Consumer Reports: How you can save money on your water bill

2nd biggest house expense is heating water for laundry, dishes, baths

Here’s a quick quiz: What’s the biggest energy expense in your house?

If you guessed heating and cooling, you’re right.

Here’s good news about the second biggest expense -- heating water for laundry, washing dishes and bathing. It can be brought way down with these simple tips from Consumer Reports.

First, try a shorter shower. And quit letting the water run when shaving or brushing your teeth.

After scraping, there’s no need to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. You’re essentially cleaning them twice, and you could cause the dishwasher’s sensors to adjust to a lighter wash and not get them clean.

For best results and energy savings, always run your dishwasher fully loaded. And consider replacing your old dishwasher. New, energy-efficient models us as little as 4 gallons per load.

Ninety percent of your clothes washer’s energy goes to heating the water. Using warm water instead of hot for your laundry can cut a load’s energy use in half. And using cool water will save even more.

Consumer Reports’ tests show that your clothes will still get clean. Because energy-efficient washers operate at cooler temperatures, detergents have been reformulated to do a fine job in cool water.

And a word about leaks from faucets, shower heads or toilets. One drip per second wastes -- ready for this? -- almost 1,700 gallons of water a year. That’s a lot of short showers. 

Speaking of leaks, here’s one last tip from Consumer Reports: To find out whether your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If there’s color in the bowl after 10 minutes, you’ve got a leak. Time to fix it or replace the toilet.