Understanding Your Household Water Usage

February 08th, 2024

Homeowner Guides | Buying
Understanding Your Household Water Usage

Understanding Your Household Water Usage

Are you trying to understand your household water usage better? Keep reading to learn more about the average household water usage, how to keep costs down, and more important facts about your household water usage. 

As a homeowner, there will be many important factors to consider and many common mistakes to make along the way. It can be an overwhelming but exciting learning process. One of the most important things to understand is your household water usage, not only for the environment but for your wallet. 

Surprisingly, the average family can waste up to 9,400 gallons of water annually just from household leaks. This equals the amount of water needed to wash over 300 loads of laundry. 

From cooling costs to HVAC systems to curb appeal, being a homeowner is not an easy or cheap job. There are many things you can do to cut down costs around the house, starting with your water usage. 

It is vital to understand the ins and outs of household water usage, but it can be a little confusing at first. Luckily, we have compiled an easy guide to help you understand your household water usage better. 

Keep reading to learn all about your household water usage. 

1. What Is Your Household Water Usage?

Your household water usage includes many factors, including indoor, outdoor, hot water, and more. Tracking residential water usage has been a vital part of environmental studies for years now. This became even more important in 1992 when the Energy Policy Act was established. This act sought to increase energy and water efficiency by putting a maximum flow rate for all residential toilets, showerheads, and faucets. 

In addition to the environmental factors, most homeowners choose to reduce their household water usage as a way to save money. The average homeowner uses about 82 gallons of water per day in the U.S. However, this may vary greatly depending on your lifestyle preferences. 

The largest contributor to water usage in a home is usually the toilet. On average, the toilet uses 33 gallons of water a day. The next largest appliances are showers and faucets. A great deal of water is wasted when people let their showers and faucets run on while they are not in use. This is an easy way to save some extra cash.

While most homeowners focus on water usage inside, outdoor water use is just as important. Outdoor water is landscape irrigation, water used through hoses, water for filling and backwashing pools, and water for washing a home's exterior.

It is important to keep in mind how much water is actually being used versus how much is left running in order to keep environmental and budgetary impacts down. 

Understanding Household Water Usage

2. How Much Water Does The Average Household Use?

Overall, the average American family of four uses about 300 gallons of water per day at home. The majority of water is being used for indoor purposes, although outdoor use does increase during the summer months. 

Keep in mind that your household water usage does not directly remove water from the global water cycle. However, it does remove it from the part of the water cycle that is usable by humans. Many people use the phrase "wasted" water, which means the energy and resources that are usually used to process and deliver the water are being wasted. 

Household water usage does vary greatly from state to state. Water use is as low as 51 gallons per day in Wisconsin and 168 gallons per day in Idaho. Western states are seen to consistently rank highest in domestic water use per capita, according to The Hamilton Project

If you are interested in seeing a more detailed look at your household water usage if you live in a city, your water bill should state how many gallons of water you used in the last billing period. Simply divide the number of gallons by the number of people in your home, then divide again by the number of days of your billing period. 

Your household water usage may be extremely different than the average household water usage, but if you are worried about using too much water, then this simple equation is a great way to figure out where you can cut back on your water usage. 

Here is a breakdown of water use per appliance in the United States:

Appliance Water Gallons Per Day Percent of Total
Toilet 33 gallons 24%
Shower 27 gallons 20%
Faucet 27 gallons 20%
Washing Machine 22 gallons 16%
Leaks 18 gallons 13%
Bath 4 gallons 3%
Dishwasher 2 gallons 2%
Other 4 gallons 3%
Total 138 gallons 100%

*Data was sourced from Residential End Uses of Water, V2 (2016)

Be mindful of your household water usage

3. How Much Does Water Cost?

The average water bill will vary depending on the location and home type. If you live in an apartment, your average utility bill should be around $150, and around $400 in a house. Set aside money each month to allocate towards your utility bill. This includes the costs of electricity, gas, water, interest, and cable. Just like any other part of your utilities, you can take daily steps to lower your water bill. 

The water portion of utilities is usually smaller than electricity, gas, cable, and internet. According to the World Population Review, Wisconsin and Vermont are the least expensive states for water as the average water costs $18. West Virginal and California have the most expensive monthly costs at $91 and $77, respectively. 

