13 September 2007

Checking the water meter

I received an email from a reader the other day asking about water saving strategies so I thought now is a good time to be checking our water meters.
In Australia, water charges are bases on kilolitre lots; a kilolitre is 1000 litres.
Click here to find out how to read a water meter in Australia.
In the US, Water meters in the U.S. typically measure volume in gallons or cubic feet. One cubic foot = 7.48 gallons and 100 cubic feet = 748 gallons. Water charges are typically based on 100 cubic feet or on 1000 gallon units.
There are 1000 litres (or 220 gallons) in a cubic metre.

As Australia is such a dry continent, we've been developing our water saving strategies for some time. You can check out this site for some good water saving tips that could be used in every country.

I think we waste a lot of water when we do things like clean our teeth, wash hands and vegetables under running water and rinsing plates and cups before putting them in the dishwasher. Waiting for shower water to heat up is also a big waste. Put a bucket in the shower to catch the cold water and use it the next day to either flush your toilet, or to water your garden. Please add your own water saving tips to the comments box.

  1. Choose a time when you are not using any appliances that use water. (overnight)
  2. Make sure all taps are turned off.
  3. Allow all tanks and cisterns to completely fill (this can take up to 30 minutes).
  4. Take an initial meter reading (read both the black and the red digits).
  5. Leave all appliances turned off for at least an hour after the reading has been taken.
  6. Take a second meter reading (read both the black and the red digits).
  7. If the second reading is greater than the initial reading this indicates that water has passed through the meter and you may have a leak.

If your water meters indicates you have a leak, start looking for it but also contact your water authority as soon as you can. Many water leaks are underground and your water authority will have the ability to find these.


I have been keeping an eye on our water usage for the past year. We use around 6.5 kilolitres a month which is about 116 litres each per day. We don't have water restrictions here but they do in our surrounding shires and the recommendation there is a daily use of 130 litres per person. That is 34.3 gallons per day, per person.

So now you'll need to read your meter and see just how much you are using. Take notes of your readings and let us know what you discover. It will take a few days to get a realistic reading as it will go up and down, but keep with it and see what you use over a week. To get a daily usage per person, divide your weekly total by 7 to get your daily reading, then divide that by the number of people in your family to find out what each person is using. Good luck!
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