Have you noticed that your water bill is significantly higher than normal? Water bills may go up for a number of reasons throughout the year, such as increased use for gardening purposes in the summer.
These variations should be minimal and return to normal. When your water bill continues to get higher and higher, it’s a sign of a problem. Let’s get to the bottom of it.
In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:
- Standard residential water use
- Causes of a high water bill
- What to do if you have a high water bill
|What's In This Guide?
Standard Residential Water Use
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average US family uses 300 gallons of water each day. This is spread out the following ways:
- Toilets – 24%
- Shower – 20%
- Faucets – 19%
- Washer – 17%
- Leaks – 12%
- Other – 8%
86% of people receive city water, meaning their water service is bill-based. Water meters gauge each resident’s water usage. You can usually find your water meter outside by your main water line or on the outside of your home. Water prices vary from location to location and the amount of water used in the household.
The rest of the population gets their water from a private well. While wells eliminate the water bill, the homeowner takes on the responsibility for the water quality. Even if you don’t have a spike in costs, you still want to reduce waste.
Why is Your Water Bill so High??
The answer to why your water bill is so high will come down to one of these three things.
- Increased usage due to seasonality or guests
- A water leak
- Wasteful usage
We are going to set aside the idea of seasonality or guests, as you can likely determine that yourself. We’re now going to discuss the other two culprits behind high water bills. Leaks, and careless usage.
Causes of a High Water Bill: Water Leaks
Hidden Water Leak
Unresolved leaks can lead to a lot of water loss. This goes for even a small leak or nearly undetectable pinhole leaks. Water leaks don’t fix themselves. Instead, a leak that only causes a gallon of water waste per day will eventually grow to the point of wasting exponentially more water over time.
Some leaks are easy to spot until your high water bill alerts you. You will likely notice water leaking from your toilet or a leaky faucet right away. However, other leaks, especially underground leaks in water supply lines and slab leaks beneath your floor are much more difficult to detect.
You may experience an underground leak thanks to old plumbing pipes if you have an older home. These can be located deep in your pipes, and unseen. Over time, all metal pipes corrode.
Even long-lasting PVC pipe and PEX pipe can accumulate sediment buildup and calcium deposits from hard water. Both activities cause a hidden leak. While a water softener can help prolong the inevitable, pipes all need attention over time.
Toilet leaks develop as a result of harsh cleaning agents or other factors eating at the seal around it. Once the seal deteriorates, the leaking toilet will produce water on the floor around it.
Leaky faucets usually happen at the handle after heavy use and years of sediment buildup and corrosion.
Your toilet sends water from the toilet tank to fill the toilet bowl every time you flush. After the supply line fills the tank with water again, it closes the fill valve. If the valve breaks, the toilet may continue to run and will waste water. The extra water will escape from an overflow tube or eventually fill the tank until it overflows.
Another common culprit is a flapper that needs to be changed. If it loses its seal, water will slowly escape causing much higher usage. This can add up over time, and one reason why homeowners should check and/or change their toilet flapper every 3-5 years.
Some people have a green thumb and use an irrigation system in their garden. The irrigation system provides water to the soil to promote lush vegetation growth. The irrigation system itself uses a substantial amount of water. It will waste even more water if it has a leak somewhere.
Additional Water Use
If you have extended house guests or large parties at different points throughout the year, they will contribute to water use when they use the toilet or take showers. You may also use more water in the summer when you tend to your garden or your pool.
What To Do If You Have a High Water Bill
When you have a high water bill, you need to take leak detection steps to determine the source of the problem.
First, check your water meter to determine water usage.
Perform a visual inspection where you look for leaks and signs of water damage, such as a dripping faucet or a toilet leak.
Next, you can perform a hydrostatic plumbing pressure test to confirm if you have a water leak or not. Depending upon the suspected location, you can also use an endoscope with a locator to look deeper into your plumbing system. However, that is difficult to do on supply lines where leaks often originate.
If you do find a leak or a problem somewhere in your plumbing system, you need to hire professional plumbing services to fix the problem if it’s not easily accessible. If the problem lies in the ground under the yard in supply lines, you’ll want to consider trenchless water line replacement to save money.
Additional Ways to Save on Your Water Consumption: Water Conservation
Here are some great tips to save money on your water bill when it comes to conservation:
Energy Efficient Appliances
When it’s time to replace your water heater before it fails or upgrade your washing machine, you should make a point to replace it with an energy-efficient version. There are many appliances and even low pressure faucets designed to use less water.
Look for the Energy Star sticker when buying new appliances, such as a tankless water heater or dishwasher. The Energy Star sticker means the product meets the EPA’s standards and can be legally considered an “energy-efficient” product.
Not only will you save money on your water bill, but you’ll also potentially qualify for tax credits. You’ll also get to use the Energy Star appliances to sell your house as a green home. Learning how to save water in the bathroom will pay water bill dividends, as this is where most of it gets used.
Most modern faucets for your bathroom sink and kitchen sink contain an aerator, which is a small item installed at the very edge of the spout that helps control water flow. Some are visible, while other aerators are recessed.
Worried about low flow faucets not being able to clean the way you expect? Don’t be.
An aerator mixes in air with the water so that the water pressure remains the same despite the faucet using less water. This one can help you save between 30% and 70%!
There are some pretty awesome options on the market, including universal swivel splash faucet filters. These will provide water aeration, and even help you grab a quick drink.
Low Flow Toilets
Many toilets offer a dual flush option that gives users two flush options: one regular flow button and one low flow option. We like this one.
When low flow toilets first came out users complained about the lack of power required for a complete and clean flush.
Manufacturers began producing toilets with both options so that users can decide what makes them the most comfortable with each use. The new options are great.
Change of Habits
Sometimes quick habit changes can make a big difference.
Some additional actions you can take to reduce water use at home include:
- Take shorter showers with efficient shower heads
- Turn off the water when brushing your teeth and shaving
- Perform seasonal drain cleaning
- Dispose of grease and cooking oil properly (as well as food waste, clay masks, and toothpaste) to avoid a drain clog
- Fix leaks immediately
- Water your lawn carefully (avoid the pavement)
- Avoid half-full loads of laundry and dishes
- Talk to children about the importance of water conservation
- Prevent freezing pipes with a freeze-proof outdoor bib or outdoor faucet covers
Final Thoughts on High Water Bills
The main cause of a sustained high water bill is extra water usage due to a water leak somewhere in your plumbing system. Whether the leak is coming from an underground pipe or a constantly running toilet, you need to take action right away before the problem gets worse.
The good news is that you can resolve the problem once you notice it, and a high bill is helpful when it draws attention to an unseen problem. Simply identify the problem and take steps to fix it to help eliminate water waste in the future.
Meet Your Plumbing Navigator
About Plumbing Navigator
We’re passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!
Learn More Plumbing Tips
Want to tackle more plumbing projects? Check out these helpful guides!