Indoor Water Use at Home

In water use, water use around the house

 
  • Washing dishes by hand requires about 20 gallons per load, whereas standard dishwashers use six to eight gallons and water-efficient machines use only four to six gallons.
  • Household leaks account for 14 percent of direct household water use.
  • Saving water (and energy) around the house is easy with water- and energy- efficient appliances.

How do Americans Use Water Indoors?

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/Device Household per Day Percent of Total
Toilet 33 gallons 24%
Shower 28 gallons 20%
Faucet 26 gallons 19%
Washing Machine 23 gallons 17%
Leaks 17 gallons 12%
Bath 4 gallons 3%
Dishwasher 2 gallons 1%
Other 5 gallons 4%
Total 138 gallons 100%

Leaks are, perhaps, the most surprising use of water on this list – they amount to 17 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 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 of 2.5 gallons per minute, 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.


What You Can Do