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Lower Your Water Bills All Winter Long With These Easy and Effective Tips

Between showers, sinks, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines, you use a good amount of water each day -- and it comes at a cost.

A running faucet
Here's how to save money on your water bill.
Eduardo Ramos Castaneda/Getty Images

Utility costs tend to spike in the winter as you crank up that heat to stay nice and cosy. But heating your whole house or apartment can put a serious dent in your wallet, especially considering experts are predicting heating costs will rise 12% nationally this upcoming winter. That means it's important to save on bills where you can -- namely, saving on your water bill. 

Between showers, sinks, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines and yard work, the average American household uses more than 300 gallons of water every day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Altogether, this equates to an average of $1,000 per year (or just over $83 per month) on water costs. Your typical bill might be lower or higher than this, depending on your location, water usage habits, water-saving tech and other factors.

Whether you're concerned about the rising utility costs or you're looking for ways to be more frugal, adjusting your water usage is a smart way to cut down on monthly expenses this winter. You can always set your thermostat to the right temperature, turn off the lights and unplug appliances, but cutting down on your water usage will provide another layer of energy savings. In this article, we'll explain how to change your habits to conserve water and save money.

Search for water leaks around the house

If you've noticed any spikes on your water bill (but haven't changed your habits), a leak may be to blame. Before changing your water consumption habits or investing in new appliances, spend some time checking for leaks around the house. Look for puddles around your toilets, under sinks and the dishwasher, and around your washing machine. 

If you spot any leakage or water spots, make sure to address the problem right away (whether that means fixing it yourself or calling a plumber). You can also install smart leak sensors to help detect future water leaks.

Make your faucets more efficient

If you have older faucets, adding an aerator will make them more efficient, saving you water and money. Aerators are small, circular objects that screw on to your faucet head and infuse air into the water stream. As a result, the water is compacted and creates a more consistent stream -- all while reducing water usage by 30%.

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Alternatively, if you're willing to take on a slightly bigger project, you can replace your old faucet with a new, WaterSense-certified faucet. These products are authorized by the EPA and guaranteed to use at least 20% less water than older models.

Use less water every time you flush

In a typical home, toilets account for almost 30% of indoor water consumption. There are several ways to reduce the amount of water that your toilet uses, including switching to a low-flow toilet. According to the EPA, these water-efficient toilets can help your family save up to $140 per year.

Looking for a cheaper or DIY option? Add a weighted plastic bottle to your toilet tank. The idea is that the bottle will take up space in the tank that's usually filled with water, so less water is wasted with each flush. To do this, fill a half-gallon bottle with sand and place it inside the tank, making sure it sinks to the bottom. Replace the lid of the tank and flush as normal.

Run your dishwasher (but wait until it's full)

You may be surprised to learn that running your dishwasher is actually more water-efficient than hand-washing the dishes -- as long as you're running a full load. On top of that, if you have an Energy Star dishwasher, it can save up to 5,000 gallons of water each year when compared to washing dishes by hand. 

If you have a newer dishwasher, you can also skip prerinsing your dishes to save an extra 6,000 gallons of water per year. As long as you throw out the large pieces of food, most modern dishwashers can handle the rest.

loading a dishwasher

Running your dishwasher is actually more energy-efficient than hand-washing dishes.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Switch up your shower habits

The typical American spends eight minutes in the shower, which equates to 20 gallons of water per shower. If everyone in your household makes an attempt to take fewer or shorter showers, you could feasibly save hundreds of gallons of water each month.

You can save even more water on your showers by installing a water-efficient shower head. In fact, the EPA estimates that the average family can save $70 in annual water and energy costs by switching to a WaterSense-approved shower head.

Read more: Skip Taking a Bath and Save Big Money

Yes, little changes can make a big difference

As you've probably noticed by now, the best ways to save on your water bill involve using less water and switching to more efficient appliances. From installing a faucet aerator to shortening your showers, each of these small changes will help you become smarter about your water usage -- which benefits your wallet and the planet.

More money-saving tips