Why was my water bill high?

Your bill includes a graph of your water consumption for the past 12 months. One unit equals 748 gallons of water. Does your water consumption seem normal compared to the previous billing period or the same billing period last year?

Has the amount of water you've been using changed? Have you had houseguests for an extended period of time? On average, a person uses 40 to 80 gallons of water per day. See How Much Water Do I Use Daily for more details.

During the summer months, watering your lawn more is the most common reason a bill can be high. Running your sprinkler for one hour can use 400 gallons of water. If you use a hose to water, did you forget to go back out and turn it off?

There could be a leaking faucet or a running toilet in your home. Check for a possible leak by turning off everything in the house and then going out and looking at the water meter. It should not be moving at all. If it is moving, you have a leak somewhere. Did you fill a swimming pool with a garden hose? Or use a pressure washer to clean the deck and driveway? At four gallons per minute, pressure washing for four hours can use 960 gallons or over a unit of water. 

How much water do I use daily?

On average, a person uses about 40 to 80 gallons of water per day.

Use Average/per person gallons per day
Bathing 15-20
Sink  3-5
Toilet 5-15
Washing Clothes 10-20
Cooking 1-2
Miscellaneous 1-3

How much water is lost?

Small household leaks, left unrepaired, can lead to big trouble over time. 

 Leak source Typical leakage Gallons per day Gallons per month Units per month
Running toilet 1 gallon/hour 26 780 1
Leaking faucet 1 drip/second 9 259 0.3
Leaking showerhead 10 drips/minute 1.4 43 0.05
In-ground irrigation 210 6,300 8
 Garden hose left running   4320 129,600 173

 

Water is billed in units. One unit equals 748 gallons of water.

It's only a small drip...right?

Slow drips of water can add up quickly.  A toilet that “keeps running” after you flush or a sink that drips after it is turned off can waste thousands of gallons of water a year.  A small leak in your automatic irrigation system can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month!  If the drip is hot water, you are paying for wasted energy too.  Fix leaks as soon as you find them.  They won’t go away on their own.

 

Check for a running toilet

One of the most costly household wastes of water is a leaky toilet. According to the American Water Works Association, toilets account for 45 percent of all indoor water use in a typical home. It is estimated that 20 percent of all toilets leak.

Toilet leaks can range from small to large, constant to random, or from loud or silent. They all cause wasted water. Depending on the water pressure to your house, a running toilet can leak over one gallon of water per hour. This is almost one unit of water a month. If left undiscovered, a running toilet can waste almost 13 units of water a year.

Fortunately, most toilet leaks are relatively easy to fix.

In a properly functioning toilet, no water should move from the tank to the bowl unless the toilet is being flushed. A leaking toilet loses water from the tank to the bowl without being flushed.

  • Most toilet leaks are caused by a faulty valve (also known as “flush valve ball” or “tank stopper”). A flapper valve should be replaced every three to five years. Most hardware, plumbing and home improvement stores supply flappers. How to check for a leaky toilet flush valve (flapper):
    • Carefully remove and set aside the tank lid (this water is clean until it enters the bowl)
    • Add some food coloring or a dye tablet to turn the water a different color
    • Put the tank lid back on
    • Wait 15 minutes and do not flush
    • If dye appears in the toilet bowl, the flapper valve in your toilet is leaking and should be replaced
  • The second most common type of toilet leak is caused by an improperly adjusted or broken fill (ball cock) valve. If the float is set too high or if the shut-off valve fails to close completely, water will continue to enter the tank and flow into the overflow tube. This type of leak can be seen simply by taking the tank top off and observing if water is flowing into the overflow tube once the tank is full.

If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model.

 

Check for a leaking faucet

A leaking faucet is frequently the result of a bad rubber washer. The washer on a sink is typically located under the handle. A washer is relatively easy to replace with the right tools. It does require shutting off the water under the sink and removing the handle. Check local home centers or the Internet for help with how to repair faucet leaks.

  • A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute can waste more than 500 gallons of water per year
  • A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year

Leaky in-ground irrigation system and spigots

An irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing. An irrigation system with pressure set at 60 pounds per square inch that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.

To ensure that your in-ground irrigation system is not leaking water, consult with a WaterSense irrigation partner who has passed a certification program focused on water efficiency.

Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.

 

 

Return to Utility Billing for more information on water leaks and leak adjustments.