Water usage is a major concern for homeowners and tenants as the costs make up a significant chunk of a household’s monthly financial obligations. Finding out that your water bill suddenly went up is upsetting not only because of the monetary implications but also because of the knowledge that you are contributing to water wastage.

When your monthly water bill is higher than usual, it is important to find out what caused and do something to prevent it from happening again.

Here are the common causes of high water bill and what you can do to address them:

  1. Water leaks that you don’t see

    Hidden leaks is the major reason for a sudden rise in water bills. The longer the leaks remain unaddressed, the more it drives up your water bill. But the worst part is water leaks promote mould growth, rot and other possible damage to your home. These problems pose health risks to your family members and can decrease your home’s resale value.

    Tip: Look at the areas in your home that you don’t often check. These include under your sink, in the vicinity of the outdoor plumbing fixtures, the basement and more. Make a habit to check these areas regularly so that leaks will not go unnoticed for a long time.

  2. Ignoring a drip

    A drip may be a very small amount of water, but they add up. Imagine this: a drip in the outside faucet that is left unfixed for a month can add to thousands of wasted gallons of water. Simply put, that amount of water is expensive.

    Up to 20,000 litres of water is wasted every year because of a leaking tap, so take care of the leak as soon as you find out.

    Tip: Your faucet or shower head may be leaking because it isn’t properly closed or a washer is broken. If you are turning the taps fully off but it is still leaking, call a plumber to fix the problem.

  3. Underground leaks

    These are much trickier to discover on your own. The first time you will notice something is amiss is most likely from a spike in your water bill.

    This is why it is important to monitor your water usage monthly. If your routine remains the same (i.e. you’re not showering or flushing more times than usual, doing the dishes more frequently, etc.), the culprit could be a break or crack in one of the underground pipes going to your home.

    Tip: This is a more complicated issue that has no easy fix. But be thankful that you noticed it sooner than later.

  4. Bad Water Wasting Behaviours

    A high water bill can sometimes be caused by excessive water consumption in tandem with the use of home appliances. These bad habits include:

    • Keeping the faucet open while brushing your teeth or shaving.
    • Showering for long periods of time and/or taking unnecessary showers.
    • Keeping the water running to thaw frozen meats.
    • Running the water while washing the dishes.
    • Overwatering the lawn and limitless use of water-operational recreational toys and equipment.
    • Not waiting for full laundry loads when using the washing machine. Doing half- or quarter-loads is a waste of water.
    • Using top-loading washing machines, which consume more water compared to front-loading machines.

    Tip: You can cut your lower your water bill significantly by moderating these bad water-wasting habits.

  5. Situational factors

    Your water utility bill can be hugely impacted by a change in your water-using habits. The major reasons for the change in water use include a change in season or adding a new member in your household.

    Tip: There is really no way to prevent a water-use spike arising from these situations, except to plan ahead. You should set aside a higher budget for water usage for certain seasons or for the duration of the stay of the additional person in your household.

  6. Installation of new water-consuming equipment

    New equipment such as pools, sprinkler systems and washing machines can contribute to an unexpected increase in your water bill.

    Tip: You can lessen the impact of new impact to your water bill, by choosing appliances that are rated as high-efficiency.

    You can do other things like, covering your new pool when it is not being used to reduce water loss from evaporation. You save water by not needing to re-fill with as much water.

  7. Continued use of outdated toilets and fixtures

  8. Old plumbing fixtures waste so much water. Depending on the toilet you have, it can consume from 6 to 32 litres of water per flush. It makes up for more than 25% of your indoor water usage per month.

    Yes, your toilet uses a lot of water. Think how much water is wasted due to leaky toilets? Depending on how severe a leak is, as much as 330 litres of water is wasted in your toilet daily.

    Thankfully, many efficiency improvements have been done to modern water fixtures, including low-flow water-saving toilets, water-saving water heads and advanced technology aerators for faucets.

    Tip: This issue doesn’t suddenly happen; it creeps up on homeowners and manifests itself through the sudden rise in water bills. If you are buying a new home, ask the seller or their representative whether the homes comes with old or modern plumbing fixtures.

    A new toilet with a dual flush model is now available. These toilet models consume only 4.5 litres for a full flush and 3 litres for a half flush. With this toilet an average home can save as much as 35,000 litres annually.

    Shift to water-efficient shower heads consume roughly 9 litres of water per minute, while outdated styles consumes about 20 litres per minute.

    Check your home’s toilets, faucets and other plumbing fixtures for their date of manufacture and whether they carry Australia’s Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) mark for water saving and other green products. The more stars a product has the more water efficient it is.

The problem with a high water bill because of leaks can always be fixed. All you need is awareness and a little effort.