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Understanding Water Usage and Water Saving Tips

Clean water comes into the property through the water meter often at the curb of the property. The property owner is responsible for any water usage and leaks that are between the water meter and the property. Water leaves your property through various plumbing fixtures in the property and is dispersed back to the sewer system, where it is treated and a cost is occurred.

Diagram of a residential water system

Daily Water Usage

Do you know how much water you use every day? Before you can start saving water, you have to know how much you're using to do common, everyday activities. Every person uses approximately 80 to 100 gallons of water each day. Here's some examples of water use:



Toilet per flush




Shower–10 minutes




Hand Wash Dishes


Washing Machine


Faucet–5 minutes


Outdoor watering by hand–5 minutes


Outdoor watering by sprinkler–1 hour


*Gallons depends on the efficiency and flow. Figures are using averages.

Stop The Drip

Illustration of a toilet with an arrow pointing to the stop valve

A drop of water may not break your home budget, but pile them up one after another and you have a serious leak—in your pipes and in your pocket. An average of 14 percent of residential water is lost through leaking fixtures or pipes.

A hot water leak wastes not only water but the energy used to heat it. In this case, you're losing money three ways—your water bill, the sewer service charge on your property tax bill, and your electric bill.

Toilet leaks are some of the worst. A leaky or running toilet can waste approximately 200 gallons of water every day and over 6,000 gallons a month. If you can't hear the water running, test your toilet by adding a couple of drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. If it shows up in the bowl, your toilet has a leak. With a leaking faucet or toilet, you're just pouring money down the drain. Repair it.

Prior to repairing the leak, you can turn off the stop valve on your toilet by turning the valve counterclockwise to shut off the water supply.

Saving Water in the Bathroom

  • If you remodel your bathroom, install low water use (1.6 gallon per flush) toilets.
  • Place a weighted plastic jug (size—one-half gallon) or a toilet dam in the tanks of conventional toilets to displace and save water with each flush.
  • Install low-flow aerators and showerheads. They're cheap, easy to install, save water and save energy.
  • Don't run the faucet when you're brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • If your shower has a single-handle control or shutoff valve, turn off the water when you're soaping up or shampooing your hair.
  • Replace leaking diverter valves (valves which divert water from the tub spout to the showerhead).

Saving Water in the Kitchen and Laundry

  • Don't run your water for a cold drink; keep a container of water in the refrigerator.
  • Stop up the sink for washing and rinsing dishes. Put a low-flow aerator on all faucets.
  • Don't rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Run the washing machine and dishwasher when they are fully loaded.
  • Use the right water level or load size on the washing machine.
  • When you buy a washing machine or dishwasher, think about water use and energy efficiency. Most manufacturers now give this information to consumers.

Pipe Leaks

Pipe leaks, although less annoying or obvious, are much more serious and expensive than leaking faucets. On average, a pipe leak the size of the tip of a pencil will waste approximately 970 gallons in 24 hours at even low water pressure (this calculation is made using 40 psi in water pressure).

You may not even notice a pipe leak if it's located underground or in a space you can't see. Make sure you keep an eye out for the following:

  • A musty smell under sinks in cabinets (often an indication of a cracked hose, a small pipe leak, or a leak at the junction of a hose and pipe)
  • Water in your yard or running down the street from near your yard
  • High water bills
  • Water stains in walls or ceilings

Water stains in ceilings are sometimes pipe leaks and sometimes problems with either the roof or the air conditioning unit (if it's in your attic). You may need to go up into the attic and use a flashlight to check around your air conditioning unit, around your water heater, and around vents in the roof around fans and vents. If you've recently had your roof replaced or recently experienced high winds that could have affected your roof, it may be a problem with the flashing around vents and not a pipe leak at all.

Find additional information and water saving tips from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Revised July 7, 2022         


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