Have you ever wondered how much water you use every month? For the money you pay on your water bill every month, how many gallons of water does that buy you?
The estimate for monthly water usage tends to vary quite a bit depending on who is doing the estimation. A lot of other factors also come into play when determining the actual water usage of a household. So, in reality, your specific water usage can be a lot (several times) higher or lower than the average figure.
Related: How to Save Money on Water Bill
Some of the factors that impact the water usage of a household include:
Swimming Pools Water Usage
Households that have a swimming pool will likely use more water during the warmer months when they fill up their pools. A significant amount of pool water will be lost to evaporation and spillage – the hotter the weather and the more you use the pool, the more water will be lost and thus need to be replenished. Larger swimming pools will also increase water usage as a result of increased water evaporation and spillage.
Lawns & Gardens Water Usage
Households that have a lawn or a garden will likely use more water due to their need for irrigation. This is especially true during the growing seasons of spring and summer. The larger your garden, the more water you will use. Also, you will need to use more water for irrigation if you live in a hotter or drier climate. The types of plants you have planted in your garden also matter, a lot. The United States has many different climate zones and topographic and geographic features. Choosing plants that are drought resistant and native to your locale can help you to reduce your usage of irrigation water significantly.
Bath vs Shower Water Usage
Whether you and your family take baths instead of showers would also have a significant impact on the water usage of your household. The average tub bath uses about 20.2 gallons of water. On the other hand, the average shower uses about 15.8 gallons. If you take longer showers, you will be using more water. The type of shower head you use also matters. Newer, more water efficient shower heads can significantly cut down on the water usage of your shower.
Laundry Frequency Water Usage
A typical household in the United States take around 300 loads of laundry per year on average. But the specific frequency of laundry of each household will vary a lot. Some households do multiple loads of laundry each day while other households do one load of laundry per week or even per month. The number of people in a household also matters – a household with multiple children will need to do laundry a lot more frequently than someone who lives alone.
Toilet Tank Types Water Usage
The type of toilet tanks you use can also make a significant impact on the water usage of your household. For the older toilet tanks, each flush uses up 5 to 7 gallons of water. All new homes are required to come with a new, water efficient type of commode where each flush only uses 1.5 gallons of water. That is as much as an 80% reduction in water usage per flush.
Water Leaks Water Usage
Water leaks in your home can be a very significant source of water usage. For example, a dripping faucet can use up 10,800 gallons of water per month. That is more than the total water usage of 3 average people in a month. A leaking toilet is even worse – it can use up 21,600 gallons of water per month, more than the total water usage of 7 people.
Average Monthly Water Bill by State
|State||Monthly Water Bill|
Average Water Usage per Month per Person
As we have mentioned, the actual monthly water usage of your household depends on a lot of factors and can be very different from the nationwide average number. So you should keep that in mind when comparing your water usage to the United States average.
With that in mind, a typical person in the United States uses about 3,000 gallons of water in an average month – for showering, toilet flushing, laundering, washing, watering, recreation, and of course, drinking.
Average Water Usage per Month for a Family of 2
For a family of 2 in the United States, the average water usage is about 6,000 gallons of water per month.
Average Water Usage per Month for a Family of 4
For a family of 4 in the United States, the average water usage is about 12,000 gallons of water per month.
Water Usage Breakdowns
Let us take a more detailed look at the water usage of a typical household – how the water usage breaks down into the major categories.
On average, for a typical household, its indoor and outdoor water usages are more or less the same. We will look at indoor and outdoor water usage separately.
For those in a hurry, the table below summarizes the average water usage breakdowns for a typical household in the United States.
Average Water Usage Breakdowns for Typical Households of Various Sizes
|Category||% of Total Household Usage||Monthly Usage for 1 Person||Monthly Usage for a Family of 2||Monthly Usage for a Family of 4|
|Outdoor Uses – Swimming Pool, Irrigation, Car Washing, etc||50%||1500 gallons||3000 gallons||4500 gallons|
|Toilet Flushing||12%||360 gallons||720 gallons||1440 gallons|
|Showering||10%||300 gallons||600 gallons||1200 gallons|
|Faucet Flow||9.5%||285 gallons||570 gallons||1140 gallons|
|Clothes Washing||8.5%||255 gallons||510 gallons||1020 gallons|
|Indoor Leaks||6%||180 gallons||360 gallons||720 gallons|
|Baths||1.5%||45 gallons||90 gallons||180 gallons|
|Dishwashers||0.5%||15 gallons||30 gallons||60 gallons|
|Other Indoor Uses||2%||60 gallons||120 gallons||240 gallons|
|TOTAL||100%||3000 gallons||6000 gallons||12000 gallons|
Household Indoor Water Usage
Indoor water usage includes toilet flushing, showering, bathing, faucet flow, clothes washing, leaks, and dishwashers. For a typical household in the United States, the monthly indoor water usage is about 4,100 gallons on average.
