Water Conservation Tips

Toilets, Taps, Showers, Laundry, and Dishes

1994 was the year that federally mandated low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets started to appear on thescene in significant numbers. On average, 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks. Short of installing new water-efficient fixtures, one of the easiest, most effective ways to cut your footprint is by repairing leaky faucets and toilets.

  • If you use a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
  • Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket.
  • It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, so showers are generally the more water-efficient way to bathe.
  • All of those flushes can add up to nearly 20 gallons a day down the toilet. If you still have a standard toilet, which uses close to 3.5 gallons a flush, you can save by retrofitting or filling your tank with something that will displace some of that water, such as a brick.

Most front-loading machines are energy- and water-efficient, using just over 20 gallons a load, while most top-loading machines, unless they are energy-efficient, use 40 gallons per load. Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size. Dish washing is a relatively small part of your water footprint—less than 2% of indoor use—but there are always ways to conserve. Using a machine is actually more water efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads. Energy Star dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water per load, and even standard machines use only about 6 gallons. Hand washing generally uses about 20 gallons of water each time.

Yards and Pools
Nearly 60% of a person’s household water footprint can go toward lawn and garden maintenance.
Climate counts—where you live plays a role in how much water you use, especially when it comes to tending to a yard.
The average pool takes 22,000 gallons of water to fill, and if you don’t cover it, hundreds of gallons of water per month can be lost due to evaporation.

Electricity, Fuel Economy, and Airline Travel
The water footprint of your per-day electricity use is based on state averages. If you use alternative energies such as wind and solar, your footprint could be less. (The use of biofuels, however, if they are heavily irrigated, could be another story.) You would also get points, or a footprint reduction, for using energy-star appliances and taking other energy-efficiency measures.

Washing a car uses about 150 gallons of water, so by washing less frequently you can cut back your water use. A gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce. Combine your errands, car pool to work, or take public transportation to reduce both your energy and water use. Flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco, about 700 miles round-trip, could cost you more than 9,000 gallons of water, or enough for almost 2,000 average dishwasher loads. A cross-country airplane trip (about 6,000 miles) could be worth more than 1,700 standard toilet flushes. Traveling from Chicago to Istanbul is just about 10,000 miles round trip, costing enough water to run electricity in the average American home for one person for more than five years.

Industry—Apparel, Home Furnishings, Electronics, and Paper
According to recent reports, nearly 5% of all U.S. water withdrawals are used to fuel industry and the production of many of the material goods we stock up on weekly, monthly, and yearly. It takes about 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton, and the average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material each year. Do you really need that additional T-shirt? One of the best ways to conserve water is to buy recycled goods, and to recycle your stuff when you’re done with it. Or, stick to buying only what you really need. The water required to create your laptop could wash nearly 70 loads of laundry in a standard machine. Recycling a pound of paper, less than the weight of your average newspaper, saves about 3.5 gallons of water. Buying recycled paper products saves water too, as it takes about six gallons of water to produce a dollar worth of paper.

Other Water Conservation Tips & Advice
Don’t use excessive amounts of detergents, bleach or chemicals that may kill the natural bacteria in your septic system. Use biodegradable soaps and detergents. To prevent excessive watering of your lawn in the summertime, purchase an inexpensive spring-loaded timer which attaches directly to your outside faucet. This will prevent over-watering in case you forget to shut off the sprinkler. Water pressure in your home above 60 pounds per square inch is harmful to your plumbing system and will cause excessive water usage. Contact your local water authority to find out what the water pressure is on your street. If it exceeds 60 pounds, consider installing a pressure reducing valve that will limit the water pressure within your home. Check your water meter during a period of time when no water is being used. Make a note of the meter reading and check it 8 to 10 hours later. If the meter has moved, there is an indication that you may have an undetected water leak, which should be corrected.

You can always turn to the professionals at ® for advice and knowledge on water conservation for your home or business.

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