How to Save Money by Cutting Your Water Usage This Summer

Follow these tips to cut down on water usage in ways that don't impact your lifestyle—but do help your wallet.

Whether you live in a drought-prone area such as California or a water-rich area such as Tennessee, water authorities all over the country are encouraging us to conserve water this summer. According to, even typically rainy regions such as the Pacific Northwest have started to experience abnormally dry conditions. Luckily, there are many ways to cut down on water usage that don't significantly impact your lifestyle—but do help your wallet.

Here are some simple water-smart practices you can implement today, and you will instantly see the difference in your monthly bill. Additionally, in many areas, incentives and rebates are available to upgrade to water-efficient devices. Saving water means saving money and the planet, so why wait?

mother with baby getting a glass of water from sink
Compassionate Eye Foundation/David Oxberry/Getty Images

1. Practice good habits.

According to Joni German, water resources specialist with the San Diego County Water Authority, the best way to minimize water usage is to become aware of our habits. How are we using water in our household? Over the past 30 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put in place regulations that have done an excellent job of saving water indoors, including low-flush toilets and faucet aerators.

"The market is pretty saturated on indoor water saving in terms of devices, but there are still a lot of things you can do indoors to be aware of how you use your water," says German. Awareness comes in the form of not running water to thaw frozen food, only running the dishwasher when it's full, taking shorter showers, and turning off the water when brushing your teeth. These are some of the many simple habits you can adopt that make a big difference in water consumption.

While it might not seem like these actions will have an impact, the effects add up. For example, according to Live WaterSmart, a fact sheet from the San Diego County Water Authority, the simple act of washing only full loads of clothes can save anywhere from 15-50 gallons of water per load. This practice is easy to do and doesn't cost a thing.

2. Keep up with maintenance.

German also recommends learning how to read your water meter so that you can catch leaks early on. "If you see your water usage going up," she explains, "it could be the indication of leaks; it could be a leaky toilet, it could be a leaky faucet, you could have a leak in a pipe and not be aware of it until you get that next water bill."

Water authorities all over the country offer water-smart checkups where they will teach you how to read your water meter and help you check for leaks. Of course, for any leaks, make sure to take care of them and stem the flow as quickly as possible. Those drops don't look like much, but depending on the severity of the leak, you could be losing 15-20 gallons per day down the drain.

3. Landscape wisely.

While there are many ways we can influence water usage indoors, landscaping is the new frontier for saving water. According to German, "in California, more than 50% of the average household water use is outside, and most of that is going on green grass, the single thirstiest plant in your landscape."

Some might think of cactus and rocks when we hear the words "water-smart landscape." However, German points out that "other types of landscapes will thrive here in our region on very little water. There are beautiful lush, colorful plants of different shapes and sizes and even walkable ground cover."

If you live in Southern California, check out the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program, which offers free workshops to teach homeowners the basics of landscape makeovers. In addition, many counties provide incentives to help encourage homeowners to remove their turf. For example, SoCal residents can receive up to $3 per square foot of turf; if you replace 1,500 square feet, that can earn you upwards of $4,500, which can go a long way towards your new landscape project.

4. Research rebates.

You might also be eligible for rebates for water-smart appliances, such as high-efficiency clothes washers, high-efficiency toilets, rain barrels, and soil moisture sensors. There are many ways to save. German recommends that you check the list of eligible appliances in your area to make sure the model you are buying is available for a rebate.

In Southern California, the SoCalWaterSmart website includes a tool called estimate your rebate. It will estimate the savings you can earn on turf replacement or new devices based on your address. You can also check for rebates with your county; San Diego County strives to minimize stormwater runoff and offers incentives for rain gutters and other catchment systems.

Bring It Home

While saving money is great and all, your motivation to conserve water shouldn't be purely financial. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, water covers about 71% of the earth's surface, but only about 3% of that is fresh water—and even less (only about 0.5%) is available for drinking. So while we might see water everywhere, fresh water is a limited and highly precious resource.

Conservation helps the environment and your pocketbook. This summer, practice your water smarts by adjusting habits in the home and making better choices for your landscape.

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