How to Determine Average Water Usage for a Home Before You Buy It

Call the Water Utilities Department

 

The easiest way to figure out the levels of water usage at a particular home you’re looking at is to call the utilities department directly. In most cases, they’ll just need the address to provide you with information regarding the average use for the previous year. If there are multiple utilities departments servicing a particular area, instead of calling each of them until you find the right one, the real estate agent should be able to provide this information.

Homes that are in the process of being built will not have this information, but it’s an effective and efficient way of determining average water usage for existing properties before extending an offer.

Use a Water Consumption Calculator

 

There are water consumption calculators available online that help determine how much water usage a specific household will average in a month. Simply fill in the information to the best of your knowledge to complete the equation. Some of the questions asked may be difficult for you to know, such as how many gallons of water flow from the faucets in your home, since you don’t live there yet, but use your best judgment. This is more of a general estimate for how many people living in an average house will use water weekly, monthly or annually than a direct estimate for a particular property, but it may be one of your only options for newly built homes..

Determine How Old the Toilets and Faucets Are

 

Are you looking at an older home or a newer one? The older the toilets and faucets, the less efficient they’ll be when it comes to water and energy use. Energy-efficient toilets are becoming more popular, and are considered standard equipment for newer homes and remodeling projects. In fact, newer toilets will use up to 75% less water than a twenty-year-old toilet. If you cannot determine the age of the facilities, then take a guess for the higher. That way, the number you come up with will be skewed in favor of the more expensive end of the spectrum and any surprises you have will be the kind that save you money.

Keep Differences In Mind

 

Not all homes come with their appliances, so keep in mind the differences in the ones you’ll be bringing into the house versus the ones that have been used by the owners. If you have a high-efficiency washing machine and the owners of the home you’re looking at do not, then you will probably use less water than they did when it comes to doing laundry.

Be sure to figure out if there are the same number of residents now as there will be if you move in. The number calculated or told to you may change drastically if there are only two people living in the house now but there will be four once you move in.

If the grass is particularly green at that location, then the owners may take great pains in watering it regularly. Your outdoor water usage might differ if you do not water the lawn daily, saving you money. Look for differences in lifestyle and behavior that could indicate a similar difference in household water usage.

Consider Living in the Country

 

One way to avoid astronomically high water rates is to consider living out in the country where well water is used, instead of going through the utilities department. You will avoid having to pay a fee for connecting to the main sewer line and you will not have a monthly water bill to pay. However, there are drawbacks to this solution that you should keep in mind. You may need to drill a new well at some point, which can be costly. Also, you will have to have your septic tank pumped regularly to avoid backups. But, the cost of pumping the tank will only come once every other year or so, and it may be decades before you may need to drill a new well, if at all.

Look for Ways to Conserve Water

 

To lower your water bill, try these methods of conserving water: replace your appliances with more efficient ones, only use your washing machine if you have a full load to clean and hold off on running the dishwasher until it’s full. Look for signs of a leaking toilet or dripping faucets, and repair them immediately. Install low-flow shower heads and water your lawn less frequently.

Water usage can always be changed in some form or other. If the home you want to buy turns out to have a high water usage rate, remember that there are things you can do to lower that water bill. Don’t let the previous owners’ habits scare you away, especially if you spot signs of wasteful behavior and inefficiency. Buy the house you want, and make minor changes here and there to keep things reasonable.

Resources:
http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/indoor.html
http://www.csgnetwork.com/waterusagecalc.html

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