The Facts about Household Water Usage

Average household water usage statistics.

A few years ago my son came home from school to a note on our door that read something like “Had to turn water off due to pipe leak. Will get water back on soon.” – That’s it. My son called me at work about the note and said there wasn’t any water coming from the sinks. I told him to not flush the toilet until I got home.

Once I arrived home I read the note myself and tried all the faucets. No water.

We hoped the water would be turned back on at least in a couple days, but that didn’t happen. In fact it was more like 7 weeks without running water! That meant no showers, no flushing toilets, no washing dishes, no washing hands or any other kind of washing including clothes.

We didn’t have any other place to stay or to go for that matter. So, I gathered up every bucket and container that I could possibly fill and asked my other neighbor if I could fill up using their outdoor hose. That got us through 1 day. The next day a friend gave us a 5 gallon container, which we filled up and used for washing hands, dishes and cooking along with the other buckets.  Then I bought a five gallon container, so we could fill up about 12-14 gallons of water every day.

This is what I learned about our daily consumption of water…

  • Each toilet consumed about 3 – 5 gallons of water for every flush. That’s a lot of water! Our house had 2 bathrooms, but we only flushed one toilet once a day as needed.
  • I could wash a sink full of dishes including pots and pans using only 1 gallon of water. It’s not about how much water you use, it’s about how well you scrub.
  • Baby wipes and hand sanitizer work just as well as soap and water. This is how our troops keep clean too.
  • I could take a bath using only 3 gallons of water – heated first on the stove of course.

I don’t know how much water my stackable washer used, but I’m sure it was way too much. I had to do laundry at the laundromat or at a friend’s house, which was both inconvenient and sometimes expensive.

After several weeks of divvying up water for various needs, we were finally blessed to have the well replaced, new lines put in and increased water pressure restored. Although I still kept one of the 5 gallon containers on hand just in case.

There’s a new meter on the market which measures your water consumption and let’s you know when you’ve used too much. The Koolhaus faucet let’s you know not only how much water you have consumed from the faucet, but also from the entire bathroom. I’m afraid of what it will say about my son who takes 2 mini showers a day to my 1 every other day.

How much water does your family use at home on a daily basis? Take this quiz to find out from the USGS site. I was shocked to find that our 2 person family consumes much more than I thought! Yikes!