11 ways you're wasting water that are costing you

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dripping faucet water droplet drought liquidWikimedia CommonsA leaking faucet can waste up to 3,000 gallons per year.

  • There are small everyday things you're doing that are wasting water.
  • From postponing fixing a leaky faucet to planting the wrong kinds of shrubs for your climate, it's all too easy to waste water.
  • These water-wasting habits can be incredibly costly.

Keeping an eye on your water usage is a good way to save money and help the planet at the same time. Plenty of us have bad habits that could be costing us hundreds of dollars in water bills over the long run.

Here are a few ways that you could be wasting water without realizing it, and what you can do about it.

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You wait for the tap water to get cold during the summer.

You wait for the tap water to get cold during the summer.

When you want a cool glass of water, do you run the faucet for a few moments until the stream is cold? Unless you live somewhere where the tap water is always icy, this little habit wastes a surprising amount of water.

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a new kitchen faucet flows at a rate of half a gallon per minute, on average. Faucets installed during the 1990s, however, may flow at closer to 2.2 gallons per minute. That means you could be pouring up to a gallon of water down the drain for every 30 seconds you leave the tap running.

A better way to satisfy your cold water cravings is to fill up a large container of drinking water from the tap and keep it in the fridge.

You have an old toilet.

You have an old toilet.

According to Energy Star, a government-backed energy-efficiency program, the one appliance that uses the most water in a home is the toilet. Older toilets installed before 1992 can use between 3 and 7 gallons of water per flush. In comparison, federal plumbing standards now specify that new toilets can only use up to 1.5 gallons per flush.

You plant the wrong kind of flowers or shrubs for your climate.

You plant the wrong kind of flowers or shrubs for your climate.

If you live in a dry and arid region, planting greenery that requires large quantities of water can be a major waste of money and natural resources.

According to the gardening website GrowVeg, using grey water — i.e. water that has already been used in your washing machine, showers, and sinks — is one way to cut down your water waste.

You hose down your driveway or patio instead of sweeping it.

You hose down your driveway or patio instead of sweeping it.

You probably don't think twice about giving your dusty driveway or porch a quick rinse with a hose, but it's actually a wasteful way to keep your property tidy.

Considering that a garden hose can emit between 6 and 24 gallons of water per minute, you're much better off sweeping your outdoor living areas with a broom.

You water your plants in the afternoon.

You water your plants in the afternoon.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, the best time to water most outdoor plants is in the early morning or evening. This is because watering in the afternoon can lead to water loss through evaporation, since it's generally the warmest part of the day. That's not good for your plants or your budget.

You haven't installed a shower aerator.

You haven't installed a shower aerator.

If you've been looking for an excuse to indulge in a new shower head, here's one — when you install a high-efficiency faucet aerator or showerhead, you can save almost 3,500 gallons of water per year. That adds up to major savings and is better for the environment.

Read more: The best shower heads you can buy

You put off repairing leaky faucets.

You put off repairing leaky faucets.

Fixing a leaky faucet is no one's idea of an exciting afternoon, but letting leaky fixtures drip can cost you serious cash and waste water. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a leaking faucet can waste up to 3,000 gallons per year.

In fact, 10% of US homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day, the EPA estimates. To put that in perspective, that's like taking an extra five showers per day.

You run your dishwasher when it's not full.

You run your dishwasher when it's not full.

Everyone has lazy days when washing a single cup seems like a Herculean task. But running your dishwasher when it's not full is a poor use of electricity and water, according to Energy Star.

Wait to run your dishwasher until you have enough dirty dishes to pack it full, or simply get into the habit of washing some items by hand.

You throw just a few items of clothing in the washing machine.

You throw just a few items of clothing in the washing machine.

Even highly efficient modern washing machines typically use 8 to 12 gallons of water per cycle, according to laundry machine maker Samsung. Although it's not good practice to stuff your washing machine to the max, running this water-hungry appliance with just a few items of clothing inside is a serious waste of resources and money.

You leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth.

You leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth.

This is a classic water-wasting mistake. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth has the potential to waste gallons of water.

According to the US Green Building Council, the maximum flow rate for a private lavatory faucet is 1.5 gallons per minute. So if you're brushing your teeth for two minutes, you might waste 3 gallons of water.

You own a pool but don't cover it.

You own a pool but don't cover it.

If you have your own pool, use a pool cover when you're not swimming. According to the Department of Energy, using a cover can significantly reduce evaporation from both indoor and outdoor pools.

It only takes 1 Btu (British thermal unit) to raise 1 pound of water 1 degree, but each pound of 80-degree-Fahrenheit water that evaporates takes a whopping 1,048 Btu of heat out of the pool. Long story short, don't let your heated pool water evaporate.

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