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7 ways to save money on your household water bill

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Here’s a quick quiz: What’s the biggest energy expense in your house? If you guessed heating and cooling, you’re right. Here’s good news about the second biggest expense — heating water for laundry, washing dishes, and bathing can be brought down with these simple tips from Consumer Reports.

First, try a shorter shower. And quit letting the water run when shaving or brushing your teeth.

After scraping, there’s no need to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher if your dishwasher is a newer, energy efficient model. When you rinse, you’re essentially cleaning dishes twice, and you could cause the dishwasher’s sensors to adjust to a lighter wash and not get them clean. For best results and energy savings, always run your dishwasher fully loaded. And consider replacing your old dishwasher. New, energy-efficient models us as little as 4 gallons of water per load.

Ninety percent of the energy from your your clothes washer goes to heating the water. Using warm water instead of hot for your laundry can cut a load’s energy use in half. And using cold water will save even more. Consumer Reports’ tests show your clothes will still get clean. Because energy-efficient washers operate at cooler temperatures, detergents have been reformulated to do a fine job in cool water.

And a word about leaks in faucets, shower heads and toilet — one drip per second wastes almost 1,700 gallons of water a year. That’s a lot of short showers.

Speaking of leaks, here’s one last tip: To find out whether your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If there’s color in the bowl after 10 minutes, you’ve got a leak and it's time to fix it or replace the toilet.

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