Savenia Labs announced today that it has conducted an exhaustive analysis of the municipal water costs of hundreds of cities across the United States*, and has compiled this information into a unique database called WaterSavvy-DBTM. See full press release here.
WaterSavvy-DBTM is the most up-to-date database of municipal residential water costs in the US and affords valuable insights into one of our country’s most important natural resources.
The database will power the next generation of Savenia HYDROTM water, energy and environmental impact ratings for dishwashers and washing machines to help buyers save money and local water supplies.
Here is a sample of our findings.
Pricing System Permutations
There is no standard way localities charge for water costs – from our search we found more than a dozen ways to calculate a water bill, ranging from one fixed price per month, to rates that rise depending on usage and change by the season. There are pricing tiers, seasonal rates, fixed costs, administrative fees, sewer rates, block rates, average and marginal per gallon costs. WaterSavvy-DBTM captures every feature of pricing for all its cities.
Not Just Water Anymore
Over 60% of the average water bill is for sewer and administrative fees. While there is a wide variation on how water bills are calculated, on average a family of four in the United States pays most for sewer ($32/mo.) followed by water ($30) and administrative fees ($19) on their monthly water bills.
Dramatic Price Differences
Savenia found big differences in water prices across the country. The most expensive water was in Atlanta, GA where an average family spends $2,600 per year – almost 10 times more than residents in Wilmington, DE. Interestingly, 4% of cities surveyed don’t pay for water based on their usage but instead pay flat fees regardless of usage. The average US household pays $80 per month. Pricing logic is not always clear. We found cheap water in the Southwest where water is thought to be scarce, and expensive water in areas where rivers seem to be full. In many cases sewer costs seem to be driving the differences.
Bringing It All Together For Shoppers
Using this data, Savenia found that shoppers in different cities would choose completely different appliances to save money depending on local water and electricity prices. Take the example of two families living in different states looking to buy a washing machine. One family, in Hilo, Hawaii, pays some of the country’s highest electricity rates but comparatively low water prices. The other family is in Seattle, WA, with high water prices, but comparatively low electricity rates. They’ve narrowed down their options to these two similarly sized Energy Star washing machines from well-known brands:
- The Whirlpool WTW4880AW, 3.4 cu. ft., retailing for $600 (144 kWh/yr, 7743 gallons/yr)
- The GE GWFH1200DWW, 3.56 cu. ft., retailing for $800 (181 kWh/yr, 5582 gallons/yr)
In Hilo, the family would save about $300 over their washing machine’s lifetime by purchasing the Whirlpool, while the Seattle family would save about $300 by purchasing the GE model. Drastically different decisions based on local utility pricing. If electricity or water prices go up over time they would save even more.
With the power of WaterSavvy-DBTM, Savenia Labs continues to illuminate hidden appliance costs and environmental impacts.
Savenia Energy Ratings are available in participating DC / Baltimore Metro Area Retailers (list here) – and for Savenia Enterprise customers.
*For this survey, Savenia Labs assumed water use for a family of 4 using a consistent 8400 gallons a month regardless of season. No hookup or starting fees were assessed and there were no irrigation or grey water recycling systems in the house. The water is city billed and maintained (where available) and the family is billed monthly. The family lives in a standalone house with a 5/8ths or, if unavailable, 3/4ths connection with 8 rooms and is within the city limits.