North Carolina has the third-lowest average water bill of $20 per month. The cost of water in your area may differ slightly from other locations across the state. The Broad River Water Authority (BRWA) rates start at $30.00 per month, including the first 1,000 gallons of water used. After that, each additional 1,000 gallons of water is about $5.65. 

If a family of four uses somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 gallons of water monthly, their water bill will range from $52.60 to $63.90. This will also vary based on your daily habits and lifestyle preferences. 

Fixable household water leaks

4. Water Saving Tips

There are many easy ways to conserve water and lower your water bill—the number one way to avoid letting water run while it's not in use. For example, don't let the water run while washing dishes by hand, brushing your teeth, washing your hands or face, and so on.

If you really want to conserve water while washing dishes, you can fill two basins with water and use one to wash and one to rinse. Surprisingly, dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand. The Department of Energy ranks Energy Star as the top water-saving dishwasher. On average, Energy Star dishwashers use 12% less energy and 30% less water than other models. 

Here are a couple more easy water-saving tips:

  • Refillable water bottles are a great alternative, so you won't have to wash them multiple times daily. 
  • Soak pots and pans. 
  • Move food into the refrigerator to thaw instead of soaking them in water. 
  • Turn off the tap water while shaving or brushing your teeth. 
  • Take showers instead of baths, but be mindful of how long you let the water run.
  • Wash full loads of laundry instead of multiple smaller loads throughout the week. 
  • Set your washing machine to cold water instead of hot. 
  • Put your sprinklers on a timer. 

The bottom line is that it is completely up to you how much water and money you save each month in relation to your household water usage. 

Turn off water while washing dishes

5. How to Deal With Leaks

On average, leaks make up about 13% of the total household water. Even minor leaks will have an impact on your household water usage, and they are typically too easy to fix or ignore. 

The best way to check for hidden water leaks is to turn off all the faucets in your home and then check the meter. If it is running, then you have a water leak. 

Usually, you can spot a leakage in your home when you see wet spots between the meter and the house or the sprinkler system. However, there are a couple of tips and tricks to keep in mind when checking for leaks. 

First, if you can hear running water from your toilet, you most likely have a leak. If you aren't sure, try dropping dye in the toilet tank, and don't flush it. If the water in the bowl changes color, then you have a leak. 

The most common places in a house for leaks are kitchen sinks, hose bibs, hot water tanks, bathrooms, and toilets. When searching for leaks, listen for a hissing sound, which should help you find the main location. 

Ensure you routinely check for leaks


We used data from several different sources to help determine the main factors contributing to your household water usage. Most of the data we collected was sourced from the following sources: 

FAQ: Understanding Your Household Water Usage

Here are some commonly asked questions about household water usage.

What is normal water consumption for a house?

The average American uses about 82 gallons of water per day at home, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

What uses the most water in a house?

Typically, flushing the toilet is the largest contributor to household water usage. Following the toilet are showers and baths. A leaking toilet can water over 15,000 gallons of water per month, so it is essential to check your toilet for a leak every so often. 

What is the wasteful use of water?

Overusing water can be done in many ways. You can cut down on your water bill by making sure water doesn't run while you are not using it, limiting your washing machine usage, and shortening your showers. 

What is the average daily water usage for a family of 4?

The average family of 4 will use approximately 400 gallons of water per day, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 

How much water should an average household use?

The average person should use about 37 gallons of water per day to limit their water costs and the impact on the environment. For a whole household, this translates to about 92 gallons of water used per day. 

Household Water Usage - The Bottom Line

Now that you understand household water usage, you should be prepared to make any changes within your household to lower your water usage if you need to. Understanding how household water usage impacts your bank account and environmental footprint is important. 

The best part of understanding your household water usage is that it is extremely easy to make small lifestyle changes that will save you tons of money on your water bill. These will help you keep all the money you saved up before buying your home. Remember to routinely check for leaks in your house so you are not wasting extra water without even knowing. 

If you are considering moving to a new area, you should definitely consider Raleigh, North Carolina. As the capital of NC, Raleigh is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country and has many beautiful homes for sale; you'll have to act fast if you want to buy your dream home in one of Raleigh's best neighborhoods

Before you buy your next home in the Triangle, feel free to contact one of our helpful real estate specialists, as they are eager to help you find the perfect home. We know that buying a home can be overwhelming, so make sure you are prepared beforehand. 

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!

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