When we want fresh, clean water in the United States, we are fortunate that all we have to do is turn on a faucet to get as many gallons as we want. We use this water for a variety of purposes. On average, our direct indoor water use comes to over 69 gallons of water per person per day. When you include all uses of water at home – both indoor and outdoor – an American family of four can use up to 400 gallons per day! No wonder Americans use more water per capita than most other countries in the world.
Most indoor water use goes to toilets (about 27 percent), washing machines (about 22 percent), showers and baths (about 19 percent) and sinks (about 16 percent). Surprisingly, almost 14 percent of the water we use indoors is lost to leaky toilets and faucets—that’s nearly 10 gallons of water per person per day down the drain!
Fortunately, saving water around the house is easier today than ever before. Modern toilets, showers and faucets are designed to be more efficient and can save your household many gallons per day. For example, older toilets can use up to 6 gallons per flush, whereas newer low-flow (water-saving) toilets use from 1.6 to 3.5 gallons, and high-efficiency models even less.
Likewise, regular showerheads spray nearly 4 gallons per minute, while low-flow G models put out just over 2 gallons per minute, but be careful what showerhead you purchase. Some systems, especially those with multiple nozzles, exceed the federal limit on the amount of water that can flow from a showerhead (also consider cutting your shower time down by a few minutes).
Energy- and water-saving appliances like dishwashers and laundry machines are now widely available. They not only save water but also money on your utility bills. Look for the Energy Star label when you buy appliances to save electricity, water and money all at the same time. By switching to water-saving fixtures and appliances, you can, on average, reduce your indoor water use by a third. To look for some of these water efficient products, check out EPA’s WaterSense program, which provides a product label backed by independent testing and certification.
It’s also important to know that water heating is the second biggest user of energy behind air heating and cooling in most households. So running your hot water for no reason or taking unnecessarily long hot showers is wasting both water and energy!
Although modern fixtures and appliances are a great way to save gallons, the key to home water conservation is still as simple − and free − as turning off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.
By taking simple steps to reduce your water use at home you can quickly be on your way to saving gallons − and dollars − every day! To find other ways to save water and energy visit the Water-saving Tips page.
Washing dishes by hand takes about 20 gallons on average, per load. Dishwashers can be huge water-savers. Energy Star dishwashers use from 4 to 6 gallons of water per load and that number is still dropping. Even standard machines use only 6 to 8 gallons per load. If you do wash dishes by hand, you can save large amounts of water by turning off the tap while you sponge, soap and scrub, and only turning on the tap to rinse.