Save Water and Save Money

If you save water around the house, you save money too. It might not seem like much, but every little bit helps, so here are some tips for water conservation that will help keep money in your pocket instead of letting it run down the drain.

Before we get into the specific tips, let's explore how you pay for water and sewage. Understanding this will help you appreciate how wasting water costs you money and how being more conservative with water can save you money. Most of us are on municipal water supplies, so let's start there, and then we'll address well water systems.

Municipal Water

If you have a city water supply, you pay by the cubic foot or by the gallon. Cheyenne is probably similar to other cities, so let's look at their rates as an example.

Cheyenne charges by 1,000 gallon increments, with a four tier rate structure that penalizes heavy users of water. We have been on drought induced water restrictions for years, hence the four tier rate structure.

Here is a summary of the rates:

  • 0 to 999 gallons is $4.25 (minimum charge)
  • 1,000 to 6,000 gallons is $2.96 per 1,000 gallons
  • 6,001 to 24,000 gallons is $3.71 per 1,000 gallons
  • 24,001 to 42,000 gallons is $4.62 per 1,000 gallons
  • 42,001 or more is $5.79 per 1,000 gallons
Cheyenne also has a sewage charge associated with the water bill. That charge is $3.00 per 1,000 gallons of water used, so that amount is tacked onto the amount charged for water.

Sewage usage for each home is calculated based on a three month average water use in the winter. This assumes that at other times of the year any amount of water over the winter average is used outdoors and doesn't wind up in the sewer system.

There is also a minimum charge for sewage of $3.50 each month.

So, if you use 8,000 gallons of water each month, your water and sewage bill in Cheyenne will be $53.68.

Here are some examples to demonstrate the cost of water:

  • A friend of mine in rural Missouri is connected to city water and she pays more than $15 for each 1,000 gallons. She is very motivated to save water and save money. Using the above example, she would pay about $120 a month just for using municipal water.

  • An associate in California calculated that watering his lawn with an automated sprinkler system required about 800 gallons, and he did this about 3 times a week. At Cheyenne water rates, that's over $42 a month just to water the grass.

If you are on a municipal supply, you might benefit from speaking with the water department to see what their rate structure is so you can devise a way to save money through water conservation.

Well Water

If you have a well that provides you with water, you pay electricity to have the well water pumped up for your use. You also pay to install the well and maintain it over its useful life.

The more water pumped out of the well, the higher the electric bill. In the summer, I use the well for long periods to water my trees each week. The monthly electric bill is usually $30 to $45 higher each month because of all the water pumping.

Also, the more the well pump is turned on and off, the more likely you'll have a well pump control failure or a failure of the pump motor. Both of these types of failures will cost you money.

A well control service call could be $150, and a well pump replacement could be $2,000.

Tips to Help You Save Water

Okay, now that we understand how much water costs, and what drives up the cost of our water, let's look at how we might make better use of it. The links below lead to detailed discussions about each of the tips to help you save water.

Taking a shower is popular, but many people still like to take baths. Baths are nice and relaxing I suppose, but they use much more water than a shower. Unless you must take a bath to get clean, a shower is a better way to save water. One bath uses as much water as two or three long showers. Short showers save even more.

Brushing your teeth is another place where we can save water. If you're a typical American, you enjoy watching the water run down the drain in the sink while you brush your teeth. It's as entertaining as it is wasteful.

Washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen can be a big contributor to wasting water. So many people just can't clean off the table, load the dishwasher, wipe down the counter or clean dishes without having the water constantly running down the drain in the sink. Perhaps it's like background music that soothes the savage kitchen cleaner.

If you wash your car with any regularity, then it represents an opportunity to save water. I don't wash my car very often because the dirt roads out here make regular car washing pretty much a wasted effort. But others have such a need to be more presentable.

Tree watering is just like any other use of water, it can be wasteful or efficient. Use drip systems, "catch baskets" and mulch to help save water and still grow a nice bunch of trees for your enjoyment.

Cleaning the driveway can be a complete waste of water. When I was much younger, my neighbor used to chase elm seeds down his driveway with a hose. He clearly wasn't "signed up" with the save water and save money crowd. His driveway was the cleanest in the neighborhood, for an hour or so, and then the elm seeds fell on it once again.

Lawn watering uses hundreds of gallons of water. If you must water your lawn, the best advice to save water is to make certain that your sprinklers are watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or street. Also, runoff is a big issue to deal with.

Leaky faucets don't usually present a sense of urgency, but they do waste water - 24 hours a day.

Flushing the Toilet is something we do every day, and it uses gallons of water at a time. This water consumer can be tamed by a "best practice" or technology.

Gray water systems are also a way to save water. They capture water from relatively sanitary sources in your home and use it to water trees and lawn. Just about any source except the toilet is acceptable, but there are some issues with filtering out lint, hair and other solids, and of course, government regulations.

Make an effort to save water as part of your approach to frugal living. Water is essential to life, so we should use it wisely.

Done with Save Water, take me Home

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.