Americans on average use 80-100 gallons of water a day. That’s 127% more than we used in 1950, and compares to some countries where people exist on three gallons a day or less (that’s about one flush – see below). Also, about 95% of the water entering our house goes down the drain. That wastes water – and adds unnecessarily to your water bill.

So here is some information on how much water is needed for various functions, and how you might be able to conserve.




Flushing the toilet

The greatest use of water. The average flush uses three gallons. Multiply that by five flushes per day, and that’s 15 gallons. Some older toilets use more; newer ones use only 1.28 gallons or less.

Look for toilets with a WaterSense label, which meet Federal requirements of 1.6 gallons/flush. Other toilets use 1.28 gallons. And some WaterSense toilets can flush liquid waste at less than one gallon/flush.


A “full tub” uses about 36 gallons of water.

Take a shower (see below).


Old shower head use 5 gallons/minute, but newer low-flow heads use 2 gallons/minute (18 minutes using one of these is equivalent to a typical bath).

Use a newer showerhead, and keep the shower short.  

Washing face/hands

1 gallon.

Turn off the faucet before drying your hands and face.   Install a faucet-head aerator to reduce the water flow rate.


1 gallon.

Turn off the faucet while shaving.

Brushing teeth

4 gallons.

Turn off the faucet while brushing.


6-16 gallons. Newer EnergyStar models use 6 gallons or less.

Buy an EnergyStar model, which will save both water and electricity. And only run the dishwasher when it is full.

Dish washing by hand

8-27 gallons. Newer kitchen faucets use 1.5-2 gallons/minute.

Install a faucet-head aerator. Scrape the food off before turning on the water. Soak the dishes before washing.

Clothes washer

40 gallons/load for old models; 25 gallons/load for new EnergyStar models.

Buy an EnergyStar model, which will save both water and electricity. And only run the machine with a full load.

Drinking water

8 oz. per small glass.

If you pour it drink it.

Outdoor watering

2 gallons/minute.

Water smartly. Experts say more than 50% of landscape water is wasted due to evaporation or runoff caused by over-watering.


One last, important water-saving tip. Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water each year. So check for drips, and fix them if you find them.