A few simple steps can help you save money on water bills and other household costs in 2017.
Admit it – reducing your water bill wasn’t high on your priority list until Budget 2017 announced a 30% increase in water prices over 2 years, beginning 1 July 2017. The water fees and taxes could mean an increase of less than S$18 for three-fourths of households. With U Save rebates, however, 75% of HDB households will be paying less than S$12.
While higher water prices won’t send most families into financial ruin, it won’t hurt to reduce unnecessary water consumption at home. With that in mind, here are 12 useful ways Singaporeans can save water and shave off a few dollars from utility bills.
1. Check Your Water Meter for Leaks
A leaky faucet that spills a drop of water per second can waste over 3,000 gallons of water a year – the equivalent of 180 showers. Besides leaking faucets, household leaks can come in the form of dripping shower heads or old toilet flappers.
The quick and easy way to spot a hidden leak is to read your water meter. Do this when nobody else is at home and all the water fittings are switched off. If the meter dial is still moving, give your plumber a call to help you find and fix the leak.
2. Check the Water Efficiency Label Before Buying New Appliances
At home, the fixtures and appliances that consume the most washer include the washing machine, toilet, and showerhead. By getting water-efficient appliances, you save as much as 6 litres of water every time you do the laundry, or 3.5 litres every time you flush the toilet.
When the time comes to buy a new washing machine or plumbing fixtures, look at the Water Efficiency Label under the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS). This grading system uses 0/1/2/3/4 ticks to indicate the water efficiency of that product. The more ticks there are, the more water-efficient the product is.
You’ll find the WELS rating for taps and washing machines prominently displayed beginning 1 April 2017.
3. Install Faucet Aerators in the Bathroom and Kitchen
An aerator is one of the most effective and inexpensive tools for saving water at home. It’s a small device attached to the tip of the faucet that controls the amount of water that comes out. Besides reducing water waste, the aerator also acts as a filter for small debris.
You can get one for as little as S$5 at your neighbourhood hardware store.
4. Install Water-Efficient Showerheads
Like aerators, water-efficient showerheads restrict the amount of water that flows through without sacrificing performance. They cost S$20 or less, and many of them are designed to produce water flows that give a satisfying shower while consuming less water.
Besides looking at the WELS rating, check the showerhead’s flow rating, which is measured in gallons per minute (gpm). Conventional showerheads have a flow rate of 5 gpm, whereas a water-efficient showerhead should have a flow rate of 2.0 gpm or less.
5. Take Shorter Showers
Of course, a low-flow showerhead won’t make difference to your utilities bill if you continue to take 20-minute showers. Water conservation groups recommend a shower time of about 5 minutes.
If you’re used to taking longer showers, use a timer to keep you on track. Each time you get clean, reduce your shower time by a minute until you average 5 minutes per shower.
6. Request a Water Saving Kit From the National Water Agency
Don’t want to spend on aerators and showerheads? You can get a free water saving kit from the National Water Agency. The kit contains 6 thimbles that you can attach to your faucets and showerheads. Each thimble has 3 or 4 holes each, which greatly reduces the flow rate of water.
7. Check Toilets for Leaks
Did you know that a leaky toilet wastes up to 500 gallons of water every day? Check your toilet for leaks by placing a dye tablet inside the toilet tank. If you see the dye seeping into the bowl, call a plumber – you have a leak that needs to be fixed.
8. Put Plastic Bottles in the Toilet Tank
Unless you absolutely need a new one, replacing your toilet with an energy-efficient one isn’t a financially smart move. Instead, you can place a water bottle inside the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water needed to fill it.
Get two plastic water bottles and fill them with water and some sand or pebbles. Screw the lid on tightly and place them in the tank, away from the toilet’s operating mechanisms. Doing this can save you ten or more gallons of water each day.
9. Wash a Full Load of Laundry
Save your dirty clothes until you have enough to load your washing machine to the recommended capacity. Avoid washing smaller loads unless your clothes machine has water level settings that you can control.
10. Use Basins For Washing Dishes
As much as possible, don’t leave the water running to rinse dirty dishes. If your kitchen sink has two basins, fill one with soapy water and the other with rinse water. You can also gather the dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a basin of hot water.
11. Don’t Use Running Water to Prepare Your Food
Instead of using running water to clean vegetables, wash them in a pan or stoppered sink. Similarly, when defrosting frozen food, use the microwave or keep them in the refrigerator overnight.
12. Use a Credit Card That Gives Rebates on Utilities
Some credit cards give cashback when you charge your recurring utilities payments to it. The POSB Everyday Card, for instance, gives a 1% rebate on SP services. While it may not be a life-changing sum, a little goes a long way into reducing your water bill, especially when prices start to increase in July.
You can compare the best credit cards in Singapore at SingSaver.com.sg.
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By Lauren Dado
Lauren has been a content strategist and digital marketer since 2007. As SingSaver.com.sg’s Content Manager, Lauren edits and publishes personal finance stories to help Singaporeans save money. Her work has appeared in publications like Her World, Asia One, and Women’s Weekly.