Indoor Water Use at Home

Indoor Water Use at Home

When most people in the US want fresh, clean water, all they have to do is turn on a faucet. Still, no place is immune from drought, so it’s important to be conservative with your water use at home, no matter where you live.

On average in the US, water use at home (water from the tap, toilet, dishwasher, etc.) adds up to about 138 gallons per household per day, or 60 gallons per person per day.

American Water Use at Home – How Many Gallons do We Use?

Recent studies of how Americans use water throughout their homes show that, for most people, indoor water use is highest in the bathroom, followed by the laundry room. Table 1 provides a breakdown.

Table 1. A daily breakdown of water use in the US:
Appliance/DeviceHousehold per DayPercent of Total
Toilet33 gallons24%
Shower27 gallons20%
Faucet27 gallons20%
Washing Machine22 gallons16%
Leaks18 gallons13%
Bath4 gallons3%
Dishwasher2 gallons2%
Other4 gallons3%
Total138 gallons100% (101% with rounding)
SOURCE: Residential End Uses of Water, V2 (2016)

Leaks are, perhaps, the most surprising use of water on this list – they amount to 18 gallons of water per household per day lost to leaky toilets, appliances and faucets.

Saving Water with Water-Efficient Toilets, Showerheads and More

Fortunately, saving water around the house is easier now than ever before. Switching to water-saving fixtures and appliances can reduce indoor water use by twenty percent. The Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense website lists many water-saving products. The Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR label also has an extensive list of energy- and water-saving appliances, like dishwashers and washing machines.

Newer bathroom fixtures and appliances like toilets, showerheads and faucets are designed to be more water-efficient than older models and can save hundreds of gallons a month. For example, older toilets use up to six gallons per flush, whereas low-flow toilets (or any toilet manufactured after 1994) use 1.6 gallons or less. Likewise, older showerheads flow well over the federal limit of 2.5 gallons per minute, while low-flow models can flow no higher than two gallons per minute. Some shower fixtures, especially those with multiple nozzles, exceed the federal limit, so these fixtures require reduced shower time in order to save water.

Likewise, newer dishwashers and clothes washers use water much more efficiently than older models. Water efficient dishwashers save more than 5,000 gallons of water per year compared with washing dishes by hand (and use less than half as much energy, too). Newer washing machines handle much bigger loads of clothing with much less water. A full-sized ENERGY STAR-certified clothes washer uses 13 gallons of water per load, compared to the 23 gallons used by a standard machine, saving over 3,000 gallons of water per year.

With a little bit of research, water- and energy-saving products can be purchased that provide enhanced performance, help save on water bills and have the added benefit of saving water for future generations. If new appliances aren’t in the budget, significant water savings can still be achieved just by finding and fixing leaks.

Heating and Cooling Are Water (and Energy) Hogs!

Because it takes a lot of water to make electricity, water heating can be a big energy user – it’s right up there with heating and cooling and running appliances, electronics and lighting. Those long, hot showers feel good but they waste both water and energy, and although modern fixtures and appliances are a great way to save gallons, it’s still important to simply turn off the tap.

Read about how much water it takes to manufacture all of your consumer goods.