think there’s probably not much disagreement that water is a scarce commodity here in California. How much water the state gets depends on Mother Nature and the winter rains and snow. While there’s not much you can do about whether it’s a wet or dry winter, here’s an easy way to conserve water and save money too.

A few months ago, I got an eye-popping water bill that was way above my normal use for the time of year. I called my local water company — Coastside County Water District — to ask if this was a mistake. The crew there quickly reviewed my account and told me my sprinklers were running in the evening for several days. I did notice that and turned off my sprinklers, but the damage was already done. 

They couldn’t do anything about my bill as I did use the water, but they suggested I check my home for leaks. They gave me some tablets to put in my toilet tank to see if they were leaking and suggested I also check faucets, showers, water heater and sprinklers. 

Sure enough, one of my toilets was leaking as was my sprinkler.

They also gave me access to an online app that allows me to monitor my daily and hourly consumption. I’m a little nerdy so I was excited to see this cool app which produces a series of different charts covering different time periods. This can actually show you hourly usage and shows small amounts like flushing a toilet. If your college student comes home and takes a nice 30-minute shower, you will have the evidence in hand. In some ways, it’s a little intrusive; someone or maybe everyone knows your personal habits, like how many times you flush a toilet or how long your showers are. 

It comes with a six- to eight-hour delay. So, if you have a problem, you can correct it quickly and save water. You can also tell your college student to take faster showers. By knowing your consumption pattern, you can make small changes in your lifestyle to save water.

You can call CCWD or go online and get this app for free.

The other water company that serves our area is Montara Water and Sanitary District. While it doesn’t have an online app yet to monitor usage, technicians there can tell you with specificity how much water you use and whether there’s a problem. 

They also can email your usage going back a few months. It takes them around a week to get it. 

And for the low-tech people out there, there’s a simple thing you can do. First, make sure no one is using water in your home, then look at your water meter. If it’s not moving, you don’t have any leaks. If you do, then comes the fun detective work of searching for the leak that hopefully isn’t under your house. That could get expensive as you’ll probably need a plumber. To find out your daily consumption, read your meter at the same time for a few days and you’ll know what you’re using.

For people on water wells, it’s also important to monitor your usage as you too could have a leak going on for a very long time undetected as you don’t get a bill. But a leak under your home will cause structural damage. One of my clients had a leak in their water heater that went undetected for years and rotted the floors under the home. That was a costly repair. Your well most likely has a meter so you can see how much you use.

By getting a better handle on your daily consumption, you can make small changes that will save you money as we are approaching the time of year when people use more water. 

Of course, if everybody makes a conscious effort to reduce consumption, we will save water for the drier years. Then we’ll see water companies complaining that our efforts to use less is depriving them of revenue forcing them to raise their rates to compensate for the reduced sales. Guess sometimes you just can’t win! 

Steven Hyman is the broker and owner of Century 21 Sunset Properties. He can be reached at 726-6346 or at www.century21sunset.com  

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