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How to lower the high costs of water bills and save money

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Residents of Marietta receive their electric, water, and sanitation charges on one bill from Marietta Power & Water. Their efficient billing methods helped me track down a money wasting culprit that many home owners may be unaware of until it is too late.

I opened my utilities bill a few weeks ago and had a rude awakening. My bill had jumped 35% from the month before. Instead of the summer air conditioning usage causing the increase, I was in shock to find it was water usage that had brought on the increased billing. The water usage had gone from 4,000 gallons (normal) to 11,000 gallons (excessive) in one month.

After a call to customer service I was armed with enough information to find the costly villain. Actually, there were two villains, a leaky toilet flapper which had recently been repaired and a leaky faucet on the outside of the house.

Here's what I learned and here's what you can do.

Small leaks can be very costly. A bathroom leak could be losing as much as 200 gallons a day. Usually it is the rubber flapper that has to be replaced, but leaks can happen anywhere, in the kitchen, outside where the hose is attached to the faucet. Do the math; a 200 gallon leak going unchecked for 30 days could easily mean an additional 6,000 gallons and big bucks on your next bill.

Finding a leak is easy to detect, in most cases. The first thing to do is find your water meter and read it. Yes, you have access rights and you should periodically read the meter.

  1. Carefully open the lid and look to see if you can find a little red triangle on the meter face. It may be a different color, but all meters have what is known as a low flow meter. If it's rapidly turning when you think all of the water is turned off you have a leak.
  2. Checking/finding the leak requires two people, one to keep and eye on the meter and one person to turn faucets on and off while trying to determine what is causing the leak.
  3. If you've checked all your pipes and faucets inside your home and feel confident the leak(s) must be elsewhere, check the outside of your home. You are looking for an area that has an unexplained accumulation of water in the yard.
  4. Leaks can come from a number of sources including outside watering systems, water heaters, other plumbing inside the home.

The good news is ,depending on the utility company, you may be able to get an adjustment on your bill. The policy for Marietta Power and Water customers is if you are able to prove a repair was recently made in your home that coincides with the unusual water usage, they will make an adjustment.

This is provided you have a receipt for the replacement part. The receipt must be faxed to the billing department with a cover letter for approval.

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