How many times do you turn on the tap each day? It may be more than you realize, which means you could be using more water than you’d expect.
On average, American households collectively use 29 billion gallons of water daily, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Check out these facts about water use — along with some tips to help you cut back.
The average family uses 320 gallons of water per day — and can increase consumption up to 1,000 gallons per day during the summer, according to the EPA. That increase is largely driven by people watering their lawns and performing other landscaping tasks during the hot summer months, the EPA notes. But there are many ways to limit water use, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). Some tips the agency recommends include repairing leaky pipes and installing low-flow fixtures and an energy-efficient dishwasher, washing machine and other appliances.
One drip per second could waste as much as 1,661 gallons of water per year, according to the DOE. Not only will you be wasting a lot of water, but your water bill may be as much as $35 more per year due to the leak, the DOE notes.
The American Red Cross recommends this process to investigate whether you have a leak: Read your water meter, go 30 minutes without using water and then check the meter again. If the reading has changed, you likely have a leak. If that’s the case, consider contacting a plumber to help locate and fix it.
Taking a bath uses more than 35 gallons of water on average, says the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS recommends showering instead of bathing — as long as you keep an eye on the time. You could use up to 100 gallons of water if you took a 20-minute shower, according to the USGS.
Another way to help conserve water is to update your showerhead, the USGS adds. A low-flow showerhead can help save up to 3 gallons per minute compared to older showerheads, says the USGS.
Depending on where you live, 30 to 60 percent of your water use can be spent outdoors on activities like landscaping and gardening, according to the EPA. Up to 25,000 gallons — and more than $90 every six months — can be wasted if just one lawn sprinkler is broken, according to the EPA.
To use water efficiently, the EPA recommends watering your yard in the morning or evening to help decrease evaporation. Make sure you aren’t overwatering, the EPA adds. Your lawn generally only needs to be watered every five to seven days in the summer and every 10 to 14 days in the winter if you live in a warmer climate, according to the American Red Cross.
Collectively, your bathroom habits may account for almost 60 percent of all indoor water use, states the EPA. Just one toilet flush can use three or more gallons of water, and with six to eight flushes, you could use 18 to 24 gallons of water daily, the USGS says.
To help improve efficiency, the EPA suggests replacing the rubber flapper in your toilet. Once the flapper is worn out, it can cause excess water to go down the drain. You’ll also want to check for leaks, as a toilet leak may waste an average of 200 gallons per day, according to the EPA. Check for leaks by placing several drops of food coloring into the toilet tank. If the color appears in your toilet bowl after 10 minutes or so, you have a leak, the EPA advises. You’ll want to identify the source of a leak and repair it — or call in a professional plumber to do the job.
You might also consider replacing your toilet. According to USGS, many older toilets use about four gallons of water per flush, while newer models can use as little as 1.6 gallons per flush. If you’re interested in learning how much water your family uses daily, check out this water use survey from the USGS.
Now that you know a little bit more about water use, you can take steps to help reduce your own impact.