When we moved into our house about ten months ago, we received a copy of the previous owners’ final water bill. Since we’re billed for a three-month cycle, we were shocked to see the previous owners averaging around $60 a month for the last three months in water and sewage fees. This means their family of four (three adults, one toddler) were using about 12,000 gallons of water every month, or 400 gallons each day.
To put that into perspective, a 10-minute shower uses around 30 gallons with a low-flow shower head (which our house has), our clothes washer uses about 30 gallons per load, our toilet uses 3.5 gallons a flush, and our dishwasher averages 15 gallons a load. Even assuming 4 showers, 20 flushes, and a load of clothes and dishes every single day, that’s only 240 gallons. Perhaps someone enjoyed hour-long showers, or the toddler found the sound of flushing toilets amusing. Or worse… our house had an undetectable leak somewhere.
Unfortunately our first six months of water bills were estimated on previous usage, so we had to cough up around $150 every three months to pay our water and sewer bill. A couple of weeks ago, we finally had our first actual water meter reading. Our latest amount due? About negative $220.
That means our actual water usage since we moved in averaged $9 a month, or just under 2,000 gallons of water every 30 days. How do we manage to use only 70 gallons of water a day? It’s really nothing you couldn’t think of yourself:
- We run full dishwasher loads only.
- We take five-minute showers.
- We don’t wash a shirt just because we wore it for two minutes.
- We don’t run water unless it’s being used for something.
Maybe you’re thinking “why isn’t my water bill that low?” The reason is simple, and it’s not all your fault: water is cheap. A gallon of gasoline runs over $3 now, but a gallon of tap water goes for less than a penny. If something costs less than a penny, most people see that as “virtually free.” They might wonder why their water bill is $60 at the end of the month, but that isn’t enough to change the typical family’s water usage habits.
But don’t worry, you’ll soon be paying a couple hundred times more for that water. By 2050, much of the world will face water shortages–even parts of the United States. Maybe when you’re paying for water what you’re now paying for gas, people will start making every drop count.