Managing Your Water Bill in the Time of Coronavirus

As of March 26, the Public Utility Commission of Texas ruled that Investor Owned Utilities cannot disconnect water or electric utilities for non-payment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re having trouble paying your water bill, contact your local utility provider to ask for a deferred payment.

Even if you defer payment, however, you will continue to receive your water bill during your shelter-in-place. Unfortunately, those bills will probably be a little higher than you’d like. After all, you’re probably spending all your time at home washing your hands and doing seemingly endless dishes. Believe it or not, however, you don’t have to accept a high water bill while sheltering in place! If you can take a few easy steps to lower your daily water usage, you may counteract the effects of staying at home. We can help! Here are a few easy, effective ways to lower your water bill during shelter-in-place:

Turn off the sink while washing your hands

close-up of person washing hands

The more you wash your hands the more important this tip is, which means it’s absolutely critical right now. It’s also just about the simplest way to save on your water bill imaginable. When you wash your hands, wet the soap with water from the faucet, then turn the faucet off. Lather your hands in the soap for around 20 seconds, then turn the faucet back on to rinse.

You might be amazed at how much water this can save. Bathroom faucets use 1-3 gallons of water every minute they’re running. If three people leave the faucet running for 15 seconds each of the six times they wash their hands a day, they’re wasting four and a half minutes of running water, or up to 13 and a half gallons, every day. That’s 418 and a half gallons of water saved in May… and a whole lot of saved money on your water bill.

Fix drips and leaks

That little dripping isn’t just driving you nuts during your quarantine… it’s also stealing your money. Even the smallest imaginable plumbing leak wastes a surprising amount of water (again, read: money). A single faucet dripping once every 15 seconds wastes almost two liters of water a day–or 138 gallons of water per year. That may not sound like much yet… but how often is your faucet dripping? And how many faucets are dripping at once?

While dripping faucets are probably the most common plumbing leak, they aren’t the only ones to worry about. If you notice water pooling around fixtures such as your faucet handles, tub faucet, or showerhead, then those fixtures could be making an impact on your water bill. There may also be tiny, hidden fractures in your pipes that could let a little water out constantly. The sooner you can find and fix even little plumbing leaks, the less money they’ll waste on your water bill.

Use less water to wash your dishes

Next time you wash your dishes, pay attention to your washing process. Are you leaving the faucet running as you wash each dish? Are you filling your sink full of soapy water every time? How many times do you turn on and off the faucet? Chances are, however you’re washing your dishes, there will be several opportunities to get them done using less water.

This is true even if you use a dishwasher. You should only run your dishwasher when it’s totally full. You should also refrain from hand scrubbing your dishes before throwing them in the dishwasher (sorry mom). If you need to scrub your dish, scrape it off into the garbage instead of scrubbing it in the sink. This will help you prevent kitchen sink clogs, too! Dishwashing by hand consumes a lot of water, so figuring out how to use even a little less will have a big impact on your water bill.

Shorten your shower

After toilets and washing machines, showers are the third-largest water consuming fixture in most households. The average shower uses about two gallons of water every minute. If each member of your family takes an eight minute shower, therefore, you’ll use an average of 48 gallons of water every day. Luckily, just like with hand and dishwashing, it can be surprisingly easy to find ways to cut down on your shower’s water consumption in a way that really impacts your water bill.

First: invest in a low-flow showerhead. Low-flow showerheads are specially designed to consume less water and get better pressure. Just look for a showerhead with the WaterSense label. Next, try to cut down on the time you spend letting your shower’s water heat up. The faster you get in, the faster you get out. If you really want to maximize your savings, you could turn off the water while you lather soap, shampoo, and conditioner, just like you would when washing your hands.

Implementing each of these water-saving practices during your quarantine may not guarantee you completely counteract the effect of shelter-in-place on your water bill… but they can’t hurt, either. If nothing else, these are great habits for conserving water and money for good. The earlier you start, the more you save–so start now!

If you need help with fixing leaks, replacing worn out fixtures, or making any other water-saving changes around your home, never hesitate to call the pros at Ben Franklin Plumbing. We’ll get the job done fast, right, and… from a safe distance! Stay healthy!