As the nation grapples with the problems brought on by global warming, cities throughout the nation are struggling to keep water rates affordable for residents. Nationwide, residential water rates in some areas have doubled or even tripled over the last 12 years, according to a recent USA Today analysis.
In the never-ending battle to keep wallets from getting too thin, many people are starting to rethink how they use their water resources. Much of the waste that occurs in two places: at the faucet and the shower head. Apartment Therapy recently found out that most Americans use a whopping 20 gallons of water on average as they shower, in spite of the existence of low-flow (2.5 gallons per minute) shower heads in most homes. Meanwhile, Americans spend roughly 14 percent of their monthly energy bill on maintaining hot water.
Whether you own a home or rent, it’s not hard to find small yet significant ways of saving both hot water and the energy bills that come with it.
Ways to Save Money
Something as simple as fixing a leaky faucet or a shower saves you plenty of money in the long run. A recent study from Michigan State University revealed that one drip of water per second from a leaky faucet eventually costs around $1 per month. You can tighten the vast majority of leaks with a simple monkey wrench. If a leak is in a hard to reach spot, you’ll need to contact a licensed and trusted plumber for assistance.
Changing your water usage habits goes a long way towards reducing costs. For instance, you can limit the amount of time you take for a simple shower, install a low-flow shower head or both. These devices range from $10 to approximately $150, but the average homeowner or apartment renter can install a low-flow shower head on their own.
After bathing, washing clothes is the next biggest consumer of hot water. Installing a high-efficiency washer can help cut the amount of hot water normally used by over half. On older washers, using the warm wash/cold rinse setting also helps you save over half the energy you’d use with the hot wash/warm rinse setting.
If you’re a homeowner, you can take advantage of the benefits a high-efficiency hot water heater offers. Energy Star notes that these water heaters use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models. If you’re looking towards installing a high-efficiency hot water heater, you’re better off hiring a professional HVAC and plumbing technician to get the job done.
Enter the Aerated Shower Head
Apartment living presents its own set of unique challenges. Whereas homeowners can target water waste at the water heater and plumbing level, there’s not much renters can do to cut back on their water usage. Fortunately, things like ultra low flow aerators hold the key to helping renters save on their water bills while providing them with the luxurious shower they want.
While most people associate low-flow shower heads with paltry, lukewarm drizzles, aerators provide strong water flow by forcing air through the shower head. Users get a stronger stream without the water waste and the high utility bills that come with it. At $2 to $10 at most home improvement stores, these devices are exceptionally cheap. With simple instructions, you can install one on your own. On the other hand, an aerator tends to make warm water feel cooler, prompting users to crank up the hot water unnecessarily. Some devices settle that issue by sensing water temperature and controlling the flow accordingly.