Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
In summer, water usage can account for as much as 50% or more of your monthly utility bill, depending on where you live. Learning how to conserve water during the hottest months not only can save you money, but it’s good for the planet. It’s doubly important to think about ways to save on water use this summer.
We asked the very savvy experts at Colorado Springs Utilities to give us good advice about how to save water during the summer. They said that the single most important thing consumers can do to conserve water is increase their understanding of the value of water. It’s a finite resource in many places. We don’t have an unlimited supply of water, so we all need to be very careful and deliberate in how we use it.
In addition, here’s what experts say you can do to reduce your water bill this summer.
Summer water-saving tips for indoor use
From the kitchen to the bathroom, you’ll find plenty of places indoors where you can reduce your water bill by using less water this summer. Try these water-saving tips.
1. Fix the drips
One or two drops of water may not seem like a lot, but they add up quickly. Use the American Water Works Association Drip Calculator to measure and estimate water wasted due to leaks. (For example, a faucet with just two drips per minute can waste 105 gallons of water a year.) Instruct your family on how to properly turn off faucets so they don’t drip. If your sink or shower is constantly dripping, even a little, it’s in your interest to spend time fixing it, or call a plumber to do the repair.
2. Install low-flow toilets
Toilets are among the biggest consumers of residential indoor water. Consider installing WaterSense toilets in your home. WaterSense toilets use 1.28 gallons or less per flush, and your qualifying purchase could earn you a rebate on your utility bill in some cities.
3. Take shorter showers
Showering can account for up to 12% of residential water use. Reducing your showering time from eight to five minutes could save you more than 600 gallons per month. A drop in water use that big will definitely have an impact on your water bill, saving you money. Many of us love to cool off with a shower, but consider turning off the water while you soap up or shampoo.
4. Install better shower heads
If you can’t bear to cut your showers by a measly three minutes, at least switch up your shower heads. Install WaterSense shower heads that use less water and you can save up to 2,900 gallons of water per year.
5. Only run the dishwasher when full
Reduce your water bill this summer by only running the dishwasher when it’s full. Select the correct water level for the load, so you don’t use more water than you need. Replace old appliances with Energy Star units to save more money (though not necessarily more water). Your purchase could qualify for a rebate on your utilities bill, and some states offer sales-tax holidays for energy-saving appliances.
6. Look for leaks
Check for hidden water leakage such as a leak between the water meter and the house. To check, turn off all indoor and outdoor faucets and water-using appliances. The water meter should be read at 10- to 20-minute intervals. If it continues to run or turn, a leak probably exists and needs to be located and repaired.
7. Let the dishwasher do the work
Scrape the dishes clean instead of rinsing them before washing. There is no need to rinse unless they are heavily soiled.
8. Wrap your pipes
Insulate all hot-water pipes to reduce the delays (and wasted water) experienced while waiting at the tap for the water to become hot.
Summer water-saving tips for outdoor use
Summer is the time for daily lawn watering and splashy fun for kids. Be smart about your water use to keep your bills low. Try the following tips.
9. Manage your sprinklers
When you water the lawn, think about where you put your sprinklers and when you run them. Place your sprinklers carefully, so you water your lawn and not the house, sidewalk or street. Time the watering properly, so you don’t waste water. Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation. Or, if water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.
10. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting
A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if the grass is closely clipped. You can adjust your lawn mower to cut the lawn shorter or leave it longer. Choose the latter, so you don’t have to water as often. How do you know when you need to water? Look for moisture before watering using a spade or trowel. If it’s still moist 2 inches under the soil surface, the lawn or garden still has enough water.
11. Landscape wisely
Choose shrubs and ground cover instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips. Consider adding drought-tolerant plants that won’t need to be watered as often.
12. Create dry space
Walkways and patios provide space that doesn’t ever need to be watered. These useful “rooms” can also add value to your property. If you’d like to conserve water, consider laying down pavers or flagstones to make a decorative area that is nice to look at, but doesn’t require you to maintain it with water.
Spread a layer of organic mulch around plants. Mulching allows plans to retain moisture and saves water, time and money. It also keeps down weeds.
Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time. Plus, it’s a chore you can get your kids to help you accomplish.
15. Check for leaks
Just as you do indoors, don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks. Fix them right away if you don’t want your water bill to creep upwards.
16. Wash your car elsewhere
It’s so convenient to wash your car in your driveway, especially if you can convince your kids to do the job. But it invariably leads to wasting water. Use a commercial car wash that recycles water. You might find that your water bill savings are enough to justify the cost of the commercial wash.
17. Play smart
When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most. Or encourage them to play when you’re already watering the lawn, rather than turning the sprinklers on a second time. Invite the neighborhood kids, so each individual family isn’t running sprinklers for play at the same time.