When you’re deciding on plants for your landscaping, consider how much water they will need. Opt for plants that need less water when possible.
An easy way to save on water if you’re gardening, or if you have a lot of plants, is to simply collect rainwater and reuse it. You can buy a simple rain barrel, or just use something that you already have around the house.
One of the main reasons to use mulch is that it naturally holds moisture. If you have mulch around your plants you can get away with watering them less, because the mulch will help to keep it from drying out too quickly.
Start putting these tips into practice today, and you can see a noticeable difference in your water bill as soon as next month. Once you’ve changed some habits you’ll be able to save every single month.
Disclosure: Information presented on Vital Dollar and through related email marketing is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be taken as financial advice. Please see our Disclosure for further information.
I've been working in internet marketing full-time since 2008. I started VitalDollar.com to share from my experience and to help others who want to improve their own financial situation. You can read my full bio here.
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