Toilet Flushing Water Usage
Toilet flushing represents the largest indoor use of water in a typical home. Is that a surprise to you? It sure is to me. On average, a person flushes the toilet 5 times a day. It accounts for about 24% of total household indoor water usage.
For a single-person household, that comes out to 360 gallons of water per month. For a family of 2, that is 720 gallons. For a family of 4, it is 1,440 gallons every month. 1,440 gallons of water every month just for flushing – that is a lot of water.
You can greatly reduce the amount of water you use on toilet flushing by upgrading your existing toilet to a high efficiency toilet that meets the WaterSense specifications of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Showering Water Usage
After toilet flushing, showering is the 2nd largest indoor use of water in a typical home. It accounts for about 20% of total household indoor water usage.
For a single-person household, that comes out to 300 gallons of water per month. For a family of 2, that is 600 gallons. For a family of 4, it is 1,200 gallons every month. On average, each shower uses 15.8 gallons of water and lasts for 7.7 minutes at an average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute. Compare that to the navy shower which lasts for just 2 minutes and can use less than 3 gallons of water.
That represents an over 80% reduction in water usage just by taking shorter showers! In addition to reducing the duration of your showers, you can also reduce the amount of water you use in showering by replacing your existing shower head with one of the newer types of the ultra efficient shower heads available on the market.
Faucet Flow Water Usage
Faucet flow refers to the water flowing through opened faucets. It includes kitchen, bathroom, utility sink faucets, and hose bibs. It represents the 3rd largest indoor use of water in a typical home. It accounts for about 19% of total household indoor water usage.
For a single-person household, that comes out to 285 gallons of water per month. For a family of 2, that is 570 gallons. For a family of 4, it is 1,140 gallons every month. On average, faucets are opened for 30 seconds at a flow of 1 GPM (gallons per minute) and an average discharge of 0.5 gallons (1.9 liters) per each use.
Clothes Washing Water Usage
Clothes washing is the 4th largest indoor use of water in a typical home. It accounts for about 17% of total household indoor water usage.
For a single-person household, that comes out to 255 gallons of water per month. For a family of 2, that is 510 gallons. For a family of 4, it is 1,020 gallons every month. The typical household washes 300 loads of laundry every year.
You can greatly reduce the amount of water you use on clothes washing by upgrading your existing clothes washer to a new model that meets the ENERGY STAR standard of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Indoor Leaks Water Usage
Leaks is the 5th largest indoor “use” of water in a typical home. It accounts for about 12% of total household indoor water usage. That is a shock to me. According to one study, indoor leaks are present in almost 90% of all households.
On average, indoor leaks are estimated to be causing a waste of 6,200 gallons of water per year in a typical household. Common types of water leaks include running toilets, leaking toilet flappers, partially opened or dripping faucets, and cracked or open supply lines.
Fixed these leaks and you will cut down a big chunk of your water bill. And keep in mind, the 12% figure here includes indoor leaks only. There are also outdoor leaks such as leaks on your outdoor bibs.
Baths Water Usage
For a typical household, baths account for just 3% of total indoor water usage. This figure is much lower than that of showers (3% for baths vs 20% for showers) because most people take baths only very infrequently. In fact, the majority of households (53%) are shower-only households – they never take baths.
Even among households that do take baths, only 2.7 baths are taken each week. Compare that to the 12.4 showers taken each week in an average household. On a per use level, bath is more water inefficient that shower – the average bath uses 20.2 gallons of water while the average shower uses 15.8 gallons. If you still take baths, switching to shower can help you cut down on water usage.
Dishwashers Water Usage
Dishwashers represent a relatively low 1% of total household indoor water usage. The typical American household washes on average 1.8 dishwasher loads each week. The average amount of water used per load is 6.1 gallons. By switching to the most efficient ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers, you can cut that down to 2.4 to 3.2 gallons per load.
Household Outdoor Water Usage
Outdoor water usage includes filling and backwashing swimming pool, landscape irrigation, water used through outdoor faucets (hose bibs) for washing pavement and cars, and other outdoor uses.
Outdoor water usage varies wildly, depending on factors such as the climate, the size of the yard, and the presence or absence of a swimming pool. Average monthly household outdoor water usage ranges from 1,100 gallons in Waterloo, Canada to 10,000 gallons in Scottsdale, Arizona. For a typical household in the United States, the monthly outdoor water usage is about 4,100 gallons on average.
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.