How Much Water Do I Use? What you Need to Know About Water Consumption

Do you suspect that your water bill is a little higher than it should be? If so, you might have an undetected leak somewhere on your property. Understanding normal water consumption rates per person will help you understand what your household likely uses, thereby allowing you to judge your water bill accordingly. Plus, these surprising facts might inspire you to change your water usage and save on water bills in the future!

Understanding the Water Use Efficiency Rule in Washington

Before discussing water consumption rates, it’s important to understand the Water Use Efficiency Rule in the state of Washington. When the 2003 Municipal Water Law (MWL) was passed, it impacted consumers and their communities alike. The law accomplished two primary goals:

  1. To give municipalities the flexibility needed to grow their communities without forfeiting rights to the state
  2. In exchange for increased flexibility, municipalities must showcase and document efficient water usage

Not only does this result in water saving goals for consumers, but it also protects against water service interruption, contamination, and limited water supply. The state of Washington has specific water use efficiency considerations because of its geographic location in the Pacific Northwest. Aside from providing drinking water for its booming population, the state must also provide water for agriculture, recreation, industry, and conserve enough water for fish. Through these implemented efficiency programs, the state of Washington is able to meet current and projected needs. How is your household contributing to water efficiency? Check it out and see


Estimated Water Consumption for a Family of Four

A family of four should consume an average of 400 gallons of water a day, according to a report published by the EPA. The majority of this consumption occurs in the bathroom. Flushing the toilet accounts for approximately 27 percent of daily water consumption. Depending on the toilet used, each flush drains an estimated 3.5 to 7 gallons of water.

Other water stats from the bathroom include the shower, which composes nearly 17 percent of daily water consumption, as well as faucets, which constitute 16 percent of daily use. In general, a running faucet releases two gallons of water per minute. Washing machines account for 22 percent of water use. Though older models of washing machines use 40 gallons per load, the most innovative machines use 25 gallons per cycle.

In addition to these daily uses, water leaks account for an estimated 14 percent of water bills across the nation. For instance, a leaking toilet potentially wastes upwards of 200 gallons per day.  This is why it’s so important for homeowners to be aware of changes in the water bill – and call an expert if leaks are suspected.

Breaking Down Typical Water Use At Home


Don’t run water when brushing your teeth to save up to 2 gallons per day.

These statistics highlight the fact that the bulk of water consumption at home occurs in the bathroom, but let’s break it down even further. If you want to conserve water and keep track of how much water your family is using, then it’s critical to understand how much water the average person consumes per day. Here are a few stats to consider:

  • Showers. Each time you take a shower, approximately 2 gallons of water is used per minute. If you have an older showerhead, the figure might be as high as 5 gallons per minute.
  • Shaving. Whether you’re shaving your face or legs, the estimated water consumption is the same: 1 gallon.
  • Teeth brushing. This is likely less than 1 gallon per day, assuming that you turn the water off while brushing your teeth. However, leaving the faucet on can result in 2 gallons of water being used throughout the day.
  • Dishwashing. Did you know that it’s more efficient to use the dishwasher than to wash the dishes by hand? Most dishwashers use anywhere from 4 to 10 gallons of water per load, while dishwashing by hand uses an estimated 20 gallons of water on average.
  • Outdoor watering. If you water any vegetation or plants outside your home, you’re probably using 5 to 10 gallons per minute.

These figures can help you gain a good perspective on how much water your household consumes on a daily basis. Keep in mind, of course, that consumption can vary based on your habits, age of the home, and the shower and faucet heads installed. Regardless of the efficiency of the equipment used, our lifestyle and habits are the greatest driving factors behind water consumption. If you need ideas to lessen your household’s daily water consumption, National Geographic offers useful tips on reducing water consumption without impacting your lifestyle.

If Your Water Bill Is Unusually High

There are a plethora of reasons why a high water bill can occur in any given month. A simple investigation can help make sure that your bill is accurate and that you don’t have a leak on your property. First, check the meter reading if it is accessible. If not, it’s still possible to estimate water consumption accurately. While you can certainly check for leaks on your own, it’s important to consider hiring a professional team to check for leaks around your property. Though most leaks are easy to find, many can go undetected. Consider the cost of these hidden leaks:

  • Toilets. A leaking toilet often results in 100 gallons of water lost per week.
  • Faucets. A dripping faucet generally wastes 15 gallons of water a day. A 1/8th inch sized leak can cause you to use more than 3,500 gallons of water per day.
  • Sprinkler systems and washing machines are known for expensive leaks as well.
spokane toilet leak

Water leak at the base of a toilet.

In fact, your household could be using more than 10,000 gallons of water per year from undetected leaks. Aside from a high water bill, this is water wasted that makes conservation efforts more challenging to sustain. Investing in leak detection is critical to not only keep your water bill in check, but to ensure your water consumption is reasonable.

These statistics will give you a good barometer on how much water your household is likely consuming. By staying aware of water consumption trends, you can ensure that your family is only using the water it needs and that your water bill is charging you accordingly.

Image Credits: Leaky toilet by Leakmasters, Brushing Teeth by Flickr User Dominic Sayers, Family of Four by Flickr User Liz West