The average Canadian household consumes about 251 liters of water per person. At this rate, Canada ranks in the top three per capita users of fresh water out of any country in the world.
To look at it another way, Canadians are likely using more water than they need and therefore spending more than they should. As evidenced by the amount of water consumed after the installation of water meters became more prominent (342 liters in 1991 compared to 251 liters in 2011), it goes to show Canadians are concerned about their water bills.
While having a pricing model that is based on the actual amount of water that is used each month (as with the water meter system) does help deter many from wasting water, there are other ways to save money on the water bill each month. All it takes is the adoption of some good habits that save water and we will share some of these below.
1. Check for leaks around the toilet and sinks
One of the biggest culprits for wasted water and money are leaks around the toilet and sinks. In fact, Canadian Geographic says that even a minor leak can waste as much as 75 liters of water each day.
To check your toilet for leaks, simply remove the tank, drop some colored dye (like blue food coloring) into the tank, and wait for 15 minutes without flushing. If there is dye in the bowl you have a leak and should call a plumber as it could be costing you a lot of money each month.
Detecting faucet leaks is a bit more straightforward but there are less obvious spots than the spout itself. Still, the spout should be the first place you look to determine if there are drips occurring throughout the day. The base of the faucet is a less obvious place where leaks may exist and this can be determined by drying up the area, then checking back to see if water has accumulated around the base. Finally, sink leaks under the counter are the hardest to detect but are a common area where this may occur. If you suspect a leak but can’t visibly see it (or water beneath the pipes), place a dry paper towel under the area and check back for accumulation later.
If any of these issues are evident, contact your plumber as they will likely be able to correct the leakage quickly and put an end to any further waste.
2. Only use full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washer
This tip is based on the simple idea that the less you use these two appliances, the less water you will use. Another way to save money on your water bill, in regards to the dishwasher, is to stop pre-washing dishes in the sink. You’ll find that most dishwashers will effectively remove all the food off your dishes without pre-washing them first, resulting in water savings.
For the clothes washer, you should try to use it with full loads only as to not waste water. Even though you might be tempted to wash that small load of gym clothes, you may be costing yourself extra bucks on your water bill each month. If you are not using an Energy Star qualified appliance, you may be spending over $135 each year on this wasted water. If your washer has a water adjustment feature, this would also be a great way to save money as you could adjust the setting according to your loads.
3. Install water-saving shower heads
We are all guilty of taking a long, hot shower every once in a while (especially on those really cold mornings). But did you know that during the typical shower up to 30 percent of water is wasted as well as energy to fuel the hot water heater? It’s true, showering can use over 15 percent of the fresh water in your home, and if 30 percent of this is unused, you could be wasting a large percentage of your water bill on something that, quite literally, goes down the drain.
The solution to saving water – and money – is really simple. Install a water-saving shower head. These modestly-priced items can reduce the flow rate significantly while still providing enough water to take a comfortable shower. Visit your local home improvement store to see what water-saving shower heads are available and check out this article for more information on devices that automatically turn off the water while awaiting hot water, recover heat from hot water that goes to your drain, and cuts down on the cold water that runs when you turn the shower on.
4. Water the lawn during early parts of the day
You can save money on your water bill with some good habits outdoors too. One of the most popular ways is to run your sprinklers (or hose) early in the morning rather than in the middle of the day. Early morning watering helps to reduce the amount of water that is lost to evaporation. It is also said that watering earlier in the day – as opposed to at dusk – helps prevent the growth of fungus as well as prevents slugs and other garden pests.
5. Regularly place and replace mulch around plants
As much as 50 percent of your fresh water bill can be used up keeping your lawn and plants alive. This is an obvious area to try and minimize waste and save money and can be done with the placement of mulch around plants.
Mulch helps to reduce evaporation and also aids in keeping the soil underneath cool. Mulch is easy to add around plants, is fairly inexpensive (about $7 a bag), keeps weeds out, and adds nutrients to the soil. What you are really after is the water savings you’ll be getting, but adding mulch is a good investment that helps reduce the amount of water needed to keep plants healthy. Learn more about the types of mulch that are best for your plants here.
How much can You Save?
According to some sources, the amount the average Canadian spends on utilities each month (to include water, electricity, heating and garbage) is $160.45. By developing some good habits around the indoors and outdoors of your home you’ll be able to take dollars off the percentage of your water bill each month and perhaps your energy bill (as we saw with the shower example).
Shaving off the amount we waste from leaks, half loads of laundry, the shower, and our lawns can add up to big gains at the end of the year. In addition to the money you’ll save you can feel good about doing your part to preserve a limited resource that too many of us take for granted.