How To Lower Your Water (and Sewer) Bills

Your landscape is your single biggest water user. So turning your irrigation system off now, when the lawn is dormant and your sewer charge is being set for next year, is a surefire way to save water and money.

This time of year is your best opportunity to save water and money. Do you know why? Your landscape is the single biggest water user and in winter it goes dormant, which means it doesn’t need any additional water that what Mother Nature provides.

Plus, thanks to record rainfall in September, you can actually turn off your irrigation system for the rest of 2018! Considering many in-ground irrigation systems use upwards of 8,000 gallons a month, not using it during these cooler months can really add up to water and cash savings, especially throughout 2019.

Here’s how. SAWS sewer charges are based on your average winter water use, so the less water used from mid-November to mid-March, the better for your pocketbook. Not running your irrigation system between those months will help lower your monthly sewer service charge in 2019.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Your system has a rain sensor so you’re okay, right? Not necessarily. Chances are, if your rain sensor has not been serviced in the last two years, it’s in need of maintenance or replacement. Although functioning rain sensors are required on all systems, they do not always turn the system off as needed. The best rain sensor is you going to the irrigation system controller and simply turning it OFF. This is the only way to know for certain that the system will NOT run, especially during a rain event.

Although some irrigators will assert that it’s not a good idea to leave your system stationary for that many months, you can help keep the irrigation system components primed and moving by manually flushing the system.

This is easily accomplished by turning your system to “auto” or “run” and starting the system manually. Wait for the heads to pop up in the first zone, then manually skip to the next zone. Repeat this process for every zone until each has run briefly. Doing this maybe once a month during the winter will suffice. And remember: turn the controller back to the “off” position after you flush the system.

Now, if your system is off for an entire month (and you don’t have any leaks), you should expect to be billed for just indoor water use, which is usually about 1,500 gallons per person, per month.

Imagine all the money you can save on your water bill to use for more fun things like holiday gifts, vacations and so on!

Picture of Sarah Galvan
Sarah Galvan
Sarah Galvan has been passionate about gardening since she was a child. She’s an arborist, herbalist, Texas master naturalist, a former SAWS conservation consultant and holds native landscape certification. Galvan worked as a native landscape designer where she focused on supporting native bird and pollinator populations. When she’s not answering gardening questions or working on her biology degree, Galvan enjoys hiking, kayaking, bird and butterfly watching, and competing in plant identification competitions.
Dig Deeper

Find expert advice on garden basics, landscape design, watering and year-round maintenance.