You Use More Water Than You Think: Tips for Conservation

- According to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the population of Texas is expected to double by 2060, but the water supply is expected to decrease by 20 percent. 

Quite a bit of water is wasted every year in the summer, mostly through outdoor watering, but there are things you can do to help conserve water, while still maintaining a beautiful lawn. 

According to the TWDB, only one inch of water a week is needed to keep most Texas grasses healthy, so timing your sprinklers to deliver just the right amount will save both water and your landscaping. 

You can determine how long your sprinklers need to be on to deliver an inch of water by placing straight-edged cans at different distances from your sprinklers, then measuring how long it takes to get an inch of water in each can. 

Other tips to conserve water in the summer months are:

Avoid losing water to evaporation by watering in the early morning or late evening
  • Install rain shut-off devices
  • Check Sprinkler heads regularly
  • Plant water-efficient or native plants
  • Never water on windy days
  • Buy a rain barrel or cistern
While outside watering uses the majority of water, inside water use can cost millions of gallons of water per year. TheUnited States Geological Survey (USGS) averages that a single person uses about 80 to 100 gallons per day, while theUnited States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that a family of four can use around 400 gallons daily—mostly just from flushing the toilet. 

According to the USGS, water use in the home derives mainly from the following activities:


A full tub is about 36 gallons.


2 gallons per minute. Old shower heads use as much as 5 gallons per minute.

Teeth brushing

<1 gallon, especially if water is turned off while brushing. Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.

Hands/face washing

1 gallon

Face/leg shaving

1 gallon


4 to 10 gallons/load, depending of efficiency of dishwasher

Dishwashing by hand:

20 gallons. Newer kitchen faucets use about 2.2 gallons per minutes, whereas older faucets use more.

Clothes washer

25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models use about 40 gallons per load.

Toilet flush

3 gallons. Most all new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, but many older toilets used about 4 gallons.

Glasses of water drunk

8 oz. per glass (did you remember to drink your 8 glasses of water today?)

Outdoor watering

5 to 10 gallons per minute

However, there are things the average person can do to conserve water in the home. The following list is from the TWDB: 


  • Replace your showerhead with a water-efficient model.
  • Get in the shower as soon as the water becomes warm enough.
  • Take short showers.
  • Take a shower instead of a bath. A shower with a water-efficient showerhead often uses less water than a bath.
  • Reduce the level of water used in a bathtub by 1 or 2 inches if a shower is not available.
  • Turn off the water while you are shaving. Fill the sink with hot water instead of letting the water run continuously.
  • Replace your old toilet with a high-efficiency toilet that uses 1.3 gallons per flush.
  • Test toilets for leaks. Once in awhile, take the top off of your toilet tank and watch it flush. Do you notice any leaks? Yes? Replace the flapper or rubber washer. Don’t forget about those less obvious leaks. Add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet to the water in the tank, but do not flush the toilet. If the coloring appears in the bowl within a few minutes, the toilet has a leak that needs to be repaired.
  • Never use the toilet to dispose of trash.
  • Don’t waste water when brushing your teeth or washing your hands. Shut off the water until it’s time to rinse.



  • Run the dishwasher only when full. This practice will save water, energy, detergent, and money. If your dishes are not very dirty, use the short wash cycle. You can spend less money on water and
  • energy by installing a high-efficiency dishwasher.
  • Install faucet aerators. You’ll never notice
  • the difference, and you’ll cut your sink water consumption in half ! Also, don’t ignore leaky faucets; they waste lots of water.
  • Keep a container of water in the refrigerator. It will be refreshingly cool and won’t waste water.
  • Dry scrape dishes instead of rinsing. Your dishwasher will take care of the rest.
  • Use garbage disposals sparingly. They can waste water unnecessarily.
  • Soak pans rather than scrubbing them while the water is running.
  • Rinse your vegetables in a pan of cold water; it doesn’t take gallons of water to get the dirt off.


Laundry room

  • Conventional washing machines use 32 to 59 gallons of water per load.
  • Wash only full loads.
  • Use the lowest water level setting on the washing machine for light or partial loads whenever possible.
  • Use cold water as often as possible to save energy and conserve hot water for uses that cold water cannot serve.


Additional tips

  • Don’t ignore leaky faucets; they are usually easy and inexpensive to repair. Turn off the valve under the sink until you get around to repairing the leak.
  • A slow drip can waste as much as 170 gallons of water each day and will add to the water bill.
  • Know where your master water shut-off valve is in case a pipe bursts. Insulate hot water pipes. You won’t waste water waiting for it to get hot, and you will save energy too.
  • Install water-softening systems only when
  • necessary, and if you have one, save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness.
  • Replace water-to-air heat pumps and air conditioners with air-to-air if you are purchasing new units. They are just as efficient and do not waste water.
  • Find other uses for water rather than letting it go down the drain, such as watering house plants with fish tank water.



Additional Information:

TWDB Water Saving Tips
A Watering Guide for Texas Landscapes
EPA: Water Sense
USGS: Water Questions and Answers

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