The average water use for United State's citizens is 100 gallons per day. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, this is four times the minimum water requirement for a good quality of life (26.4 gallons). At home the average household uses 120,000 gallons each year (329 gallons per day). Each household could cut more than 60% of their water use with the implementation of water-efficient appliances and practices designed to reduce, reuse, or harvest water.
The following chart illustrates the typical end-uses of water in U.S. homes. As you can see that the outdoor irrigation of lawn and garden accounts for more than half of water consumed by a U.S. household.
On this page we introduce the common ways to reduce your water footprint. Specifically, there is a discussion of the following water management strategies and technologies:
Any water leaks will likely be the largest water consumer in your house. Thus, the first step to reducing your water usage - examine your home for leaks. Check out American Water's "how-to guide" for checking for indoor and outdoor water leaks to learn how to do so.
WATER SAVING PRACTICES
The easiest and cheapest way to use less water is to be conscious of your daily water usage and changing your daily habits to reduce your water consumption.
Good water saving practices include:
• Taking shorter showers.
• Turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
• Avoid unnecessary flushing of toilets.
• Use less water in laundry cycles.
• Take showers rather than baths (70 gallons per bath, 15-25 galons per shower).
• If you cannot give up baths, only fill up the bath 1/3 of the way and be sure to plug the tub before turning the water on.
• Don't use running water to thaw food.
For more water saving tips, visit Water Conservation Tips for Residents by EPA.
REDUCE OUTDOOR WATER USE
According to the EPA, "as much as 50% of the water we use outdoors is wasted from inefficient watering methods and systems." Nationally, landscape irrigation accounts for almost 9 billion gallons per day. One way to reduce this water usage is to use WaterSense® certified irrigation technologies. Just as ENERGY STAR® label serves as an energy conservation certification for household appliances, the WaterSense® label, developed by the United State's Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA), serves as a certification for water conservation appliances.
For more information about the WaterSense outdoor water-saving tips, visit their WaterSense® Outdoor webpage. There you can find landscape design strategies, real water-saving home examples, recommendations on when to use water outdoors, irrigation control systems, and how to find a professional in your area.
Additional ways to reduce your outdoor water usage include using your home's graywater for irrigation or installing rainwater harvesting for irrigation. Both of these topics are describes in more detail below.
WATERSENSE® APPLIANCES AND FIXTURES
WaterSense doesn’t only provide outdoor water savings; they also certify household appliances. WaterSense products are proven by an independent third party to perform at least 20% more water efficient than non-WaterSense certified products. Low-flow plumbing fixtures can save water, and for showerheads and faucets they will also save energy that is typically used to heat water. Learn more at the "WaterSense Products" webpage.
Graywater is non-potable water that has not been in contact with and human waste, food, or other organic matter. In your home, graywater commonly originates from bathroom sinks, showers, and laundry machines. This water accounts for 50 to 80% of the total wastewater effluence of a household. According to the EPA, those sources account for 30% of total household water usage. A home's lawn and garden is the largest consumers of water in a typical household (46% of all water usage), and you can supplant much of this water demand by using your home's graywater. By reusing graywater to meet your landscaping requirements you save money by decreasing your water bill, and keep water out of the sewer or septic system thereby reducing run-off and pollution of your local water bodies.6
You can harvest your rainwater for direct use as non-potable water or filter it to make potable water in most regions of the United State's. There are arid locations such as Denver, Colorado, where this practice is not allowed so be sure to check your local regulations. Rainwater is typically harvested using "rain barrels." Rain barrels collect run-off water from the roof and divert it to a barrel or other type of water storage container. Most of these systems are small, consisting of only a few 55 gallon barrels. Rain water can be used directly to water plants on a property. Larger rain collection systems do exist, but cost more to install. The Ohio Department of Health provides a document explaining the process and regulations for installing larger water collection systems known as cisterns. These systems more commonly are linked to the internal plumbing of a structure, and can provide graywater for landscaping as well as laundry, toilets, and other graywater uses.
For regulations about rainwater collection, please check your local jurisdiction and the Ohio Department of Health webpage.
We appreciate your feedback for us to make the water conservation webpage more useful and relevant to you
- "U.N. Highlights World Water Crisis" by National Geographic - News of the world-wide water crisis.
- "Water Rebate Finder" by WaterSense® (EPA) - Find rebates in your state related to water efficiency.
- "Water Budget Tool" by EPA - To calculate your potential water savings, use EPA's easy-to-use excel spreadsheet (requires Microsoft Excel).
- "Watersense" by EPA - Introduction to the WaterSense certification program.
- "Water Conservation Tips for Residents" by EPA - List of ways to save water throughout a home
- "About Graywater Reuse" by greywateraction.org - Detailed graywater reuse information.
- "Plans for Developing a Rainwater Cistern or Hauled Water Supply" by Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Environmental Health - Comprehensive document providing information related to rainwater harvesting including: sizing, permitting, locating, maintenance, and examples.
- "Low-Flow Fixtures" by Rutgers University - Information about low-flow fixtures.
- "The Water Leak Detection Kit" by amwater.com - A detailed guide for locating indoor and outdoor water leaks.
- "Water Usage Calculator" by hunterwater.com.au - A water usage calculator that estimates your annual water usage, and provides recommendations to reduce your water usage.
- "Outdoors" by WaterSense® (EPA) - Information about the WaterSense outdoor water-saving tips with detailed discussion landscape deign strategies, real water-saving home examples, recommendations on when to use water outdoors, irrigation control systems, and how to find a professional in your area.
- "Outdoor Water Use in the United States" by the EPA - Introduction page to outdoor water use in the United States, with a discussion of water wasted from inefficient watering methods.