How to save money on your water bill — Seven easy and inexpensive tips for fixing leaks

March 16, 2023

Dripping faucet

Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more of water each day.

That drip of your tap or silent draining of your toilet can be easy enough to overlook, but just like the subscriptions and automatic renewals that nickel and dime your bank account, these seemingly minor leaks trickle away water supply (and cost money).

“The first step in conserving water is fixing leaks,” says Deirdre Irwin, Water Conservation Coordinator with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Minor water leaks account for nearly 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year in U.S. homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The leaks in an average household can add up to 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. That’s the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.

In Florida, where we have so many water-dependent ecosystems, wasted water adds unnecessary demands on Florida’s aquifer (our drinking water supply) and the springs, rivers, wetlands and lakes it supports.

March 20–26 is for Fix a Leak Week, EPA’s nationwide effort to highlight the ease and importance of finding household leaks in and around your house. Find the following leak detection and repair tips to help you save water (and money) around your house. Most fixes are easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself projects.

Indoor leaks

  • Toilets: Fix your flapper — Toilet flapper, that is. Toilet flappers only last around five years before starting to leak. To test if your toilet flapper needs replacing, add a leak detector tablet (or food coloring) to the tank and wait 10–15 minutes. If there’s color in the bowl, it indicates a leaky flapper.
  • Faucets: A drop per second leak can waste 2,700 gallons a year. The culprit is often a worn washer (aerator) — the good news is, it is easy to fix!
  • Showerheads: Ten drips per minute adds up to 500 gallons per year. If your showerhead is leaking, ensure it’s screwed on tightly and if it needs replacing, opt for a water-saving low-flow showerhead.

Outdoor leaks

  • Faucets and hose spigots are oftentimes the source of outdoor leaks. If you find a leaky faucet, turn off the water at the shut-off valve and change the washer.
  • If your garden hose is leaking at the connection to the spigot, replace the hose washer (just inside the coupling), and tighten it.
  • If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check for soft wet spots on your lawn. An irrigation system with a leak 1/32 of an inch can waste 6,200 gallons per month.
  • If you have a pool, watch for warning signs, including loose tiles, cracks in the pool shell, constantly soggy soils surrounding the pool, and algae growth too soon after chemical treatment. Also, check the pool’s shut-off valve to ensure it is operating correctly.
Image with watering tips

Another option is to use your water meter to check for leaks. Turn off all faucets and water-using appliances and ensure water is not being used during this testing period (including automatic ice makers and water heaters). Go to the water meter and record the current reading. After 30 minutes without using water, read the meter again. If the reading has changed, there is a leak.

If you are having trouble finding leaks, reach out to your local utility. Many have programs to assist customers in finding leaks. Some utilities even go so far as to contact you if they suspect a leak. By monitoring water meters and contacting customers if they see unusual usage, one north Florida utility has saved 327.784 million gallons of water from December 2014 to October 2022. This program has reached 26,537 customers, helping them save an average of $59.48 per month on their utility bills.

To take your water savings a step further, check out the interactive water conservation survey on our website. You can enter information about your daily water use and find areas where you can save.

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