How Much Water Does Your Household Use?
Water is an essential part of lives! We not only drink it, but we bathe in water, use it to launder our clothes, and wash dirty dishes. But just how much water do Americans use on a daily basis and does it matter?
Average American Household Water Use
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the typical American household uses around 300 gallons of water per day. The majority of water use (70%) is from bathing/showers, faucets, flushing toilets, and laundry washing machines.
The chart below illustrates water use estimates for common daily activities. Older homes with older appliances are not nearly as efficient as newer ones, so their water usage is likely to be much higher. New appliances and water fixtures are designed to be more water-efficient, saving those homeowners a significant amount of water.
Gallons Used by Common Activity – Average
*Most water estimates from USGS.gov
When reviewing the usage chart above, you see that flushing the toilet several times a day, combined with a shower or bath, along with the usual grooming and maintenance, it’s easy see how water use can quickly add up. Keep in mind these figures do not account for drinking water or food preparation!
The other 30% of household water use generally comes from outdoor activities like watering your lawn, gardening, and outdoor cleaning. Obviously, being that we’re in the Midwest, these percentages fluctuate greatly during warm and cold weather seasons.
How Much Water are You Using?
To figure out your own daily water usage, review your water bill (if you receive your water from a municipal water utility system). It will report the number of gallons your household consumed over the last billing cycle. Divide that number by the number of people in your home, divide that number once again by the number of days in that particular billing period.
Example may be a household of 3 people using 6,000 gallons of water in March.
- 6,000 / 3 = 2,000 gallons of water per person for the month
- 2,000 / 31 = 64.5 gallons used per person, per day
If you’re curious what is the typical water usage, you need to factor in the part of the country you live in, the climate, and the culture of water usage. For instance, in the Southwest, many homes have swimming pools, which take a significant amount of water to fill and maintain. In the Pacific Northwest the region receives a significant amount of rainfall, which means less watering lawns, etc.
The experts at Water Footprint Calculator determined the average water for an individual living in the United States is around 60 gallons per person per day. The United States Geological Survey puts the number higher, at 80-100 gallons per person, per day. The unique habits of the individuals in your home will affect your water usage. For example, a female teenager may take longer showers as the adults. A few minutes less in the shower each day adds up to a significant difference over the course of a month or a year.
How Much Water do Your Neighbors Use?
While you can’t find out how much water your next-door neighbors are using, you may be able to see residential trends for your area. Look up your local water utility online and see if they provide neighborhood comparison data. (Not all utilities have the systems to capture and share this data.)
Tips on How to Reduce Water Usage
Check for Water Leaks
Depending on how severe, leaks can waste hundreds or thousands of gallons of water per month. Toilets are one of the worst and most common culprits. Sometimes you can hear a toilet leaking, but not always. To check your toilet for leaks, open the tank lid and place a few drops of food coloring inside. Don’t flush – just wait about 30 minutes. If you see colored water in your toilet bowl, you have a leak.
Upgrade Your Shower Head
Standard showers use 2.5 gallons of water per minute. But water saving showerheads that carry the EPA’s “WaterSense” label use no more than 2.0 gallons per minute. Newer models are designed to provide a high water pressure experience using less resources, creating a more sustainable, but yet comfortable shower. Note that water-efficient showerheads also decrease demand on your hot water heater, saving money on your electric bill as well.
Of course, cutting down on your shower time can also save hundreds of gallons per year. Tips for shorter showers? Set an egg timer or create a playlist of two or three songs that’ll last less than eight minutes.
Installing a water softener can also help you shorten your shower time. That’s because when you shower in soft water, it’s easier to work your soap and shampoo into a nice lather. You spend less time trying to soap up.
Turn Off the Faucet when Brushing Your Teeth
If you leave the water running while you brush your teeth, you might be using a gallon of water or more. Save water by turning the faucet off between wetting your toothbrush and rinsing.
Only Wash Full Loads of Laundry (and Dishes)
The average top-loading washing machine can use 40 gallons of water per load, so operating it for partial loads can unnecessarily use hundreds of gallons of water. Dishwashers are similar in that you will save water by only running it when it is full.
Upgrade Your Appliances
Replacing older toilets and faucets can have a huge impact on your annual water use. Modern water faucets use around 40% less water than those manufactured before 1995. These newer faucets typically have aerators that restrict water flow while still creating the feel of high-pressure. New water-use efficient toilets are also available, including light-duty flush options for liquid waste.
Laundry washing machines that are front-loading as well as energy efficient dishwashers also use far less water than the conventional appliances. When shopping for new appliances, look for the Energy Star or WaterSense rating from the EPA. Washing machines with an Energy Star rating use 30% less water and Energy Star dishwashers save 18% per load.
Does Water Usage Really Matter?
As cities grow in population and expand geographically, water resources are becoming stressed. Conserving water is not only good for your pocketbook, but it can help lessen the negative effects of droughts and water shortages throughout our area.
Does A Water Softener Use a Lot of Water?
Water softeners clean and recharge themselves through a process called “regeneration,” which may use between 25 to 65 gallons of water, depending on the model’s size and design. This process is important because it rinses away the hard minerals the water softener collected. Once done, it resets itself and starts collecting more, leaving your water soft and fresh.
The unit’s capacity, the volume of water you use in your home, and the hardness of the original water source dictate how often it will need to regenerate. For instance, you have a total water hardness of 10 grains per gallons (GPG) and a common mid-size water softening machine with a capacity of 36,000 grains. If your household uses 300 gallons of water per day, the system will regenerate only around once every 12 days. Some systems are designed to regenerate sooner to help maintain the system. If you have questions about how often your unit regenerates, you can call our office at (402) 453-5730 and we should be able to help.
With our popular Evolve series of water softeners, we can help match your home with the ideal model equipped with our patented Water Efficient Technology® (W.E.T.). This innovative feature will not only save you by how much water it uses to regenerate, but it reduces the amount of salt you need to add to it as well. The system’s computer calculates the amount of capacity that’s used and proportionately scales back the regenerative cycles to target only and refresh the media inside that requires it.
Another example is a water softener that when fully exhausted uses around 40 gallons of water every regeneration to rinse away the minerals. That same system also uses 40 gallons of water to regenerate when only exhausted half way. A W.E.T. system scales during partial regeneration and would only use 20 gallons of water!
When compared to all the other water use appliances and faucets in our homes, water softeners use a very small amount of your total water consumption.
Speaking of conservation, a properly functioning water softener system can reduce pesky hard water buildup and scaling inside of your appliances. These hard water problems could significantly reduce your appliances efficiency and could shorten their overall life. Win win!
We’re the Water Professionals in Nebraska and Iowa If you and your family are concerned about your water quality, but are also interested in the most efficient treatment system available, be sure to let our water experts know. We will help you review your water goals and options and discuss the best system to meet all your water needs.