Understanding Household Water Use

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Most of us have no idea how much water we use every day or what factors really make a difference between using a little and a lot. Understanding your use can be the first step to being as efficient as possible.

What affects how much water you use?

Number of people living in your home

This is the most significant factor- more people use more water. However water use can vary widely based on the factors below.


If you have higher water use, check for leaks first. Dripping faucets add up over time, and a running toilet can waste 200 gallons a day or more.

Landscaping and outdoor water use

Watering can contribute significantly to overall use and occurs almost entirely in the summer months in our region. You can estimate how much water goes to landscaping by looking at your past water bills and finding the difference in use between summer and winter use.

Age and efficiency of water fixtures and appliances

Over the years, updated plumbing codes have required fixtures to be more efficient. Homes with newer fixtures use less water. The table below shows water use ratings of common appliances and fixtures. Compare this to your fixtures and appliances to help decide if you want to replace them. Fixtures and appliances are often labeled with how much water they use.

Maximum water use ratings of efficient appliances

gpf = gallons per flush; gpm = gallons per minute; gpc = gallons per cycle

Toilet1.6 gpf1.28 gpf0.8 gpf
Showerhead2.5 gpm2.0 gpm1.5 gpm
Bathroom faucet2.2 gpm1.5 gpm0.8 gpm
Kitchen faucet2.2 gpmn/a1.8 gpm with optional 2.2 gpm (for filling pots)
Standard dishwasher5.0 gpcn/a3.5 gpc
Washing machine Standard varies with style and size. Look for the lowest Integrated Water Factor (IWF) when buying a new one.

Your water use habits

Everyday actions make a big difference over time. Habits like taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet, and only running full loads of clothes and dishes help to keep your water use as low as possible.

How does your household compare to others?

The standard metric for water efficiency is gallons per capita (per person) per day, or gpcd. The average water use for single family homes in our region is between 40 and 60 gpcd. However, that includes outdoor water use, which varies widely depending on the landscaping.

Indoor water use in single family homes or apartments is more consistent, averaging around 40 gpcd.

Calculate your household’s gpcd:

  1. Find the total gallons on a bill from the wintertime when you were not watering outdoors. You may need to convert CCF to gallons (1 CCF = 748 gallons). Multiply your number of CCFs by 748.
  2. Divide the total gallons by the number of people that live in your home.
  3. Divide by the number of days on the bill.

Water use isn’t one-size-fits-all

The gpcd of your home will depends on the factors listed above. However, if your use is consistently above 70 gpcd, especially if it’s in the winter, it may be time to identify areas where you can save. If your bills have recently increased, check your home for leaks or running toilets.

If your household is using below 30 gpcd, keep it up! Thank you for doing your part to ensure that future generations will have the water they need.