Let’s talk about your water bill…

Over the last few years we have really examined all our expenses as much as we could. One that I havn’t spent too much time on and most people don’t is our water bill. We’ve taken a number of steps over the years to reduce our water bill.  For 2 reasons.  1. Water costs money. and 2. Overusing water is not very environmentally friendly.  I think as a population we probably use way too much water and take it for granted. Especially since a large part of the world doesn’t have access to clean water.

So let’s look at our most recent water bill.

  • 2 month period ending September 18th.
  • Total = $56.68
  • We live in Ottawa, Canada
  • We used 12M3 (cubic metres). 1M3 equals to 1000 litres or 264 gallons.

For the sake of this analysis, I’ll mostly refer to litres. So we used 12,000 litres in this 2 month period (6,000/month). When you put it in that context, it seems like a lot.  We essentially used 12,000 500ml water bottles per month.  Or 500 cases per month!!!

Is this a normal amount?

We are a family of 4 and 12,000 litres was actually one of our lowest water bills. We normally average between 12,000-14,000 litres every 2 months.  So yes, it’s a normal period for us.  But it’s actually much lower than the average in our society. According to the government of Canada the average person (all ages) uses about 250-275 litres per day (or 7,500-8,250 litres per month). So a family of 4 realistically is averaging 32,000 litres per month.  Or over 2,500 cases of water bottles per month!

Just imagine what 2,500 cases of water bottles would look like in your house right now… Where would you store that.  It’s crazy! Let me help you… I found this photo from a news article from 2015 where a group collected 450 cases of water for a neighbouring community that suffered a natural disaster. These were stored in a nearly full 26 foot moving truck.

water bill

Now these seem like mostly 35-40 bottle cases so more like the equivalent of 700-800 (24 bottle) cases to be safe. But you need to imagine 2,500 cases so imagine 4 or 5 of theses trucks. Let me help again…

water bill

So that is the average monthly water consumption for a family of 4 in Canada. The equivalent of 5 moving trucks of water bottles (or 32,000L)…

So with our 6,000 litres a month total we are way below average! I still find this is a staggering amount and we can still find ways to reduce water…

So how does this affect your water bill?

In Ottawa we pay a flat Fire Supply charge of $0.1219 per day ($7.44 for the latest 61 day period).  Our usage cost is $1.891 per cubic metre plus 117% for a sewer surcharge.  So essentially we pay $2.21 per cubic metre of water (or 1000 litres).

Now to more research. Based on most news and research articles, a 5 minute shower typically requires 100 litres. A bath would normally run slightly more than that.

So if 1000 litres cost $2.21, 100 litres costs $0.22.  There is the cost of your morning shower.  $0.44 if you take 10 minutes.  And this doesn’t include the cost to heat the water which could probably double this figure depending on the region (I will have a more in depth article on this later).

Many older toilets use between 15-20L per flush, while newer low flow ones use between 5-8 and some as little as 3. Ours is a 4.8L toilet so one flush costs $0.01. When it comes to toilets you really can’t reduce your usage but you should just make sure you are using a low flow option.  Because if you are using an older toilet, you could be paying $0.02-0.03 extra per flush. If every person in a household of 4 flushes 5 times per day at $0.03, the annual savings could be $219.

*4 People X 5 Flushes/day X 365 days X 0.03 (additional cost between low flow and older toilet)

Watering your lawn and filling a pool can also contribute a huge amount to your water bill.  Some pools are as much as 30,000 to 50,000 litres (up to $100 to fill up).  A typical garden hose can use up to 600 litres per hour or 10L /minute.  So watering your lawn for 20 minutes a day can cost you nearly $0.50 each day.

Rates vary across the country and across the world.  In Toronto, the basic rate is $3.62/cubic metre.  If you want to read further on water usage / prices in Canada compared to the world, this is is a great article: http://cwf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CWF_WaterBackgrounder8_SEP2011.pdf

It really shows how we use an abnormally high amount of water in Canada compared to the world (except the US, they use a lot too). We also do have a massive supply of it.

***Please share your thoughts or comments on your water bill and family water usage**



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5 thoughts on “Let’s talk about your water bill…”

  1. I’ll have to take a closer look at my bill next time. Please share strategies you use to limit you water usage. I can’t imagine getting mine that low.

    1. Thanks for the comment FrugalMom. We stopped using our dishwasher which made a big difference. One thing that also really helped is working from home. When I worked in a office I had a regular routine of showering every day. Now working from home, I am perfectly comfortable showing every second day.

  2. You may want to check your math on the amount of water a shower uses… by Canadian standards no showerhead can use more than 9.5 litres/min. So a 5 minute shower has to use less than 50 litres, not 100.

    1. Thanks for the comment. That’s good to know. I didn’t come up with that calculation. I got it from the Toronto Star article I linked to in the article. But that study/news story might have exaggerated the numbers.

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