Water Saving Tips: Residential Water Use

Water Saving Tips: Residential Water Use

-by The Alliance for Water Efficiency


Replace inefficient toilets with WaterSense-labeled models.

  • Replacing an older toilet that uses 3.5 gallons (13.2 liters) per flush (gpf) with a high-efficiency toilet that uses 1.28 gpf (4.85 liters) will save about 2.22 gpf (8.4 Lpf). The EPA WaterSense® program labels efficient toilets that use a maximum 1.28 gpf; some WaterSense-labeled toilets flush at 1.0 gallon and less.
  • If the toilet is flushed an average of six times each day it will save about 13 gallons per day or 4,745 gallons per year.  Some older toilets use as much as 7 gallons per flush.
  • For more information and resources, visit the Toilets page in the Resource Library.

Check toilets to verify they are working properly.

  • Make sure the water level is not too high, the fill valve is working properly, and the flapper is not leaking. A running toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day.


When it's time to replace the clothes washer, choose a high-efficiency washer with a low water factor.

  • The smaller the water factor the more efficient the clothes washer.
  • ENERGY STAR® models currently have a maximum of 6.0, although many well-performing machines are available with lower water factors. Look for the lowest water factor available to achieve the highest water savings.

When doing laundry, always wash full loads.

  • Conventional washers built before 2011 typically use about 40 gallons per load; resource-efficient washers may use as little as 15 gallons per load.
  • Adjust the water level in the washer to the amount needed for the load. Some of the new efficient washers will do this automatically.


Install efficient faucets and/or faucet aerators.

  • The U.S. EPA’s WaterSense® program labels efficient faucets and aerators that use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute.
  • Look for the WaterSense label when selecting new faucets or aerators.

Find and fix any leaky faucets.

  • A faucet leaking 60 drops per minute will waste about 200 gallons (750 liters) per month. That is equal to 2,400 gallons (9.0 cubic meters) per year.

Find and fix any leaky faucets.

When lathering hands, shaving, or brushing teeth.


Replace showerheads that have a flow rate greater than 2.5 gallons per minute--the current National Energy Policy Act standard.

  • If the showerhead is not labeled, the flow rate can be checked by catching the water in a 1-gallon bucket. If it takes less than 24 seconds to fill up, the showerhead flow rate is more than 2.5 gallons per minute. The EPA WaterSense program labels efficient showerheads that use a maximum 2.0 gallons per minute.

Take shorter showers.

  • Reducing a 10-minute shower to 5 minutes saves 12.5 gallons of water if the showerhead has a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute–even more if the showerhead has a higher flow rate.

Install a thermostatic shut-off valve, either integrated into a showerhead, or as an add-on positioned between the showerhead and shower arm.

  • The valve automatically reduces the showerhead’s flow to a trickle once water temperature reaches approximately 95° F (35° C), reducing water waste during the users warmup routine (known as ‘behavioral waste’).
  • If installing a valve isn’t an option, and it takes a long time for the hot water to reach the shower, use it as an opportunity to collect water for other uses, e.g. watering houseplants.


Install an efficient dishwasher.

  • Technological advances in dishwashers make it possible to use less water to achieve the same goal. A new dishwasher that uses less water per cycle will reduce household water use.
    • Dishwashers use less water than handwashing, particularly if you limit pre-rinsing.
  • For examples of dishwasher models and their water use: See ENERGY STAR® Qualifying Residential Dishwasher List

Only wash full loads of dishes in the dishwasher.

If washing dishes by hand, fill the sink with water rather than continually running the tap.

Avoid using running water to thaw frozen foods.

  • Instead, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

Composting food waste saves water.

  • It reduces the water needed to run a garbage disposal.


Check water bills for any instances of high water use--this may be an indication of a leak.

  • Leaking faucets, leaking toilets, and leaking pipes all have something in common, they waste a lot of water! Your water bill will often show abnormal water consumption if there is a leak. Many water utilities have information on how to read your water bill online.


Landscape with water-wise landscaping principles.

  • Use native plants or other plants that require little water to thrive in your region.
  • Plant turf grass only in areas where people will use it actively for recreation.
  • Organize your landscape into hydrozones. Hydrozones are areas of landscape with plants and vegetation that have similar water requirements. This prevents over-watering some plants and under-watering others.
  • Keep soil healthy and add mulch to prevent water loss through evaporation.
  • If watering with a hose, make sure it has a shut-off nozzle.
  • Water in the morning to prevent water loss due to evaporation. Avoid watering when it is windy.
  • Use a rain barrel to collect water for use in the landscape.
  • Add a graywater system to collect water from your washing machine or shower and bath, and use it in the landscape.

If a sprinkler system is used, make sure it is properly set-up and maintained.

  • Irrigate hydrozones based upon the plants’ water needs.
  • Install a weather-based SMART irrigation controller. It is essential that SMART controllers are properly programmed and maintained.
  • Install and maintain a rain sensor, either wireless or wired, on the irrigation controller if it does not have one built-in.
  • Regularly inspect the sprinkler heads to make sure they are not damaged or malfunctioning.
  • Adjust sprinklers so they are not spraying water on paved surfaces such as the sidewalk or driveway.


Sweep outdoor surfaces with a broom instead of using a hose.

Wash vehicles at a carwash that recycles its water.

  • If washing at home, make sure the hose has a shut-off nozzle.

Wash vehicles at a carwash that recycles its water.

  • A pool cover also saves energy and reduces the need for chemicals.

Woodlands Water Weekly

Lawn watering guide, landscaping tips, water-wise resources, and more.

Facebook Feed