As a father, there was apparently a point in time where I began to associate the amount of water being used when either of our boys takes a shower with the image of a raging waterfall.
Hundreds of thousands of gallons pouring down the drain.
Okay, that is surely an exaggeration, but usually at about the 10 to 15-minute mark they get a knock on the door to wrap things up from DivvyMom or me.
The knocks get louder if they are still in there at the 20-minute mark, and then the threats of turning off the water main come after that.
But, how much water are we really using?
Average Water Usage
According to the United States Geological Survey, the average person uses approximately 80-100 gallons of water per day.
Despite the feeling that DivvySon1 and DivvySon2 are draining the earth of the entire water supply every time they take a shower, on average that is actually the 2nd highest consumption of water behind the toilet. That makes sense considering that most people only take one shower per day but use the toilet multiple times.
The diagram here showing the highest sources of water usage does not account for dishwashers, unless they have accounted for that under faucet or other.
Be sure to pay special attention to the Leak category as that can certainly increase your water usage without knowing it.
Those leaky faucets and constantly running toilets are costing you money.
DivvyFamily Water Usage
After seeing a tweet from HisHerMoneyGuide about their water bill, I started to wonder just how much we were using in the DivvyFamily household.
Certainly it must be higher than the average consumption of 80-100 gallons per person per day based on shower duration alone.
As luck would have it, we had just received our latest water bill so I took a look. Our bills are always reported in two month increments and from the period of November 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 we used 1,400 cubic feet of water.
Doing a few calculations, I see that we used 10,472.73 gallons of water over the 61 day period.
That is 171.68 gallons per day–for our entire family.
With four of us in the house, that is an average of 42.92 gallons per person per day.
Based on this recent bill, we are using approximately half the volume of water that the average American uses on a daily basis.
Thinking that maybe the last billing period was an outlier, I pulled up all of our bills from 2018 to calculate on an annual basis as I was sure that we were using far more water than that on a daily basis.
As you can see above, we used more water in the early part of 2018 but were still well below the average usage as estimated by the United States Geological Survey.
Our usage then dropped down below 50 gallons per person per day beginning in May and stayed there the remainder of the year.
The only noticeable change around that time was that I began to work from home on a full-time basis. Therefore, while I previously noted the financial benefits of working from home, I had not included a decline in water usage among those cost savings.
Off the cuff, I would imagine that savings is largely due to a reduction in laundry as now I am able to have a completely casual dress code and don’t have the same volume of clothes to wash on a weekly basis. As long as you’re willing to keep a secret, I will also admit that there are days where a shower may get skipped too.
For the year as a whole, we averaged 48.67 gallons of water per person per day.
Reducing Water Usage
After calculating our average water usage, I feel a little guilty that DivvyMom and I are always hounding our boys to cut their showers shorter or awaiting the day that they have to pay their own water bill.
While I certainly think that my change to be working from home has reduced our water consumption a bit, I believe that we have benefited more from the fact that all three of our toilets are now low-flow / low-flush models and the oldest of the three, that also had a tendency to run on occasion, was replaced last year.
We recently had an energy audit performed by our electric utility, and as part of that service they also provided and installed WaterSense shower heads and faucet aerators in our bathrooms for free.
Hopefully that should further reduce our water usage moving forward.
In the event that you review your own water usage and find that you are in or above the average ranges, I would highly recommend that you investigate and potentially install low-flow toilets, WaterSense shower heads, and efficient water faucets.
Maybe it comes with old age, or just being a parent, but it always feels like our kids are in the shower forever and directly responsible for our water bill being “so outrageous” every two months.
However, by digging into the numbers, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we are actually using far less water than the average American on a daily basis. While I would like to say that was a direct result of conscious choices that we have made, it is not.
There is no “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” going on in our house.
Now that I have calculated out our average usage, I will be interested to see what kind of impact the WaterSense shower heads and faucet aerators have. In addition, later this year our youngest will be heading off to college so that will drop the number of people in the house thereby reducing the total volume of water used (but not necessarily the average).
Speaking of which, I need to go tell him to get out of the f*@#ing shower! 😉
Let me know if you have ever calculated your water usage and how you stack up to the national average.