Looking on how to save on water? Yeah, me too. Since 2012, the City of Vancouver started charging a water bill for residents with new homes in order to meet the Greenest City 2020 goal (the goal was to reduce water consumption by 33%). The City of Vancouver does this by making a water meter and sewer meter mandatory with your new house build.
So before this, we were completely oblivious to water consumption, it was embedded into the property taxes as a flat utility rate. Instead of all you can use water within what you paid for as a flat fee, we are now pay per use of water. Unfortunately now, we are acutely aware of the water bill and are wondering why our Vancouver water bill is so high.
I don’t know what the average water bill in BC is, but ours feels high because it’s about the same cost as our natural gas Fortis heating bill. Now, our Vancouver water bill is kind of shocking. We get a Vancouver utility bill quarterly. The City of Vancouver water rates during May to September are 25% higher because water is more scarce during these times.
I already don’t turn the tap on when I am brushing my teeth or washing my face. We do about two loads a week of laundry but it was a bit more in the last few months with potty training, haha. We already do hand wash big pots and bowls. Maybe it’s because I am mostly home with the kids and there are about a gazillion dishes three to four times a day.
I found this graph on a Metro Vancouver website which illustrates nicely the average Vancouver water usage and what our water bill is divided into:
If you’re interested and curious in calculating how much water you use, and what your average water bill might be, there’s a fun water calculator from Alliance for Water Efficiency.
So how do you save on water in daily life?
With that in mind, here are some ways to save water at home. These simple ways to save water will be easy to implement into your home life:
Fix Leaky Toilets
As you can see from above, 13% of the water bill is from leaks alone!
We have a toilet that has been running for about half a year but if we press the lever a certain way after flushing. Interestingly enough it doesn’t run all the time like that though (I’d say about 25% of the time after we flush it, it runs). You can kind of hear if it is doing that and we press the lever quickly again and it stops running.
Even though we mitigate it in time, we should definitely try and fix it and add that to the DIY home repair to-do list.
Reduce Shower Time
Reducing your shower time can save a lot of money on your water bill. Showers take up 20% of your water bill. I’m a culprit as I like to contemplate life while showering (haha jk). Our kids take baths instead of showers, but we don’t fill up the tub by any means.
Shortening your shower by 2 minutes can save 460 litres of water in one month. I’ll be more cognizant about my shower time from now on.
Don’t Fill The Bath Tub Up
Although baths don’t take very much water usage for the average person, it is still a good idea to make sure you don’t fill the bath tub up to the brim when you are taking a bath. Another way to save on water when filling the bath tub, is to plug the drain while you fill the bath tub instead of waiting for the water to get warm enough. You can adjust the temperature as the bath tub fills.
Filling up a standard bath tub means using up over 300 litres alone. That’s a lot of water.
Load Up the Dishwasher
I have always wondered about washing by hand vs dishwasher and which one used less water and electricity. Doing a full load of dishes in the dishwasher conserves more water than washing by hand, according to Bob Villa. The key is also not to pre rinse your dishes before you put them in your dishwasher.
Also, HGTV.ca says you should try and run a load with the shortest duration cycle if possible- that means an eco or quick wash instead of the default setting which is probably longer.
If you are going to do the dishes by hand, plug up the sink instead and have one side with hot soapy water and the other side to rinse (if you have a dual sink).
Turn Off the Kitchen Faucet
Everyone washes their dishes differently. I’ve adopted the way my mom does it which is water wasteful.
I have a bad habit of doing the dishes by hand but letting the water run while I soap things up and rinse at the same time. It just feels cleaner to me. We run the dishwasher probably about every two days with a full load.
I need to change my habit and try to just have hot soapy water on one side and cold water on the other side of our sink, or just have hot soapy water on one side with the dirty dishes, and then rinse everything quickly once done.
Front Load Washer (and Load It Up)
According to HGTV.ca, your washer comprises of around 20% of your monthly water bill.
Bob Villa also says to skip the Permanent Press option as it uses up an extra 20L of water because it does an extra rinse. The idea is to load up the washer when you run a load, just like for the dishwasher. Also, front load washers are more efficient than top loading washers.
HGTV.ca also says to not fill your washer up completely, but just 75% of the maximum capacity otherwise it will be less efficient.
Anyway, it is interesting that humans respond to incentives (in this case, I guess it is a disincentive) to not waste water since we are charged pay-per-use now instead of a flat fee embedded in the property tax statement.
Save Money on Your Water Bill
Usually to pay your utility bill, they do not accept credit cards. However, there’s one credit card that you can use to get around that to earn some points or cash back.
To save money when paying our water bill (and at least get some cash back), we pay our water bill with our Canadian Tire Triangle World Elite Mastercard and get 1% cash back in CT Money. It’s free. Previous to this, we used Paytm to get cash back in the form of gift cards, but they started charging a service fee to use the credit card.
Here are some other ways to save money fast in Canada, to the tune of over $7200 worth in one year.
Hopefully these water conservation tips help you figure out how to save on your water bill at home and how to save water in daily life.
Do you have pay per use water where you live?
What are some ways you save on water?
How do you do your dishes?
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6 thoughts on “How to Save on Water (7 Tips to Reduce your Water Bill)”
Our oldest has been taking long showers. I need to find a way to get him to take shorter showers.
Another tip is to have a water jug in the house rather than running the tap and wait for cold water.
@Tawcan- It would be nice if you could install something like an automatic timer where it stops abruptly like it does in community centre pool showers, ha 🙂
Thanks for the tip- We use one of those Brita filters for our cold water, similar to a water jug.
We have always been pay per use. Didn’t know that a flat rate was ever an option anywhere.
Our bill shows usage and compares it to the previous year. It’s like a game to see if you can do better this month compared to the same month last year.
Another water saving tip – get a rain barrel for watering your garden. We had one at our old place and I miss it now at our new place. Next summer we will have a rain barrel again.
@Maria- I always thought it was flat rate! haha 🙂 Yes, that’s a good tip, thanks. I’ll try and figure out how to do that DIY and somehow attach it to a hose or a gutter or something for next summer.
My city had flat rate but found that a lot of people were abusing the water (“hey, if we have to pay this much for it, we might as well use it”). I had several neighbours who would hose down the driveway, every, single, day. To be fair, they charge a rate for every single sink, tub, bath, toilet in the house despite the fact that one would not be using every single one all the time. There was a reason why many houses only had one sink so that you wouldn’t get charged for the extra sink in a double sink.
So, partly to address this water abuse and also to be mindful of climate change, they’ve since switched to metered for all residences. All of a sudden, the neighbours stopped hosing down the driveway every day (one was paying $200 more!). Unfortunately, they’ve severely underestimated the infrastructure reserve so the bill is now 2/3 fixed and 1/3 metered. We get the bill every 2 months so we effectively pay $33/mth. We’ve noticed the increase to $66/mth when we were using the power washer to clean our big fence but that was temporary.
Now, we’ve moved to a new house and our water is “free” as it’s well water. However, we do test it twice a year at $61/each so it’s not entirely free. We can have the public health unit test it for free but they only test for e-coli. The paid version tests for e. coli, coliforms, overall bacterial level and manganese. As this is our first year living in the house, we’re erring on side of caution then we’ll do a hybrid of both. Paid after winter due to spring runoff and free in fall.
@KQ- Hose down the driveway every day! Oh gosh. And interesting about the flat rate per plumbing hookup. Humans just follow the incentives, it’s human nature we can’t help it. That’s so cool that you have unlimited well water now, but good idea to test it for all of the things you want to test it for. Mmmm e. coli and coliforms… 😉