How do we use water in homes?
A 2016 study by the Water Research Foundation analyzed water consumption in homes. The top 5 uses were:
- The toilet (24%)
- The shower (20%)
- Faucets (19%)
- Clothes washer (16%)
- Leaks (12%)
How can I save water?
Stop water waste from leaks
No one benefits from leaks, and they often waste more than you think. For many homeowners, fixing leaks is a DIY project. Renters can report leaks to their landlord.
- Fix running toilets: A running (leaking) toilet can use 200 gallons a day or more. That’s as much as taking an extra 15 showers a day.
- Don’t ignore that drip: Dripping faucets and tubs can also add up. Just one drop every 2 seconds wastes more than 1,000 gallons per year.
Upgrade your showerhead
Showering uses less than bathing, but it is still the second highest use of water indoors.
- Check the gallon per minute (gpm) rating on your showerhead: Changing out a standard showerhead for one for one that is WaterSense certified (2.0 gpm or less) can save 150 gallons a month if you take a daily 10-minute shower. Showerheads are easy to change out and many landlords are okay with tenants installing their own.
Be aware of running water
This tip is simple, but effective: don’t leave the water running if you’re not using it.
- Turn the water off while brushing your teeth. Standard faucets use 2.2 gallons per minute. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for a minimum of 2 minutes, so you can save over 4 gallons of water each time you brush.
- Check that an aerator is installed. Aerators are mesh screens that screw on at the end of your faucet to mix air into the water and limit the flow of water while maintaining pressure. When installed, your faucet uses significantly less water. If the water coming out of your faucet looks white or sprays like a shower, you likely already have an aerator installed. If the water coming out of your faucet is a smooth, clear stream, you may not. Learn how to install an aerator.
Run full loads
If you have a clothes washer or dishwasher, get the most out of them and only run them when you have a full load. You’ll save on water and energy!
Don’t pre-wash dishes
Scrape food residue off dishes instead of rinsing them in water. Most dishwashers clean just as well without pre-washing dishes.
If you have a dishwasher, use it! Dishwashers uses less water than washing by hand. However, if you wash dishes by hand, fill up the sink with soapy water after you have several dirty dishes, and only run water to rinse.
Pay attention to your bill
If you get a separate bill from your utility for your water use, it’s a good idea to regularly review your water bill. Knowing the patterns of your normal water use will help you identify leaks as soon as possible and understand how your household uses water. If you notice high water consumption without an explanation, consider using your meter to check for leaks.
Replace old water-using fixtures and appliances
Between technology advances and updated plumbing codes, new equipment can be significantly more efficient. If you have older fixtures or appliances, consider replacing them with the most efficient available.
Toilets: Toilets are the biggest water user in homes. However, they have improved a lot in the last 20 years, so switching an old toilet out for the most efficient available can save a lot of water. For a family of 4, switching out a toilet that uses 3.5 gallons per flush with one that uses 1.1 gallons can save nearly 50 gallons per day.
- Clothes washers: Look for Energy Star certified washers and a low Integrated Water Factor, which will be listed as “IWF” on the specification sheet (specification sheets can usually be found under product information if purchasing online or ask a salesperson if in a store). These washers use 33% less water than conventional washers. Learn more about Energy Star clothes washers.
- Dishwashers: Look for Energy Star certified dishwashers and a low gallons per cycle, which will be listed as “gpc” on the specification sheet. Newer, Energy Star certified models have advanced technology like soil sensing, water filtration, and efficient jets that reduce energy and water consumption and improve performance. Learn more about Energy Star dishwashers.
Insulate hot water pipes
Consider insulating any exposed hot water pipes. You’ll waste less waiting for water at your sink, tub, or shower to get hot.
Interested in how else you can save? Try this water use calculator created by the Alliance for Water Efficiency to learn where you might be using the most water in your home.