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How Much Water Does an Average Household Use?

Thursday, May 5th


Filling Teapot at Faucet

Water is the element of life! We drink it, bathe in it, and use it to clean our clothes and dishes. It’s an essential part of our day-to-day comfort and well-being. 

But just how much water do we use every day? Does it matter? And how can we use less?

Water Use: The Average American Household

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American household uses more than 300 gallons of water per day. Most of that (70%) comes from indoor use, including showers, faucets, toilets, and washing machines. 

But what do those numbers really mean on a per person, per use basis? The table below provides estimated water usage for common daily activities. If you have an older home and older appliances, your usage will likely be on the higher side. Newer fixtures and appliances are more water-efficient and can save significant amounts of water. 

Average Gallons Used by Activity
*Most water estimates from USGS.gov

Add up a shower, several flushes, and some basic grooming and maintenance, and it’s not hard to see how the gallons can add up. And that doesn’t even include cooking or drinking water

According to the EPA, another 30% of household water use comes from outdoor activities, such as watering lawns and gardens and outdoor cleaning. Of course, those percentages can fluctuate seasonally during the summer months. 

How Much Water Am I Using?

To understand your own water usage, you can look at your water bill if you live in the city. It should show you how many gallons of water you used over the last billing period. Divide the number of gallons by the number of people in your household and then divide again by the number of days in the billing period. 

For example, let’s assume you’re a household of three and you used 6,000 gallons in March. 

6,000 / 3 = 2,000 gallons per person for the month
2,000 / 31 = 64.5 gallons per person, per day

What’s typical? Estimates vary. The folks at Water Footprint Calculator say the average at-home water use is 60 gallons per person per day. But the US Geological Survey puts the average at 80-100 gallons per person. The wide range depends a lot on the habits of the individuals in your home. For example, a young teenager daughter may notoriously take longer showers as they daydream about their upcoming weekend plans while going through a multiple-step hair care routine. On the other hand, your grandfather lost his hair long ago, so he keeps his showers quick. Just a few minutes less every day can add up to a big difference over the course of a month or a year.

How Much Water Do My 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.)

What Can I Do to Reduce My Water Usage?

  1. Look for leaks

    Leaks can waste hundreds (or even thousands!) of gallons of water per month, and toilets are one of the biggest 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.
  2. Update your showerhead

    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. 
  3. Turn off the tap while you brush

    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. 
  4. Don’t throw things away in the toilet

    Tempted to throw something away in the toilet? Use the trash can instead. Older toilets use 3-5 gallons of water per flush and new models use 1-2 gallons. Over time, all those unnecessary flushes add up. 
  5. Only wash full loads

    The average top-loading washing machine uses 40 gallons of water per load. So running your washing machine for partial loads can use up hundreds of gallons of water unnecessarily. The same thing goes for your dishwasher. If you have enough dishes, you can save water by only running it when it’s full. 
  6. Update your appliances

    Replacing the old toilets and faucets in your home can have a big impact on your annual water use. Modern water faucets use 40% less water than those installed before 1995. New faucets typically have aerators that restrict flow rates, while still creating the feel of a high-pressure flow. New toilets are also available with water-saving features, including light-duty flush options for liquid waste. 

    Front load laundry machines and energy efficient dishwashers also use much less water than conventional appliances. Look for appliances with the WaterSense or Energy Star rating from the EPA. An Energy Star washing machine uses 30% less water, while Energy Star dishwashers use 18% less water per load. 

Does Water Usage Matter?

As communities grow, more and more people are using the water supply. In some areas, that population growth is stressing local water resources. Conserving water can help alleviate the effects of droughts and water shortages in some communities.

But even if you live in a water rich area of the country – where natural water sources are replenished as fast as water is consumed – you may still want to reduce your water usage. That’s because in-home water usage uses energy – energy to deliver water to your home, to heat it, and to process the wastewater through your local sewer district. 

How Much Water Does a Water Softener Use?

A water softener will clean and recharge itself through a process called regeneration. During regeneration, a typical water softener may use between 25 to 65 gallons of water, depending on its size and design. This water is necessary to rinse away the hardness minerals the water softener collected so it is able to reset itself and start collecting more.

How often your water softener regenerates will also depend on its capacity, the volume of water you use in your home, and the hardness of the water being treated. 

Let’s say you have a total water hardness of 10 grains per gallons (GPG) and a mid-size water softener with a capacity of 36,000 grains. If your household uses 300 gallons of water per day, your water softener will only regenerate about once every 12 days. Many water softeners also are set up to regenerate sooner than that to help maintain the system, whether you have fully used your capacity or not.

With our top of the line Evolve series water softeners, our dealers can set you up with a model equipped with our patented Water Efficient Technology® (W.E.T.). This unique feature will save not only how much water it uses to regenerate, but the amount of salt as well. The technology inside calculates the amount of capacity that has been used so far, and proportionately scales back it’s cycles to only target and refresh the media inside that needs it. 

Let’s say your water softener that is fully exhausted normally uses 40 gallons of water every regeneration to rinse away the minerals of an entire tank.  It also will use 40 gallons of water to regenerate a water softener that has only been exhausted half way. When a water softener with W.E.T. regenerates when it is only half exhausted, it would only use 20 gallons of water in this example.

All in all, water softeners don’t add very much to your total water consumption – comparable to only the equivalent of two loads of laundry each month– but ask your local Evolve dealer about W.E.T. and they can help you use even less!

If you’re conservation-minded, recognize that a water softener system can contribute to your goals in other ways. Water softeners can help prevent hard water buildup and scaling inside your appliances – buildup that can significantly reduce their efficiency and shorten their overall life.

Let’s Talk Water

Concerned about your water quality but looking for the most efficient treatment system available? Call your authorized Evolve dealer. They can help you review your options and discuss the best system to meet all your water goals. 

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