During this time of higher grocery costs, astronomical gas prices, and general inflation, having a water bill increase can be especially frustrating. Fortunately, though, many times there are easy solutions to the problem. The trick? Knowing what you’re dealing with instead of guessing. So if you’re asking yourself, “Why is my water bill so high?,” here are five potential reasons.
1. You have a leak
Leaks are one of the main contributors to high water bills. It makes sense, too. If you think about the parts of your home that use the most water, your bathroom, kitchen, and outdoor watering system probably come to mind. What you may not realize, though, is that leaks don’t always appear as obvious drips or puddles. Here are some indicators that you may be dealing with an issue.
While water pooling on the floor is an indicator of one type of toilet leak, other, more common leaks aren’t as apparent. The issue stems from the toilet running too much, so to check, flush your toilet and time how long it takes for the whooshing sound to stop. If it’s more than 20 or 30 seconds, chances are the toilet is over-running. Another indicator may be a hissing sound coming from the toilet.
You can also perform a dye test. This is when you take some food coloring and put a few drops in the toilet’s tank. Wait around 15 minutes and see if the color has made its way to the bowl. If it has, there’s a leak allowing tank water to flow into the bowl.
The good news? Toilet leaks are usually easy to fix. Go to your local hardware store and ask for a new flapper. Installing a new flapper won’t take long, even for novice DIYers.
|Q: What uses the most water in a home?|
A: According to the EPA, toilets are the main source of water use in our homes, accounting for almost 30% of total indoor home usage. So if your toilet is overworking itself or has a leak, it can create thousands of gallons of wasted water — and a big ’ol water bill.
We all know the sound — the slow and steady drip, drip, drip. You may be wondering, “Can a dripping faucet increase my water bill? Surely those little drops don’t amount to much.” But actually, the reality may surprise you.
While those drips may seem insignificant, they can actually cause a few gallons of wasted water per day. Just take a look at this drip calculator to get a more exact estimate. It’s not as costly as a toilet leak, but a leaky faucet isn’t something to ignore.
Fortunately, unlike toilets, leaky faucets are easy to spot. If you notice a drippy culprit, try to close the faucet tightly. If the dripping continues, chances are the washer needs to be replaced. For that job, you may want to get a pro to help (faucets can sometimes be unnecessarily tricky).
Leaky pipes are major contributors to household water waste. The problem is that these leaks aren’t as noticeable as ones coming from the fixtures inside your home. But a big warning sign? That big water bill. Other signs include:
- Mold growing on walls in the bathroom or kitchen
- Foundation cracks
- A musty smell
- Water marks on your ceiling, floors, or walls
Run a quick home test by shutting off all the water in your home. If you do that but your water meter is still moving, you probably have a pipe leak. Even if your house is outfitted with durable copper pipes, you could have a pinhole leak.
What causes pinhole leaks in copper pipes? Pinhole leaks in copper pipe happen when corrosive material on the inside wears through the metal. The hole starts small (thus the name “pinhole”) but grows larger over time, allowing more and more water to run through.
Of course, the hope is that it will take a quick, simple fix to remedy a pipe leak. However, the reality is that you may need to prepare for a larger-scale renovation. If you have pinhole leaks in your copper pipes that have been leaking and causing water damage for some time, you may need to enlist the help of a plumber and drywall installer to fully repair the issue. For bigger jobs like these, consider using a PODS portable storage container right on your property to securely store things out of the way while the work is done.
2. You’re using more water than you think
In the U.S., we’re fortunate to take safe water access for granted. But even though it may seem like our planet has an endless supply of water, only 1% is actually suitable for human use. But with the average American family using more than 300 gallons of water per day (with 70% of that usage occurring indoors), we’ve got a more precious resource on our hands than perhaps we realize.
To optimize household water use, it helps to be aware of some common water wasting habits:
- Leaving the faucet running while you brush your teeth
- Running the tap until it gets hot or cold
- Not covering your pool in the off season
- Running your laundry machine or dishwasher when it’s not full
- Taking long baths and/or showers
- High-flow appliances
|Q: Why is my house using so much water?|
A: There are several reasons for high water consumption — and correspondingly high water bills. While leaks are the most common reason for water waste, activity or seasonality can contribute to increased usage. Also, look at other changes in your daily routine to spot the issue. Hosting house guests or watering your lawn more often can lead to an uptick in running water.
3. Your hot water heater is having issues
Any appliance in your home that relies on water can be a potential source of water waste if there’s an unaddressed problem. And since your water heater holds a large amount of water, if there’s a leak, disconnected component, or overdue maintenance, the inefficiency can significantly increase your water usage. If your water heater is outdated, get it replaced. It costs more in the short-term, but it’ll help you save on bills in the long run.
4. Your town has increased its water rates
According to a 2021 study from Bluefield Research, water rates are increasing faster than other household utilities, with an average hike of 4.2% a year. With rates rising across the nation, the surprising statistic that water waste contributes to an estimated 60% of the typical water bill becomes even more eye opening. So if you’re noticing a higher bill, tap into your analytical side to get to the root of the issue. Check your personal water usage, but also note if your community has implemented an overall rate increase.
5. You have a faulty water meter
If your water usage is unchanged, your city hasn’t implemented a rate hike, and you have a high water bill with no visible leaks, the problem may be that you have an issue with your water meter.
This isn’t a common problem, but it’s also not unheard of. To test your water meter, turn off your water. If you’re certain that water isn’t running, but your water meter is still moving, your meter may be inaccurate. To double-check your test, take a milk jug or other large liquid measuring tool and fill a tub with multiple gallons of water (and keep track of how much you put in). Then, check your water meter to see how many gallons it noted. If they’re unequal, call your city utility board and request a replacement.
It’s time to be more energy efficient
If you’ve addressed any water waste and eliminated the issue, this is still a great time to improve the overall energy efficiency of your home. Look for low-flow appliances, research ENERGY STARⓇ options and find ways to change or modify your daily habits. Your environment — and your wallet — will thank you.
LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS Blog contributor, she’s a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she’s not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.