Tips for conserving water and reducing utility bills

Consumers can avoid costly utility bill surprises by avidly monitoring their water usage, the Houston Advocate reported Tuesday. Although large utility price disputes are rare, they can happen when either the utility company or the consumer is unaware of actual water usage. Misread meters, a plumbing leak, accidental waste and pipe damage can result in added utility costs.

The Advocate suggests that consumers keep their address and phone number current with the utility company. Often, a company will call to automatically alert consumers of an abnormal spike in water usage, which can be indicative of a leak or pipe break.

If homeowners notice a dramatic bill increase, it should be reported immediately. Some utility companies won't adjust a bill after a month has gone by, so consumers should always be aware of their bill amounts.

Consumers should also ask for a manual meter reading. If the city or utility company is using an electronic meter to read water usage, the device may give an incorrect reading. Consumers can protect themselves by being constantly aware of how much water they use.

Most importantly, homeowners should check for leaks as often as possible. A leaky pipe can waste hundreds of unnecessary gallons of water, which can lead to a high water bill.

Even if consumers stay fully aware of their pipe and meter functions, they may want to consider water use reduction within their home. Showering wastes less water than bathing, provided the user doesn't take unnecessarily long showers. Consumers can time their showers and turn shower heads off while shampooing or shaving. Small habits like keeping the faucet off while brushing teeth can save valuable money throughout the year.

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