With water getting scarcer and scarcer each passing day, there is a real need to be proactive against water wastage. On average, an individual wastes up to 30 gallons of water each day which is quite staggering especially when you consider there are so many places on Earth where clean water is a luxury. So, how is water wasted at house?
It is a combination of various factors such as taking long showers, leakage through drippy faucets, phantom flushes, plumbing issues, over watering your garden and more.
It might not be easy to constantly check for these issues but you can slowly reduce the water wastage significantly by checking once in a while. Remember, every drop saved is worth it because it adds up when everyone is doing the same. To fully understand the entire scope of water wastage and the various ways to reduce it as much as possible, we need to go a little deep into the subject.
How is water wasted at home?
There are many ways through which we waste water every single day. Some may waste very less water like half a gallon per day whereas others can lead to over 300 gallons of wastage per day. It’s different from one household to another as not everyone may have faulty pipes or faucets in their home. Some of the most common ways in which people waste water are when watering their garden, leaving a tap running when they don’t need to and only doing partial laundry loads.
All of the above wastes a ton of water even if you may not realize it at that time. This is because, once your behavior is set, you end up doing the same over and over again. This results in hundreds of gallons of water being wasted every day. This also increases your water bill significantly. Once you change your behavior and conserve your water usage, you might be shocked at how much money you will be able to save every year. For some, it can go as high as a thousand dollars extra savings per year.
Then you have leakages that are sometimes difficult to detect, especially if it’s small. You might go for months without noticing it because it might be in a place that is hidden from your sight such as under the sink. Even if the leakage is small, all those wasted drops will add up to a lot of water because they get ignored. If one drop of water gets wasted every second, then per day 86,400 drops of water are being wasted which amounts to 1.15 gallons. So in a month, you are wasting 30 plus gallons without even knowing it. (Recommended article: “How Much Does the Average Water Bill Cost in the USA?“)
List of how people waste water from top to bottom
Here are some of the different ways through which water gets wasted every day.
- Improper using of your toilet – A lot of people use their toilets like a trashcan where they flush various objects like dental flosses, feminine products and more. Each time you flush, you are using up to seven gallons of water. So if you throw various objects in the toilet multiple times a day, then you are wasting a ton of water for no reason. This also leads to blockages in the pipes which will also cost you money over time.
- Taking long showers – Most people aren’t aware of how much water gets wasted every time you take a long shower. The average person wastes up to 17.2 gallons per day in 8 minutes or so which is very worrying. Instead, turn the shower off when you apply soap or shampoo and only turn it on when you need water. This saves a lot of water in the long run.
- Wrong showerheads – Some showerheads waste a lot more water than other ones. While you may feel that high-flow showerheads are better, they aren’t as efficient as you might think. Though the amount of water that comes out of it is more, you will end up wasting up to 2 gallons of water per minute. A better option would be to use a low-flow showerhead instead.
- Improper laundry loads – Many people only put half loads in the machine but use more water than required. This leads to a lot of water wastage, not to mention you end up doing laundry more times than required. A more efficient way would be to wait for a few more days until you have a full load and then wash your clothes together.
- Running water in the sink – This is something that a lot of people do in their kitchens. While washing dishes, they keep the tap running even if they aren’t using the water. A wiser option would be to fill the sink with soap and water and soak the dishes for some time before washing them.
- Overwatering your garden/lawn – While watering your garden, it is a little difficult to notice how much water is being wasted. After all, the water is going into the ground right? So are you wasting water? Yes, you are. If you are watering in the summer (which is when you need to water the garden/lawn more frequently), then it would be more efficient to do it from 5 AM to 10 AM because the air will be cooler and the plants will be able to retain the water for a longer time.
- Leaks – Small leaks are difficult to spot especially if the water is dripping very slowly. It might only be a few drops but over time it would lead to a ton of wastage because most people keep on ignoring it. I know situations where water liquid for years in crawlspace before it was noticed. So if you find any leaks, make sure you get them fixed as soon as possible. It will also be a good idea to periodically check for leaks in hard-to-notice areas such as under the sink or the water supply pipe next to your toilet.
- Old toilets – Old conventional toilets use around two to six gallons per flush which is a significantly high amount of water especially since new ones use only 1.6 gallons. So if your toilet was installed a decade ago, you might want to consider replacing it with a newer model that is more efficient when it comes to water usage.
