Most Americans get their water from a municipal source which can be a city or village supplier. And, while you would think there would only be one charge on your water bill, there are usually two: one for your water usage and one for your sewer usage. This dual charge can confuse some people especially when the sewer portion is higher than the water portion.
In this article, we look at the two charges, what they mean, and how you can lower your sewer charge.
The water charges on your bill represents the water coming into your home. They calculate this bill on how much water you’re using in a given month. Most American homes have a water meter, which registers the amount of water coming in. The average household water usage is about 88 gallons per day per person living in the house. So, a family of four averages about 10,500 gallons per month. So, when you see your water bill, they base the charge for water on the water that flows through the meter every month. If you see an abnormally high water bill, you should get in touch with a plumber to see if it is being caused by a leak!
What Is A Sewer Charge?
Different from your water charge is your sewer charge. This part of your water bill represents the amount of water you discharge into the system, or water you use that goes down the drain. While every provider calculates the sewer charge differently, most either charge a flat rate or charge based on the amount of water you use.
Why Is My Sewer Bill So High?
So, now we know the difference between the two charges on your water bill, you’re probably wondering why it is, most times, your sewer bill is higher than your water bill. After all, most people use more water than they put down the drain through drinking, cooking, and watering their lawns.
The main reason your sewer bill is higher than your water bill has less to do with the amount of water used and more to do with the different systems that bring you the water and take it out of your home.
Your drinking water comes into your home via pressurized pipes, which can move both up and down hills. However, wastewater isn’t pressurized and in most cases must flow by gravity. Engineering and constructing drainage systems is complicated and expensive, someone has to pay for it, which is ultimately the customer.
Another factor that plays into the high cost of your sewer bill is the nature of how the water is treated.
Drinking water treatment is standard throughout the country — you filter it, remove any bacteria, and send it out to the homes. Waste water, on the other hand, is more complicated. Way back in the day, wastewater screened and then dumped into creeks or streams.
Today’s technology, however, allows for advanced biological systems and filters to make the water as clean as possible and used for other purposes such as irrigation. Again, all of this technology and treatment comes at a price, which is passed on to the consumer, which is you.
Why is My Water Bill So High?
As mentioned, most times, a person’s sewer bill is higher than their water bill. But what if your water bill is high too?
Well, if your water bill is high, it means a lot of water is flowing through your meter. Now, you might say you’re not using anymore water than usual, so why is your bill going up?
There are many reasons why a water bill goes up unexpectedly. The first is a raise in your water rates by the municipality from where you get your water. If your rates are the same, but your water bill is still higher than normal, and you don’t think you’re using more, it’s time to look for other causes.
The main cause of a rise in your water bill is an undetected water leak. Water pipes could be leaking under your foundation or somewhere outside the home without your knowledge.
The best way to test for an unseen water leak is to make sure no water is running inside the house and then check the water meter and see if it registers water flowing. If your meter doesn’t have an indicator for water flow, you can perform the same test, but check the dials every hour and see if they register usage. Just be sure you’re not using any water in the home during the test. If it registers water usage, then you have a leak somewhere in your system, and calling in a plumber is the best way to find out exactly where the leak is so you can fix it.
How To Lower Sewer & Water Bills
If your municipality bases your sewer charge on a flat rate, there’s not much you can do to fix that. However, if your sewer bill is based on the amount of water you’re putting into the system, you can manage that to hopefully lower your costs.
The first step is to cut down the water you’re putting into the system, and the best place to do that is in the bathroom. You can start by installing low-flow shower heads to reduce the amount of water you use when you shower. Also, consider taking shorter showers.
Many people like to let the water run when brushing their teeth, but turning the water off during brushing is another easy way to save water going down the drain. Lastly, consider a low flow toilet to save money with each flush.
In the kitchen, fill up your sink to wash dishes instead of running the faucet and run the dishwasher when it’s full. The same goes for laundry; only do a load when the machine is full.
While your municipality sets the rates for your water and sewer service, and there’s not much you can do to alter that, you can change how much of their product you’re using every month to get a lower bill.