Reaching financial independence takes a lot of work, so why make it harder on you than it needs to be? By reducing your expenses, like your water bill, you can reduce the amount you need to save to reach financial independence by 25 times your annual savings if you use the 4% rule. Of course, you’ll have to continue saving money on your water bill from now until forever to make the FI number reduction a reality.
Some of the changes are super easy while others will require constant work on your part. It’s up to you to decide which savings are worth it and which aren’t. That said, I’ve asked the ChooseFI Facebook community for their best water saving tips and included them below along with a few tips I came up with myself. If you want to check out the ChooseFI Facebook thread to read all the responses yourself, you can do so here.
Save Water in the Shower
According to the EPA, showers account for 20% of daily water use. It’s easy to cut back in a few different ways depending on how far you’re willing to go.
The easiest way to save water is purchasing a low flow shower head. If you’re using an older full flow shower head, switching to a low flow shower head shouldn’t be too noticeable and is an easy, sustainable change. Of course, if you want to save even more water you can take Navy showers. Essentially, a Navy shower is when you turn the water on to get wet, turn the water off to wash yourself and then turn the water back on to rinse. This could save quite a bit of water and greatly reduce the time the water is on in your shower.
If you’re super frugal and want to eliminate as much water use at home as possible, it may make sense to shower at your gym or workplace. Showering at home is cheaper than buying a gym membership just to use their showers. However, showering at the gym is essentially free if you already have and use a gym membership on a daily basis. Be careful that you don’t jeopardize how other people view you at work if you decide to shower there, though. Even though it doesn’t make sense to be discriminated against by showering at work, some people may view the habit as strange and cheap.
Save Water at the Faucet
Faucets account for 19% of daily water use. Other than the obvious idea of turning water off when you aren’t using it, such as when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving, there’s one other major way to save on faucet water usage. If your faucets don’t already have aerators on them, make sure you add an aerator to save on water usage. It reduces water flow but still gives you the same effectiveness. WaterSense faucets already have this feature.
Save Water with Major Appliances and Toilets
Clothes washers use 17% of daily household water use but this amount can easily be reduced with a couple easy tips. First, make sure your washer is a high efficiency or front load washer. These types of washers use much less water than the old fashioned clothes washers that fill up the whole wash tub. Next, make sure you only do laundry when you have a full load. This way, you won’t have to do as many loads of laundry which should make your clothes washer last longer and use less water at the same time.
Another appliance that has the opportunity to save a significant amount of water usage is the dishwasher. Believe it or not, dishwashers use less water than most people use to wash the same amount of dishes by a staggering amount. In fact, most dishwashers use only four to six gallons of water per cycle. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you only run your dishwasher when it’s full to avoid wasting water.
Finally, toilets are a huge water hog. Surprisingly, toilets use 24% of a typical household’s daily water use. If you have an old toilet, it’s time to replace it with a newer low water usage toilet. Newer dual-flush toilets will offer the best savings by allowing two flushing modes. A low flush mode only uses about a gallon of water while a full flush uses 1.6 gallons of water in most cases. Of course, if you want to take things to the extreme like some ChooseFI Facebook group members, you can follow the old saying “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down”
Save Water with Preventative Maintenance
Believe it or not, 12% of the average household’s daily water use is from leaks. While it’s easy to put off preventative maintenance on your faucets and toilets to stop leaks, it’s a costly mistake. Check your faucets, toilets and other water consuming items in your house a least a couple times a year to make sure they aren’t leaking. If they are, fix them immediately.
Save on Water Costs by Living Somewhere with Plentiful Water
Finally, if you’re most worried about the expense part of your water bill, there are a couple options you may want to consider. First, installing a well could eliminate your water bill if your locality will allow it. That said, it comes with a hefty upfront cost. If a well isn’t an option, you could consider moving to an area where water is plentiful. Areas with abundant supplies of water probably charge less per gallon than areas in the middle of the dessert.
Saving money on your water bill is just another way to optimize your spending to achieve FI faster. It’s up to you to decide how extreme you want to go when it comes to saving water. However, conserving water is good for the environment, too, so don’t just look at the expense aspect of the equation.
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