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Consumer Tips from the
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
Water is one of the few commodities people cannot live without, and it is also a commodity many of us may take for granted. Consumers can easily reduce water usage without sacrifice by following a few simple steps. These are some of the tips that can add up to significant savings on your bill, while helping to protect a critical resource.
Leaky faucets, pipes or toilets can waste significant amounts of water and money. Three simple tests should be done regularly:
1. Check all faucets to make sure they do not leak or drip.
Leaky faucets can be fixed inexpensively. Hardware stores, plumbing supply stores and home maintenance books can help.
2. Checking toilets for leaks is very easy.
Toilet leaks can waste hundreds of gallons per day if left un-repaired. However, fixing them is usually simple and inexpensive.
3. Test your meter regularly to ensure that you have no “invisible” water leaks (such as a leak in the buried supply line running to your home or business).
Check toilets for leaks on a regular basis.
A toilet manufactured before 1994 may use thousands of gallons more per year than newer models. Consider either installing a new toilet or placing a “toilet dam” in the tank. If placed properly, a toilet dam can save hundreds of gallons each year.
When purchasing a new toilet, look for the EPA WaterSense label. WaterSense labeled toilets use at least 20 percent less water than standard toilets on the current market, while meeting specific performance criteria.
Do not put trash in the toilet. This not only wastes water, but may also cause problems in sewage systems and septic tanks.
A water-efficient showerhead will pay for itself in a few months.
Taking showers instead of baths will save significant amounts of water. Consider taking shorter showers.
Install flow restrictors in faucets.
Do not leave the faucet running when brushing teeth or shaving.
When washing dishes:
Garbage disposals require large amounts of water. Consider composting food or putting it in the garbage, instead.
If you run the faucet while waiting for water to get hot, consider collecting it in glasses or a pitcher instead of pouring it down the drain. The collected water can be used for other things, such as watering plants, drinking, etc.
If you want cold drinking water, keep a pitcher in the refrigerator.
Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food in the refrigerator or in your microwave.
Insulate your water heater and maintain it regularly, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Insulate your hot water pipes. If the water stays warm while in the pipes, you will not have to run as much water to get it to the desired temperature.
Wash only full loads of clothing and set your washing machine to the proper water level. Remember that many newer washing machines offer water-efficient features.
Energy-efficient appliances are likely to be water-efficient, too. When shopping for appliances, look for the Energy Star label.
Look for water-efficient models when buying a filtering or water softening system.
Locate the master shut-off valve in your home or business. Be prepared to use it in case of a burst pipe or other emergency.
Water the lawn efficiently, and learn more about home lawn irrigation from Purdue University.
Raise your lawn mower blade to the highest setting, especially during dry weather. Closely cutting the grass makes roots work harder, requiring more water.
When washing the car, use soap and water from a bucket. Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle for the final rinse.
Use a broom to clean off your driveway. If you must use a hose, use one with a high-pressure, on/off nozzle.
Properly-done landscaping can save water.
Some water utilities may offer a “line protection program” for a monthly fee that acts as “insurance” for underground supply lines. A supply line brings the water from the utility’s main to an individual home or business and is typically the customer’s responsibility. Utilities are generally responsible for lines between main and the meter. If such a program is available and you consider enrolling, make a careful and informed decision, read all of the fine print, and consider the likelihood of leaks in or damage to your supply lines. If you live in a rental property, consult with your landlord and review your lease before enrolling. Landlords are typically responsible for utility lines on their properties.
The OUCC offers more information on line protection programs at www.in.gov/oucc/2656.htm.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency that represents utility consumer interests before regulatory and legal bodies. To learn more, visit www.IN.gov/OUCC.
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Voice/TDD: (317) 232-2494
Fax: (317) 232-5923
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