Katharine James admits she has never checked her water meter.
Katharine James admits she has never checked her water meter. Jamie Hanson

How a song could cheapen your water bills - a lot

STOP pouring your hard-earned money down the drain.

We all know taking fewer long showers, fixing dripping taps and retiring thirsty washing machines, can cut water bills but it's the sneaky leaks you can't see that you need to plug.

But there's an easy test everyone can do at home.

This isn't another lecture on water saving. Southeast Queenslanders are pretty waterwise.

We learnt the hard way during the millennium drought.

Before the drought we were using around 300 litres a person per day. At best, during the drought, we got down to 124 litres, and now we are using an average of 168 litres per person a day.

My household does its bit to rein in the quarterly water utility quarterly bill, but to no avail - our water usage shows up as double the Brisbane average.

Wipe down washing machines regularly to prevent bacteria and mould build-up. Picture: istock.
Wipe down washing machines regularly to prevent bacteria and mould build-up. Picture: istock.

Last year our water-guzzling, top-loader washing machine finally kicked the bucket and so a front-loader was ordered. We also fixed a leaking loo cistern.

The upgrades were not negotiable and irrespective of any water miserliness - clothes still needed to be clean and dampness underfoot was less than convenient.

The surprising upside, however, was revealed in the very next water rates bill - it dropped by $75.

Flicking off lights to save power around the house is no longer enough - now it's our taps turn. Kids: you are now rationed to a one-song shower.

Queensland Urban Utilities has done the sums and worked out that by cutting shower time from seven minutes to four minutes (a song's worth) will save around $36 year - even more if you have more than one shower a day.

And we're going to give a cluster of water-saving disks from Bunnings (costing $6.50) a trial in a few taps.

You don't have to be a plumber to install them and on the shower alone it can save about $88 a year.

But you can't always see where the water wasting is happening.

Katharine James has lived in her home in Brisbane's southside for four years and never done a test on the water meter.

In the 17 years we have lived in our home, not once have we tested the water meter. And yet. it's the best way to see if there's a "concealed" leak.

Because the thing about concealed leaks is you don't know you've got one until it starts costing you hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars.

Like an Oxley couple with a baby, who in just one quarter, had their bill jump from $380 to $710; or worse still a Bundamba mum who ended up owing more than $12,000.

So today take an hour and take the test.

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