Tips for Saving Water

A finite resource

It’s cheap. It’s safe. It tastes great. And it’s just a turn of the faucet away. No wonder water is in such demand. No wonder most people try not to waste it. But there are many, many ways to save water. So many, in fact, that there’s a good chance you’re missing out on some great ones.

Here’s your guide to dozens of easy, practical ways to make the most of something we just can’t do without.

man washing face

Reduce Your Indoor Water Use

Rooms

Water Uses

Wasteful (Gallons per use)

"Water-Wise" (Gallons per use)   

Potential Savings Per Use

Gallons Saved

Percent Improved

Baths

Flushing toilets

6 (older models)

1.5-3 (low-flow models)

3-4.5

50-75

Showering

5 gal./min.

2.5 gal./min.

2.5 gal./min

50*

Bathing in tub

30 (1/2 full)

15 (1/4 full)

15

15*

Brushing teeth

2 (faucet on)

1/8 (quick rinse)

1(7/8)

94

Shaving

2-5 (faucet on)

1 (using basin)

2-4

33-60*

Laundry

Top-loading washing machine

<50-60 (older models)

40 (newer models)

10-20

10-33*

Front-loading washing machine

33 (older models)

17-28 (newer models)

5-16

15-48*

Kitchen

Hand-washing dishes

16 (faucet rinse)

6 (basin rinse)

10

63*

Machine-washing dishes

12-15 (older models)(plus 3-5 gal. if pre-rinsing)

6-9 (newer models)

3-14

33-70

Throughout Your Home

  • Upgrade your faucets and aerators! You can also save water by upgrading to WaterSense labeled faucets or aerators. WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and aerators use a maximum of 1.5 gpm.  By upgrading, you can save 30% or more from the standard flow of 2.2 gpm. This would save the average family 700 gallons of water per year.
  • Reuse dehumidifier water.
  • Fix leaky faucets. This one step alone could cut your water usage by almost 20%.
  • Insulate your hot water pipes.
  • Switch to on-demand water heaters close to your showers and kitchen sink.
  • If you purchase a top-loading machine, get one with a suds-saver. It enables you to reuse most of the sudsy wash water for a second load.
  • Avoid fountains and pools that don’t have recirculating pumps.

Bathroom

  •  Turn off the water while lathering up, shaving, or brushing teeth. As much as 3,000 gallons per year can be saved with this simple step.
  • Trim a minute off the length of your showers. You’ll save on your water-heating bills, too. Shortening your shower by one minute saves 550 gallons of water a year.
  • Minimize baths and the amount of water you use for each.
  • Submerge a plastic bottle or two filled with sand inside each toilet tank in your house. (Be sure it doesn’t interfere with the flushing mechanism.) Every time you flush, you’ll save the volume in those bottles.
  • Use a bucket to capture shower and bath water while you wait for it to warm up. Then use it in your toilet tank or to water plants.
  • Don’t forget to test your toilets for leaks!  By performing a simple test using dye tablets or food coloring, you can determine if you have a toilet leak. View our step-by-step video.
  • Buy an inexpensive kit to convert your toilet to dual-flush mode (or, for free, use the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule).
  • Put food coloring in the toilet tank. If it reaches the bowl without a flush, replace the flapper valve.

Toilets

  • Toilets account for nearly 30% of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Old, inefficient toilets can use as much as 6 gallons per flush and are a major source of wasted water in many homes. New, water-efficient toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush or less while still providing equal or superior performance. This is 20% less water than the current federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush.
  • Tip: Use a Water-Saving Toilet
  • Look for the WaterSense label when shopping for a new water-saving toilet. WaterSense labeled toilets are independently certified to meet the EPA's rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. By upgrading to water-efficient toilets, an average family can reduce water used for toilets by 20 to 60%—that's nearly 13,000 gallons of water savings every year.
Toilet Leaks- How To Find Them And Make An Easy Repair

Showerheads

  • Showering accounts for nearly 17% of residential indoor water use. This can add up to 40 gallons per day for the average family.
  • Tip: Use a Water-Efficient Showerhead
  • Upgrading to water–efficient showerheads is a simple way to reduce household water use. Standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm) while WaterSense labeled showerheads use no more than 2.0 gpm. The average family could save 2,900 gallons per year just by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads.

Kitchen

  • Don't run the tap just to chill the water. Use a pitcher to chill drinking water in the refrigerator instead.
  • Wash full loads only in your dishwasher (ditto with your washing machine).
  • Hand-wash dishes in a pan, not under running water.
  • Keep a bowl by your kitchen sink to save water you’d otherwise let run down the drain – including pasta and other cooking water. Use this for your plants.
  • Steam vegetables instead of boiling then. It uses less water, and improves flavor and nutrition, too.
  • Keep vegetable scraps out of the garbage disposal, which uses a lot of water. Compost them for your garden.

Dishwashers

  • Tip: Run Full Loads
  • The easiest way to save water when using your dishwasher is to make sure you are only running full loads.
  • Tip: Upgrade to an ENERGY STAR Certified Dishwasher
  • If your dishwasher was built before 1994, it wastes more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. An ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher will save approximately 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime.

Washing Machines

  • Washing machine use accounts for 15% to 40% of an average family's indoor water consumption.
  • Tip: Adjust Your Load Amounts and Settings 
  • To conserve the most water, make sure you are running full loads or adjust to the correct load level setting.
  • Tip: Upgrade to an ENERGY STAR Certified Washing Machine
  • By upgrading to an ENERGY STAR certified washing machine, you can save 45% of the water and 25% of the energy. Washing machines built before 2003 are less efficient than newer models. An ENERGY STAR certified washing machine uses 13 gallons of water per load verses 23 gallons for a standard machine.

Reduce Your Outdoor Water Use 

Did you know? Most homes use 30% of their water outdoors.

  • Sweep driveways, steps, and sidewalks instead of hosing them clean.
  • Use car washes that recycle water.
  • Cover swimming pools at night.
  • Avoid fountains and pools that don’t have recirculating pumps.

Lawn and Garden Irrigation Tips

Learn more