Just bought a new home? You may be surprised to learn that water is expensive, and the costs keep rising.
In fact, one study found that “in the past seven years, water rates have climbed more than 50 percent on average” for a family of four living in one of 30 large US cities. The average monthly cost of water in those cities ranged between $70 and $112 per month for a family of four using, respectively, between 100 and 150 gallons of water per person per day. And these amounts do not factor in sewer and storm water fees, which the same study showed “can drive up a family’s monthly water bill by $100 or more.”
Of course, 100-150 gallons of water per person per day is on the low side of total usage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA estimates that “the average American family” (or 3.14 persons in 2018) “uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home.” For a family of four, that is at least 12,000 gallons per month in water going down the drain. For a quick way to estimate your family's monthly water usage in your new home take the five-minute survey at watercalculator.org and learn your water footprint.
Whether you’re a first-time homeowner, or your home is new-to-you, you’re going to want to take steps to avoid paying high water bills that are growing ever higher, especially in summertime. You’ll be happy to know there are many ways you can save money and conserve water around your yard and garden.
9 Ways You Can Save Water This Summer
- Water your lawn either in early morning or at dusk to reduce the amount of water that will otherwise evaporate if you water in the heat of the day. Less evaporation means less water needed.
- Check your irrigation system once per week in the summer to ensure it’s watering your lawn and not wasting water on the side of your house or a sidewalk.
- Add a drip irrigation system for gardens and plants. The EPA estimates it “can save up to 30,000 gallons of water per year, which is about three times what the average landscape consumes.”
- Raise the cutting deck on your mower in summertime to keep the grass a little higher. This allows the soil to retain moisture and the roots to strengthen, which can help your lawn handle less watering.
- Replace plants with drought-tolerant ones.
- Choose native plants that are adapted to your area. Your local nursery can help recommend plants.
- Group plants with similar water needs.
- Place mulch around plants to act as a barrier between sun and soil, slowing down evaporation. Mulching also makes for better water absorption, so less water is needed for your plants.
- Keep weeds from sucking up the water meant for your plants. Even if you mulch, you still should pull weeds to keep them from stealing soil moisture from the plants you like.
- Set up rainwater barrels so you can use the water you capture for your garden. The EPA estimates that one rain barrel can save “about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.”
- Keep a watering can by your sink and when you’re running water, or waiting for it to heat up, capture that cool water in the can and use it to water your container plants or houseplants.
- Adding compost to your garden helps the soil retain moisture, so you don’t have to water as often. (Plus, if you compost, you’ll use your garbage disposal less often, saving the water that goes down the drain whenever you use it.)
- If you have a pool, keep it covered any time you’re not using it, especially in summer. The cover helps keep water from evaporating, which reduces the amount of water you need to refill a pool by 30%–50%.
- Look out for and fix leaks around outside faucet bibs, hoses, sprinklers, and drip systems. Think a little drip doesn’t matter? Studies show a faucet drip of one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water in a year.
- Can’t fix a leak right away? Capture the water for reuse until you can get to it.
As you look around your yard and garden for other ways you can conserve water, another tip to consider is creating container gardens in some areas. They require much less watering and can easily be connected to a drip system. Here are tips that can help: Creating Beautiful Container Gardens in Small Spaces.