Make Every Drop Count: 3 Tips for Minimizing Your Water Bill and Maximizing Efficiency

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho (August 21, 2017) –With rising temperatures, some Mountain Home residents may have noticed rising water bills, but City Hall wants to share some tips to help citizens maximize their efficiency and minimize their bill.

 

 

Earlier this year, the City Council voted to change to a graduated scale for water calculations. The changes, which became effective March 1, 2017, increased the base rate for water services from $17.25 to $19.25 per month.  In addition, the rate per 1,000 gallons for usage between 5,100 – 45,000 gallons increased from $1.05/gallon to $1.08/gallon. Usage over 45,000 gallons increased to $1.33/gallon.

 

Here’s an example of a person who used 60,000 gallons during one month in 2016 and during one month since the changes:

               2016 Rates                                                            2017 Rates

               Base Rate $17.25                                                  Base Rate $19.25

               More than 5,000 gal $56.65                                   5,100-45,000 gal $43.09

               Total $73.90                                                          More than 45,000 gal $19.82

                                                                                                Total $82.16

 

“In Mountain Home, we’re dependent on wells for all of our water,” said Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes. “There are maintenance and building costs associated with that as we try to build our reserve to help attract new business and ensure we have enough of a surplus to last if there is ever a disaster.”

 

Sykes said that while City Hall has not officially mandated water conservation measures to residents, conservation is important and everyone should do their part to minimize water use. One of the ways you can do that is by making small changes and improvements that can add up to hundreds of gallons of water conservation over time.

 

Check Your Toilet

In many cases, toilet flushes account for the bulk of water use. Though toilet water use can vary significantly, older toilets can use up to 7 gallons of water with every flush. Federal plumbing standards now specify new toilets can use only up to 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF), and high efficiency toilets only use 1.28 GPF.  Oftentimes, manufacturers stamp their toilet’s water usage in the inside of the tank or on the neck of the toilet bowl. If you can’t find the stamp, determining the age of your toilet may be the key. If it was installed prior to 1992, it likely uses between 3.5 and 7 GPF.

Also be sure to check for leaks. According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, many toilets have a constant leak that can account for as much as 22 gallons per day. This translates to about 8,000 gallons of wasted water every year. You’ll make similar savings by expanding your search for leaks to every faucet throughout your home. Every 15,000 drips from any faucet is another gallon wasted.

 

Spend Less Green on Your Lawn

  1. Know when to water.

Water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to minimize evaporation.

 

  1. Know how often to water.

Water established landscapes twice a week.  Watering thoroughly, but less frequently will help roots grow deeper, resulting in more water-efficient, drought-tolerant plants. Of course, newer plantings, vegetables and potted plants may need more frequent watering.

 

  1. Know how much water you’re giving your lawn or garden.

Sprinkler volume can vary quite a bit depending on the make and the setting. To determine your sprinkler’s average output, place two consortium water gauges within the range of your sprinkler and let it run for 15 minutes. Measure the amount of water in each gauge and divide by two to find your average output.  You may have heard the phrase, “water lawns 1 inch per week.” While this is a good rule of thumb, our summers tend to be long, hot and dry, so it’s likely your landscape will require a bit more during the summer and a bit less in the spring and fall. 

 

  1. Zero in on the target.

Make sure you’re only watering your lawn and garden. Too often, we send our water and our hard-earned cash literally down the gutter by “watering” our sidewalks and driveways. Small adjustments can make a big difference on how much area you cover and how useful your efforts are.

 

Upgrade.

In your home the appliances that use the most water are the toilet, washing machine, dishwasher and shower/bath. Water-efficient appliances and fixtures like showerheads can all pay for themselves over time in lower water bills.  The U.S. Department of Energy offers useful recommendations on how to save water, energy, and money here: https://energy.gov/public-services/homes/saving-electricity/appliances-electronics

 

If you have specific questions about your bill contact Judy Lehto, City of Mountain Home Deputy City Treasurer, at (208) 587-2104.

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