Household Water Conservation Tips


The average American family can use over 300 gallons per day. Roughly 70% of this household usage is indoor-related (EPA, 2016). 


Toilet: Toilets can account for almost 27% of total household water usage. Older toilets use between 3.5-7 gallons of water per flush. Recent advancements have allowed toilets use 1.28 to 1.6 gallons of water per flush, reducing this usage by about 60% or 13,000 gallons of water for the average household. These water savings can lead to over $100 per year savings in water costs. 

-A leaky toilet can waste roughly 200 gallons of water every day. Checking for leaks can save you lots of water and money on your water bill! To check for leaks in your toilet, place a drop of food coloring in the tank and wait 10 minutes. If the dye shows up in the toilet bowl once the time is up, then you have a leak most likely fixable by replacing the toilet flapper. For more information on leaks, check out the EPA WaterSense site

Showerheads: Showering is one of the top ways in which we use water indoors, accounting for almost 17% of usage or nearly 40 gallons per day for the average family. Switching to WaterSense labeled showerheads, which use 2 gallons per minute (gpm), could save the average family 2,900 gallons of water per year. 

-Take shorter showers! Timing your shower to 5 minutes or less could save you up to 1,000 gallons of water per month. 

Faucets: Standard flow of faucets is 2.2 gpm. By installing a WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucet that uses 1.5 gpm, you can reduce usage by 30% or more. 

-Install an aerator on your existing faucet to reduce flow. 

-Turn off the water while you brush your teeth can save you as much as 3,000 gallons of water per year! 


Dishwashers: If purchasing a new dishwasher, consult the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) website. Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand. 

-Only run the dishwasher when it is full. 

-If washing dishes by hand, do not leave the water running. 

-Do not run water to thaw food. Use the refrigerator for defrosting or thawing purposes. 

-Collect the water used to rinse fruits and vegetables and use to water household plants. 

-Drink tap water instead of bottled water. 

Laundry Room 

Washing Machine: Washing laundry accounts for about 15-40% of your indoor household water consumption for the average household of four persons. A typical four person household washes an average 300 loads per year, equating about 12,000 gallons of water annually. High-efficiency washers reduce this water usage by more than 6,000 gallons of water annually (Alliance for Water Efficiency, 2016). When purchasing a high efficiency washing machine, consult the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) website

-Only run washing machine for full loads of laundry. 

-Match the size of laundry to water level. 

-Wash dark colored clothes in cold water. 

Outdoor: Across the nation, outdoor water usage accounts for roughly 30% of household usage, but can be significantly higher in drier parts of the country and water-intensive landscapes (EPA, 2017). In drier regions or water-intensive landscapes, outdoor water usage can be attributed to 50% or more of household usage. 


-Inspect your automatic irrigation systems regularly for clogged, broken, or missing sprinklers heads. 

-Check your system regularly for leaks, especially in areas where heads connect to pipes or hoses. 

-Make sure that your sprinkler heads deliver water in head to head coverage; meaning that one sprinkler head spray water to reach the other sprinkler head, to ensure proper and even coverage. 

-Direct your sprinklers to only water landscape plants, not hard surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, or your house. 

-Learn how to schedule your irrigation timer! An improperly scheduled timer can waste money and water. Update your timer to reflect the seasons or invest in a WaterSense labeled weather-based controller

-Grass and landscape plants require different watering needs, therefore should be on separate irrigation zones. This will reduce water waste as the zones will receive the amount of water they require based on plant type. 

-When watering during irrigation season (April 1-October 31), avoid watering during 10 am-6 pm as water is easily lost here due to evaporation from hot temperatures and wind. 

-Use the cycle and soak method for watering your landscape. Cycle and soak is a method of irrigation in which water is applied slowly so that the soil absorbs the water deeply, reducing runoff. To accomplish this, take the total amount of irrigation time and divide by three. You would program your controller to irrigate three different cycles with time in between for the water to soak in. For example, instead of watering for 15 minutes all at once, you water for 5 minutes on three separate cycles with about 30 minutes between each cycle. 

-If hand watering, make sure that your hose has an automatic shutoff nozzle to control the flow of water. 


Creating and maintaining a healthy, water-wise landscape does not have to take a lot of time, energy, and money. Xeriscape, derived from the Greek word “xeros” meaning dry, is the planning and development of a healthy, attractive landscape that uses little additional water than what is already provided by the natural environment. Check out the 7 xeriscape principles below to reduce water in your landscape! 

1. Planning a Design 

2. Soil Analysis 

3. Appropriate Plant Selection 

4. Turf Planning 

5. Efficient Irrigation 

6. Mulching 

7. Maintenance 

For more information about Xeriscape, check out this fact sheet from Colorado State University Extension

Rainwater Harvesting 

Under House Bill 16-1005, rain barrels can only be installed at single-family households and multi-family households with 4 or fewer units. A maximum of 2 rain barrels can be used at each household and the combined storage of the 2 rain barrels cannot exceed 110 gallons. 

Rainwater should only be used to irrigate landscapes, and untreated rainwater collected from roofs is not safe to drink. Any type of container may be used to capture rainwater, but must include a sealable lid per Colorado water law. Typically, collection systems are simply, containing gutters, downspouts, and a storage container. Inexpensive rainwater collection systems include a plastic barrel or storage tank with a sealable lid that captures the rainwater from the roof through the gutters and downspout. Rain barrels have a spigot at the bottom to access collected rainwater, and may also include an overflow pipe to flush excess water. 

For additional information about rainwater harvesting in Colorado, check out this fact sheet from Colorado State University Extension

The City of Brighton is a proud EPA WaterSense Partner.