How Much Does a Sprinkler System Add to Your Water Bill?

A beautiful green lawn is the pride and joy of many homeowners. However, maintaining that lush grass does come at a cost – specifically on your monthly water bill. Sprinkler systems provide convenient, regular watering to keep lawns healthy, but they can significantly increase water usage and expenses. Just how much extra can you expect to pay by installing an in-ground sprinkler system? Read on to learn the key factors that determine the impact sprinklers have on your water bill.

Water Usage of Sprinkler Systems

The main determinant of how much your water bill will increase with a sprinkler system is the amount of water used for irrigation. Here are some figures to give you an idea of typical consumption:

  • Standard hose-end sprinkler: Approximately 1,000-1,500 gallons per hour
  • In-ground system: 600-over 2,000 gallons per hour depending on the number of zones and sprinkler heads

So while a hose-end sprinkler may use 1,500 gallons in an hour of watering, an installed system with six zones could use over 12,000 gallons per hour.

Usage also depends on the frequency and duration of watering. For example:

  • Watering a lawn with hose-end sprinkler for 1 hour, 3 days per week = Approximately 4,500 gallons per week
  • Watering a lawn with 6-zone system for 30 minutes per zone, 3 days per week = Approximately 9,000 gallons per week

As you can see, the gallons can quickly add up with regular watering over the seasons.

Estimating Increased Water Costs

To estimate how much your water bill is likely to increase with sprinkler use, you need to know:

  • Your local water rate per 1,000 gallons
  • Your approximate irrigation usage amount

Many municipalities charge tiered rates based on total household water consumption. For example:

  • $2.50 per 1,000 gallons for first 10,000 gallons
  • $3.50 per 1,000 gallons for 10,001-20,000 gallons
  • $5.00 per 1,000 gallons for 20,001+ gallons

So the more you use, the higher rate you pay per 1,000 gallons.

Here is an example estimate for a household with sprinklers:

  • Indoor water usage: Approximately 4,000 gallons per month
  • Outdoor water usage: In-ground system runs 3 days per week for total of 9,000 gallons per week (36,000 gallons per month)
  • Total usage: Around 40,000 gallons per month
  • Water rates: $2.50 per 1,000 gallons for first 10,000; $3.50 for next 10,000; $5.00 for over 20,000
  • Monthly water cost:
    • First 10,000 gallons at $2.50 rate: $25
    • Next 10,000 gallons at $3.50 rate: $35
    • Remaining 20,000 gallons at $5.00 rate: $100
    • Total sprinkler irrigation cost: $160

So based on typical indoor usage of 4,000 gallons, this household’s water bill has increased by approximately $160 per month to cover the 36,000 gallons for outdoor irrigation.

As you can see, the more you water, the higher your costs will be. Carefully consider your lawn’s needs and local climate when programming run times and frequency. Water early in the morning or at night to reduce evaporation loss. And inspect your system periodically for leaks, broken heads or other problems that waste water.

Steps to Estimate Your Costs

Follow these steps to estimate how much your specific sprinkler system could add to your water bill:

1. Determine your standard indoor monthly usage

Review several months of water bills to find your average usage without irrigation. Indoor usage is lowest during cooler months.

2. Estimate your outdoor irrigation usage

Factor in system run times, number of watering days per week, and number of months you’ll operate sprinklers.

3. Learn your local water rates

Check with your utility company. Remember rates often increase with consumption.

4. Calculate estimated water costs

Add estimated indoor and outdoor usage, then apply water rates for each pricing tier. Compare to current bill without irrigation.

5. Adjust watering schedule to control costs

You may be able to reduce watering frequency or run times and still maintain a healthy lawn.

Ways to Reduce Sprinkler Water Usage

If the cost increase from your sprinkler system is more than you expected or can afford, here are some ways to cut back on water usage:

  • Water early morning or at night to minimize evaporation.
  • Adjust run times and frequency based on seasonal weather and lawn condition.
  • Water only when grass shows signs of needing it, not on a fixed schedule.
  • Install a smart irrigation controller to automatically adjust watering based on weather.
  • Break up irrigation into shorter cycles to reduce runoff.
  • Inspect system periodically and fix leaks, broken heads, misaligned sprinklers, etc.
  • Improve soil quality and add thick mulch to retain moisture longer.
  • Accept a lawn that goes dormant in drought, but doesn’t die. Less watering needed.
  • Re-landscape with native plants suited for your climate to reduce thirsty grass areas.


Installing an underground sprinkler system undoubtedly increases water usage and your utility bills. But you can control the size of that increase by watering responsibly and monitoring for inefficiencies. Compare your estimated outdoor irrigation costs to the benefits healthy grass provides. And consider water-saving lawn alternatives if sprinkler bills become prohibitive.


Do sprinkler systems use more water?


If you run the sprinkler three times per week during a 90-day billing cycle, you will add about 36,000 gallons of water to your usage.

How much water does a sprinkler use in 30 minutes?


The average system uses approximately 15-16 gallons per minute, per station. Here is an easy formula to help you calculate the approximate amount of water you are using each month.

Does a sprinkler system save money?


Installing an automatic sprinkler system is a great way to save money on water usage. Not only does it help to conserve water, but it can also save you a considerable amount of money in the long run.

Is adding a sprinkler system worth it?


Is an Irrigation System Worth It? Although an irrigation system can have a high upfront cost, it also has the potential to save you money over time by decreasing your monthly water bill. Lawn irrigation systems ensure that your grass is adequately watered—and because it’s automated, you can set it and forget it.

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byu/seepeeyaye inlawncare

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