Q. It's so nice to have an actual plumbing newspaper column, so I can cut out some of your articles and hang them up for reference. Hopefully, I'll see my question on the wall. My family and I recently moved into a small, older home connected to our local water and sewer utilities. Well, I was very surprised to see our first water and sewer bills, and now realize we have to start conserving water to lower these costly utility bills. Can you please give us a checklist of water-saving suggestions that we can follow?
A. In many areas, the sewer bill for a home may be estimated by the amount of water that passes through the water meter. So, high water bills may also create a high sewer bills. If this is the case, by conserving water you may be able to bring down the costs of both your water and sewer expenses. With that in mind, here are five of my favorite tips to conserve water:
1. If your home has older toilets that use more than 1.6 gallons per flush, or if you have weak-flushing toilets, upgrade to new "HET" (high efficiency toilets) that use only 1.28 gpf. Quality HET's have been redesigned to deliver high-performance flushing.
2. Fix dripping faucets and water lines as soon as you can. Little drips here and there can really add up and turn into big water wasters.
3. If you're still using an older showerhead, upgrade to a new high-performance showerhead that uses 1.75 gallons per minute.
4. Don't run the dishwasher until it's completely full, and when doing laundry use the correct water settings for lighter loads.
5. Change the aerators on your present faucets to low-flow aerators. That's an easy and inexpensive water-saving project.
Bottom line: In many cases, some little changes to your lifestyle can make big changes to your water and sewer bills.
• Master plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and hosts TV and Internet shows. Visit eddelgrande.com or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scripps Howard News Service