If you're like most homeowners, you've got better uses for our hard-earned money than to spend it on utility bills. Once relatively cheap, water has been rising rapidly in price during the past few years. The average water bill for an American household is $120 -- and it's predicted to rise nearly $50 during the next five years. Fortunately, proactive strategies are available to modern homeowners designed to keep water costs as low as possible. Following are several measures you can take to keep your monthly water bill from skyrocketing out of control:

Fix Those Leaks 

The simplest fix available to all homeowners is to keep their plumbing leak-free. Bear in mind that just because you don't hear that obnoxious drip-drip-drip sound that traditionally signals a leaky faucet doesn't mean that leaks aren't a part of your plumbing picture -- they may well be happening behind washing machines and dishwashers, or in cabinets under sinks. Always make a point of checking these areas on a regular basis to make sure that your hard-earned dollars aren't being leaked away. Other ways to monitor for leaks include:

  • Periodically check your water meter before and after a specified period of time when no water is being used in your home -- if the usage meter goes up, you've got a leak.
  • Put a drop of food coloring in your toilet tank and check the bowl in 10 minutes -- if any of the coloring has gotten into the bowl, you've got a leak. 
  • Check outdoor faucets -- many homeowners who are vigilant about checking for indoor leaks completely forget to look those them in outdoor fixtures as well. 

As many as 10 percent of all homes have plumbing leaks that waste 90 gallons of water or more per day. 

Low-Flow Faucets and Fixtures

Low-flow faucets and fixtures utilize a high water pressure technique to create a strong flow that nonetheless uses less water than their traditional counterparts. You can find low-flow items at your favorite home improvement retailer -- ask your plumber for recommendations on which ones would work the best for you. 

High-Efficiency Water Appliances 

Washing machines, dishwashers, and hot water heaters can use as much as 50 percent less water than their traditional counterparts. Ask your plumber about ENERGY STAR options -- not only will they save you water and thus keep your water bill lower, many are designed to run on much less energy, so you may also see welcome drops in your electric bill. 

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