All of the above contributes to a lot of water wastage every day which is not only bad for all of us as a species but also leads to waste of money. By conserving water and using it only when required, you can save up to a hundred dollars per month or more. In some households, phantom flushes themselves increase the water bill by $80. So if you are a bit more careful with the way you use water, you can save a ton of money in the long run.
How can we avoid waste water?
Here are some of the ways how you can minimize water wastage:
- Proper use of shower – Turn off the shower when using soap or shampoo so that you don’t waste water unnecessarily. While taking baths, around 35 to 50 gallons of water usually gets used whereas a shower only requires around 25 gallons. If you have a low-flow showerhead and turn on the water only when you need it, you can cut down on the water wastage.
- Using a dish washer – If you have a dishwasher, use that instead of doing it by hand as you can control the amount of water being used. If you don’t have one, then make sure you turn off the tap when you don’t need water.
- Periodically check for leaks – Once a month, you can check for leaks in your house to ensure that you aren’t wasting water accidentally. Check the hard-to-notice areas like under the sink or near the toilet as these areas usually get ignored.
- Always run full laundry loads – Never run partial loads as it not only wastes water but also increases your water and power bill. A better and more efficient way would be to wait until you can run a full load so that you don’t have to wash your clothes frequently.
- Water your garden in the morning – During summer, it gets hot after 10 AM and so the heat will evaporate any water on the ground. So rather than pouring extra water in the afternoon or evening, you can just water your garden or lawn in the early morning.
- Don’t waste ice – Many people throw away any leftover ice to refill the entire tray. When you do this often, the amount of wasted water increases drastically. Instead, wait till you use up all the ice before refilling and refrain from throwing the remaining ones.
- Install new fixtures – If you have very old water fixtures such as faucets and showerheads, then you may want to replace them with new ones. Old models waste a lot more water than new ones. If you replace all your old ones with new low flow ones, you can end up saving 25000 gallons of water every year (household of four people).
- Use a rain barrel – Buying and using a rain barrel is a great way to harvest rainwater and you can also use it for watering your garden, plants, or your lawn. Depending on the amount of rainfall you get in your place, it can help you to save a lot of water in the long run.
What uses more water, a bath or a shower?
On average, a person uses around 35 to 50 gallons when taking a bath but only uses up to 25 gallons of water when taking a shower. Do keep in mind that if you shower and keep the water running for a long time, it may exceed 25 gallons. However, to waste the same amount of water as a bath when showering is quite rare as most people don’t spend that much time when showering. At the end of the day, taking a shower allows you to have more control over the amount of water you use than taking a bath.
What wastes more water, using a dishwasher or washing by hand?
On the whole, a dishwasher uses significantly less water than if you washed the dishes by hand. If you have an energy-star rated dishwasher, it will use only up to 3 gallons of water whereas by hand you might end up using over 27 gallons of water. So even though you may feel that you have more control over using water when washing by hand, you will end up wasting almost 9 times more water. So if you have a high-energy star-rated dishwasher, you can save up to 5000 gallons of water per year. Do keep in mind that dishwashers that were built before 1994 use more than 10 gallons. So if you have an old one, you might want to consider replacing it with a new one.
Which country uses more water?
As per statistics, the country that uses the most water in the world is China at a staggering 360 trillion gallons per year. Beijing, which is the country’s capital, uses about 45,700 gallons per year but the consumption has reduced over the years. The US uses about 215 billion gallons of water per year. However, several states like Texas and California spend water mostly for irrigation as these areas are frequently plagued by droughts.
How much water is used in a 5-minute shower?
It depends on the type of showerhead you use. With a standard showerhead, you will use up around 12.5 to 25 gallons in 5 minutes. However, if you use a low-flow showerhead, then the consumption of water cuts down to about 10 to 15 gallons. While this might not feel like a huge difference, it gets amplified when you have more than two people at home. So a household of four people can save around 32 to 40 gallons of water for a 5-minute shower every day if they go for a low-flow showerhead.
Is it cheaper to take a bath or shower?
It is cheaper to take shower and by a significant margin. A filled-up bathtub will contain about 70 gallons of water whereas taking a 5-minute shower only consumes around 12.5 to 25 gallons. Granted, most people don’t fill up their bathtubs to the brim but the difference is still quite large. To compare, if one were to waste the same amount of water while showering, one would have to shower for up to 20 minutes. Moreover, if every household in the US installs low-flow showerheads, the country would save up to $1.5 billion on water bills.
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