Is your water bill a lot higher than it should be? There are two main reasons why this might be the case. Either, you aren’t living a particularly efficient lifestyle or there’s a problem with your plumbing system.
An issue could include a leak. A pinhole-sized leak in a pipe is enough to seriously change how much water you use on a weekly or daily basis.
As such, it’s important to address an issue like this and ensure that you know what’s causing that big bill.
You need to look at two pieces of evidence here.
There are your meter and your water bill. Before you explore your water meter which is going to be quite a technical issue, take a look at your water bill.
Here, you’ll find plenty of information on your usage and while bills do differ depending on your region there are typically shared factors.
You need to think about what your water is being measured in.
This is either going to be a hundred cubic feet units (ccf) or gallons. To make sense of your water bill, you need to convert a ccf into gallons.
One ccf is the equivalent of 748 gallons of water.
So, this is just a case of completing the math. There are two main types of readings.
These can be actual and estimate. As the name suggests, an actual reading will provide true information on how much water has been used. An estimate will have been estimated by your water company.
This will occur when a meter can’t be read for whatever reason. Usually, on the bill, the reading will be marked as A for actual and E for an estimate. Be aware that a high water bill can be due to an actual reading being far greater than the original estimate.
That’s why if your reading is estimated, you should contact your water provider to find out why your meter couldn’t be read. This shows you how many days of service are included in your water bill.
Be aware that the number of days can fluctuate for a couple reasons. You might find that reading is delayed due to a holiday. Alternatively, it’s possible that the number of days in a month causes a slight yet significant spike. These are changes that you don’t have to worry about but that could provide a cause for your increased bill. Alternatively, it’s possible that you can identify certain jumps up compared to other periods of service.
An issue here could be due to a change in your home or your lifestyle. You might have filled up the swimming pool, had more guests staying in your home or you could have needed to water a dry garden. It is worth exploring occurrences like this and their presence on your bill to find out whether there is a reasonable explanation.
Certain bills will provide a graph to make spikes in water usage easy to check for. Typically, a utility provider will not just charge for the amount of water that you use.
They will also charge a base rate. A base rate is a cost that you will need to pay even if you use no water. So, you could switch off the water and leave the home for a month. You’ll still have a water bill for that period due to the base rate.
This can be included with a certain level of usage or it can be completely separate from your usage. You might have a base bill with some usage and then an additional level on top that’s separate.
If you do notice a spike, make sure you take a look at your other bills.
It’s possible that the base rate has increased and you have no control over this.
Be aware that as well as a base rate for water usage, there will also be a base rate for sewer usage.
Since water usage does impact your sewer usage, the costs will typically be included together. As such, it’s possible that the sewer base rate has changed and this is the cause of the uptick. You can find out by contacting your provider.
They’ll be able to fill you in here and ensure that you are aware of any changes. There’s a simple rule here. A small meter will typically result in lower rates to pay for your water, but it will also mean that the water pressure in the building can decrease. You also can’t change your meter on a whim. Instead, you will typically need to get approval from your water provider Typically, your home should have the ⅝-inch meter and this does provide the lowest rate.
So, if you’re already using this meter, there’s not much more than you can do. Be aware that in some locations, you’ll find that there are completely different rates for residential and commercial properties. It is possible that your home has accidentally been labeled as a business address. That will often mean that you’re paying a higher rate than you should be.
This can easily be checked on your bill or by contacting your water provider. Typically, your water meter will be close to the curb at the front of the property. If you live in an old home or a cold climate, it might be inside and this could be down in the basement. If a water meter is outside, you’ll typically find it is housed in a concrete box that says water. It could also be in a meter pit and have a cast iron lid.
You’ll need to remove the lid with a large screwdriver. You should make sure that there is no insect or animal around that could harm you.
Inside the home, a meter could be in a utility closet or cupboard and will have a plastic covering. It may be inside a wooden box. It is possible for a meter like this to be filled with standing water. Pump it out to get a clear reading and then shut off the water to the building. Usually, the shut-off valve will be located in the basement. If your home has a slab foundation, you might find it in the utility room, or on the side of your home. After the water has been shut off, run a tap to ensure the valve has worked. It’s possible leftover water will run out but this will only go on for a couple minutes.
Next, you need to check if the meter is continuing to move. If the meter moves, then this shows that there is likely a leak on the service line. This runs from the shut-off valve to the street. If the water meter does not move, this means that the leak is after the shut-off valve within the building.