In 2012, I consumed an average of about 47 gallons of water per day at an average monthly cost of $20.97. While I am sure my average would compare dismally to a worldwide average, it likely compares quite well on a national basis. According to a 2002 EPA study (available here), the average American spends about $40 per month and consumes about 98 gallons per day. I imagine this number has increased due to inflation over the past ten years. Based on the this inflation calculator, $1 in 2002 is now $1.29 on an inflation adjusted basis. Thus, supposing overall water efficiency has not increased in the intervening years, the average American now spends $52 per month on water. Let’s assume some efficiency improvements and guesstimate the average water bill in the US is now $48 per month. If that is correct, my 2012 water bill was 57% below the national average — a savings of $324 last year alone.
More importantly, think of the water I was able to conserve by simply taking advantage of technological improvements. It’s easy to take for granted something as seemingly simple as clean water — most Americans have ever only to turn on the faucet and clean, hot or cold water flows in abundance. According to UNICEF, even though we’ve seen drastic improvements in worldwide access to clean water since 1990, unfortunately 780 million people still do not have access to an even an improved drinking water source.
My annual water savings is due not to a drastic change in behavior, but to a change in mindset. When I decided I wanted to be serious about conserving natural resources, I knew technology had to be part of the solution. I installed high efficiency aerators (.5 gpm)* on all faucets except for the kitchen sink as well as high efficiency shower heads (1.5 gpm) and toilets (0.8 gal/flush). I used Niagara Conservation for all of my residential water efficient products, though I am sure there are other great options as well.
In the bills I uploaded below you will see that I broke-out my monthly water bill from other City of Raleigh monthly fees, such as solid waste removal, recycling and stormwater fees. These fees were about $15/month in 2012. You will also note, if you view the monthly analysis overview document, that the gallons I consumed each much fluctuated quite a bit, from a high of 74.8 gallons in February to a low of 0 gallons in June. I think the City must have had a problem with their meter or reporting process, because my month-to-month habits do not change much and I hardly ever water the landscaping or wash my car. Though, on average, I think the City billed me correctly, as my first few bills in 2013 report average monthly consumption of about 48 gallons. Maybe the City fixed its meter or reporting problem.
*gpm = gallons per minute