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How to save on your water bill

It is pretty common for water bills to go up a little during the summer months because we are watering our lawns more often; but there are some simple things you can do inside your home to use less water and, in turn, spend less money.

The first thing you can do is put down that dish rag. Did you know washing dishes by hand uses way more water than just running the dishwasher?

And talk about waste, you could be wasting water every time you flush. The EPA says toilets account for about 30 percent of the water Americans use in their homes.

"When your gaskets are bad inside your toilet, most of the time, it'll just run," said James York, owner of Southern Plumbing. "You'll be using water and you won't even know it."   

York showed consumer expert Amy Davis how to do a dye test. Just add a few drops of food coloring to your toilet's tank and wait at least 15 minutes.  If you've got a leak, you'll see that food coloring in the toilet bowl after a few minutes.

Even if there are no leaks, replacing your commode with a low-flow potty will save a lot of water. Toilets made before 1994 use 3 gallons of water per flush. Current models use nearly half that.   

Showering also uses less water than baths; but you should also make sure your shower heads are low flow, pushing through no more than about 2 and a half gallons of water per minute. Older shower heads can use 5 to 8 gallons a minute.

If you get a water bill that seems high, York says you should know how to read your water meter. He pointed to the numbers on a water meter and explained that they should coincide with the reading on your bill.  If the numbers do match, but your bill seems to have spiked for no reason, turn off all of the water in your home and go back out to your meter.
           
"If there's water on, this little dial will rotate," York explained, pointing to a tiny red dial on the meter.

That spinning dial when no water is running indicates you've got a leak and you may need to call a plumber.

Many people have received inexplicable, unusually high water bills. If you live in the city of Houston, you can apply for an adjustment or a one time credit. You can do that by filling an unusually large bill adjustment form and sending it to the City of Houston Water Department.