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Ways to Conserve Water (From The Five Minute Money Manager)

By David Bakke

how to save waterThis is the first installment of a continuing series on fast and easy ways to impact your personal economy. The process of getting out of debt can certainly be overwhelming depending on how far into debt you are. One very important thing that I learned is that taking “baby” steps is just as important as big money-saving changes in your life. What I found to be most helpful are the things that I can change in my daily routine that only take a few minutes. If you can come up with a variety of these, the savings will slowly add up.

Should You Even Bother?

Today I‘d like to focus on water usage. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my father several years ago. I was asking him for ways to save on my water bill and he responded by asking me how much I paid a month for water. I told him about $40. He told me that it’s not worth it to even worry about, since $40 isn’t very much money.

Up To $300 Per Year

Being the frugal person that I am, this exchange motivated me to see how much I could shave down my water bill. By the time I finished, I had my bill down to $14 per month. This translates into saving a little over $300 on an annual basis.

Here are some of the things that I put into place to make this happen:

  • Turn off water while brushing your teeth
  • Turn off water while rinsing dishes
  • Turn off water while shaving
  • Soap up in the shower with the water off
  • Better than turning off the sink water when shaving, shave while showering (at the same time as rinsing off the soap)
  • Run full loads only of dishes and clothes
  • Limit yard watering in summer
  • Adjust water usage of toilets

I Know, I Know

Some of these will involve a conscious effort on your part if they are not currently part of your daily routine. It took me a little bit of time to stop doing all of them. But you can do it with just a little bit of focus. Think about it, all of that water in the first three ideas is just running down the sink. You might as well be throwing money down that drain (pun intended). Turn on the water only when you need to. And if you’ve never tried shaving in the shower, you should. It’s convenient, and even without a mirror you really don’t miss any spots.

Running full loads of clothes and dishes can really impact your bill. I’d say we could all wait an extra day or so before running these appliances just to put a few extra clothes or dishes in.

Also, does the grass in your front yard really need to be a deep dark beautiful green in the middle of July? Have we become that vain? I cut back my watering schedule by at least 30% without a noticeable difference in the appearance of my yard.

Finally, you can adjust the amount of water your toilet releases each time you flush. It takes a little work and I won’t get into how to do it here, but this can also save some money.

Just Five Minutes

These ideas really take no time to implement at all; they just involve a change in habit. So much about getting out of debt involves a change in habit rather than any actual sacrifice. These ideas are fast and simple and can save you money. The positive effect you will have on our environment by using less water is just another reason to try this stuff out. Look for the “Five Minute Money Manager Series” in the future. If you have any water-saving ideas you’d like to add, feel free to do so below.

(photo credit: 21804434@N02)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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Comments

  • Mike Z

    I just filled my pool with 60,000 gallons of city water. I’m concered about the next water bill.

    • david

      Wow–I’d love to see that bill!

      Good luck

  • Paul

    I take issue with shaving in the shower. If you think about it, the shower is running while you are standing there shaving. I’m sure you would use a LOT less water by putting some water in the sink and shaving there.

    • david

      Paul

      You are right on point–I actually meant to put in there to soap yourself while showering with the water off, and shaving at that point in time as well.

      My bad–thanks for pointing it out!

  • http://www.bucksomeboomer.com Bucksome Boomer

    People who don’t directly pay for water because it is included in their rent or HOA fee should realize that they really do pay. Rent and HOA fees will go up if the water bill goes up so they need to conserve as well.

    • david

      Great point!!

      Just because you don’t pay for something out of pocket does not mean you are not paying–thanks for stopping by!

  • Karmella

    My first instinct is to agree with your dad, but thinking it over I think you’re right, it’s a good habit and every little bit helps.

    Trying to get a spouse and/or kids to sign on, that wouldn’t be worth the money savings to me. I envision having to frequently remind them, and I know I’d be annoyed if someone were monitoring my water usage, so I see some potential fights. I’d be all for doing it myself, setting a good example and trying to lead them to it, but I doubt I’d go too hard on it.

    • david

      I think what you can do is set the example and hope they pick up on it. If they don’t, I wouldn’t sweat it

  • Jonathan

    My simple way of using less water to flush the toilet is by filling a two liter soda bottle with water. Place in the tank. This will displace the amount the water that the tank will require and less water per flush. It does not compromise the “flush power” either. Try it!

    • david

      Man–I am filling up my two liter jug in the morning!

      Thanks!! What a great idea for our reeaders as well.

  • Kristy

    If you’ve got old showerheads and faucets, replacing/converting them to low-flow models will not only save you water, but it will save on your energy bills too, as the water heater won’t have to work as much. Not sure how long it would take to pay for itself, but it does seem like a good idea.

    • david

      Yes, you certainly hear about this idea as well–although I’ve yet to price them. Thanks for commenting!

  • http://change-is-possible.net H Lee D

    I agree with Paul — shaving in the shower uses more water than running the water while you shave at the sink.

    A friend of mine uses very little water to shower. She turns the water on to get wet, then turns it off. Shampoo, rinse, water off. Soap up, rinse, water off, shower over.

    • david

      H Lee

      Yep, this is what I meant to put in my post–I am glad you and Paul pointed this out.

  • http://www.leakalertor.com Lauren

    Another great way to save money and water is by detecting toilet leaks early. One silent, slow toilet leak can easily waste 200 gallons of water per day, making toilet leaks are the #1 cause of wasted water in the home. The LeakAlertor makes detecting toilet leaks easy by electronically monitoring your toilet and notifying you visual and audible alerts when the flapper is leaking. It installs in seconds, without tools. Visit www.leakalertor.com.

    • david

      Lauren

      Wow–sounds like a neat tool–I’ll have to check it out.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • Bob

        I got three of the LeakAlertors on QVC and last week in one of my bathrooms it was flashing red so I changed the flapper. There was no sound to the leak but it was leaking, this product has paid for itself already by finding the leak so early. I had a $200 dollar water bill last fall because of a leak and I do not want to ever have that expense again. I can do a lot more with my money than to let it go down the toilet for no reason.

        • david

          Bob

          Gives a new meaning to the phrase “flushing your money down the toilet”, doesn’t it??

          Thanks for sharing, it always nice to know about a newer product that really works!

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