Water usage varies from person to person. However, we can look at statistics and draw a picture of how much water the typical person uses each day. We’ll also break down how that water is used in the average home.
In the U.S., the average water used per person is somewhere between 80 and 110 gallons per day per person. The average family uses about 300 gallons of water per day. Note that this doesn’t take into account the water required to raise crops to feed them. This estimate doesn’t include ‘virtual water’. Virtual water refers to the water needed to make things we use every day. For example, raising a ton of grain requires thousand tons of water. If you factor in the virtual water required to fuel our consumption, the global average is 3400 liters or 900 gallons per day. The American average per capita consumption of water is 6800 liters or 1800 gallons when you factor in virtual water.
Very little of the 100 gallons of water consumed per day by each of us is drinking water. The classic advice of drinking eight glasses of water per day adds up to a gallon of water per person. Nor do most of us pull more than a few gallons of water per day for food preparation and cooking. So where is all of the water going?
Bathing accounts for 20-40 gallons of water per person per day. A full bathtub requires 36 gallons of water. A traditional shower head puts out five gallons per minute. More efficient shower heads use about two gallons of water per minute. The irony is how often people take a long shower arguing that it saves water over taking a bath. Once you’ve been in there for fifteen minutes, you would have been better off with the bath. One solution is learning to deal with cold showers. Another option is installing a tankless hot water heater so that you don’t have to run the water while waiting for it to get warm. Altogether, bathing accounts for one-fifth of our daily water usage. Just don’t let the toddler think they can skip a bath for the sake of the planet. The average person uses around two gallons of water per day to wash their hands and brush their teeth. Don’t forget to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving. Putting aerators on your faucets will give you higher water pressure while using less water.
The biggest water waster in an average home is the toilet. The typical traditional toilet needs three gallons of water per flush, and we flush them between six to eight times a day. Eco-friendly toilets require about two gallons of water per flush but you may need to flush it twice to get the solids to go down. This means that toilets can consume up to 24 gallons per person per day. That is roughly a quarter of the total water we use each day! Leaking toilets are making this issue even worse. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day, or 6000 gallons per month. This makes fixing toilet leaks one of the best things you can do to save water. But, again, even a perfectly working toilet accounts for roughly a quarter of our personal water usage.
A load of laundry in the average washing machine requires ten to fifteen gallons of water per load. Note that there are more efficient models, and most of us aren’t doing a load of laundry per day per person. You can maximize your water efficiency by only running the washer when it is full and not running a second rinse if it isn’t needed. Note that any water tap can leak and waste as much water as your toilet, so have any water leak repaired as soon as it is discovered. We focus on leaks because they average to 17 gallons per household per day wasted in the United States. Yes, 12% of all water used in our homes just goes down the drain. The typical dishwasher uses four to ten gallons of water per load. You can improve the water and energy efficiency of the unit by only running it when it is completely full. Consider scraping off dishes into the trash instead of running the dishwasher on a heavy duty cycle. Don’t run a heated dry cycle or steam clean cycle unless it is actually necessary. Washing dishes by hand isn’t really a water saver. Depending on how efficiently you use the water in the sink, you may be able to fully clean the dishes with less than ten gallons of water. All of this direct indoor water usage totals up to sixty to sixty-five gallons of water per person. If you’re an apartment dweller, that is probably how much water you’re using per day. If you own the typical suburban home, though, that’s just the start.
The remaining third of the average home owner’s water usage takes place outside. Outdoor water faucets will pull roughly two gallons per minute. Sprinklers can use much more water than this. Fortunately, most of us aren’t running the sprinklers more than we need to, and a lot of households don’t have sprinkler systems at all. This makes selecting an effective watering schedule a major water-saving measure. Don’t water the grass if it doesn’t need it. We aren’t going to address the water needed to run swimming pools or spas. If you own one and use it often, this will skew average water usage to about 175 gallons per day.
The average apartment dweller could use as little as 60 gallons per day per person. Most suburban dwellers are using a hundred gallons per person per day. And there are plenty of ways to use far more water than this on a daily basis.