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.
20 thoughts on “Get Out of the F*@#ing Shower”
Interesting perspective DD. Clean water is such a precious resource we take for granted here in the US. I am concious of what we use, but don’t obsess over it. Our village charges us for every drop. There is a charge for usage. And then they assume every drop used goes into the sewer and there is volume charge for that too. At our current house versus where we lived 2 years ago, the water bill is 5 times higher while usage is about the same. Ouch. Tom
You’re absolutely right that so many of us do take clean water for granted, but there are very serious issues both near and afar. Here in the US I feel there is a tendency to think that a water crisis is something that would never impact our lives, but as we are seeing in Flint that is definitely not the case.
Your village sounds exactly like ours, as we also have a volume charge for the water that we use as well as a volume-based sewer charge. In addition to the village charges, we also have a charge for water reclamation that is paid to a separate company for the treatment of waste water which is also based on the volume of water that we have used.
Makes me wonder if fitness plays a part. My wife and I run at 5:30 AM and play tennis at other hours but also have to attend business or volunteer meetings throughout the day. We might bathe or shower sometimes three times a day each, and frankly could care less how much water that uses. I’m sure sedentary people conserve H2O, but at what cost to their health?
That’s an interesting point; I know for us, my wife has always been an early morning workout person so she showers after her workout and then heads off to work. As I am used to being up at 4:30am to go to work, I became an evening workout person and usually just go to bed afterwards and shower in the morning.
Now that I work from home, I do find that I workout more in the morning but usually do so before my shower. It is interesting to think about though in how the level of activity could influence this, and I agree with you that being sedentary has much higher risk (cost and otherwise) than how much water is being used.
Funny you should mention this. I was just talking to my wife the other day how our water bill, for the last 8 years, has been the same every month – within a few dollars. We pay roughly $62 a month for water… every month. We have called the water authority to come out to fix our water meter… but they don’t seem to care. Apparently, i’m stuck paying the average Georgia water bill. Guess it could be worse 😉
Ha, I’ve noticed that ours is somewhat consistent as well. The last three bills of 2018 were all exactly the same amount of water usage–which seems unlikely to me yet they claim they each had actual meter reads as opposed to estimates.
Our bill is a little higher than yours, as with the water use, sewer maintenance, and reclamation charges we pay about $70-80 every month (billed bi-monthly).
Can’t say I notice any excessive showering in our household, but I do see the water bill every couple months and wonder how I can potentially lower it.
We went to a water-conscious landscape to replace our lawn in the front yard, and it’s amazing how much water it took to keep the old landscape green.
Watering the lawn can really cause that bill to skyrocket. We gave up on watering our lawn years ago, but as we regularly fertilize and take good care of the yard we usually have a great looking lawn.
This year I am focusing on lowering our electric bill as I feel that one is a little more controllable without getting too extreme.
haha growing up one of my good friends parents house had that yellow let it mellow thing. Man i always hated that. Especially if it was really mellow and you had to break the layer…. ewwww lol!
nice that you guys average half of what the average american uses.
Water here is sooo cheap, think we pay 16 bucks a month. (We are septic though, so no sewer fees)
My grandparents did the mellow yellow thing and they would always reprimand us kids when we would forget and flush. Breaking the layer, haha!
Dang, $16 a month sounds great! I’m not sure what people around us that are more out in the country and have septic pay, but the sewer fees for us amount to about $10-15 per month out of the average $70-80 for water related charges.
Very interesting and funny to read! I can see this coming in the future with our own kid. 😀
But it’s a very good idea! I’ll check our water bill when it’s available and will compare it with the average. I can already see some small improvements in our household.
Thanks DR! As a kid, I remember my parents hounding my sister and I about it while we would roll our eyes. Now as a parent I do the same thing they did, and our kids respond much like I used to.
It is interesting to monitor your usage, as often times we think of our electricity or natural gas as utilities to conserve for savings but water often goes ignored.
Thanks for tackling this issue with your own personal example compared to common statistics. I always like that style of writing. As for me, I was intrigued by this topic because I’m trying to figure out the true cost of using cloth diapers over disposable diapers (for the environment and for our bills). It seems like it’s a “choose your evil” situation. We have an outrageous water bill lately ($560 a year). I blame the washing machine. I’m looking for clues on how to do better. Thanks for some ideas!
Thank you for stopping by and for the feedback Savvy History! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the style of writing. Fortunately the days of diapers are in my rear view mirror (at least until I become a grandpa) but that is a tough decision. Hopefully one of the ideas helps knock that water bill down a little bit!
I feel fortunate. Here in rural northern Maine, we typically have good water from our own well so we have no expense other than some for water softening salt (about $3.50/ month) plus minimal electricity to run the system. We have our own septic system that will need periodic pumping (perhaps about $400 every 5 years or so). In nearby towns, people are often tied to monthly charges for water and sewer. For a few years I was on “city” water and hated the continuous bills. To rural life!
Yeah, that is nice and I recall my grandparents always lived in a more rural area where they had their own well water and septic. They did have a “mellow yellow” policy as they felt it extended the time until they had to pump the septic. As we near retirement and look to relocate, our desire is to be more rural so we may join you one of these days in those cost savings!
Our water bill gets bunched in with garbage/recycling in our area. Makes it a little trickier for tracking purposes. I am really amazed how much water just our family of four uses in a short period of time however. Really adds up!
We have two separate charges for water, one of which is also lumped into our garbage and recycling bill, so I feel like they hit us coming and going (literally). For the longest time our kids thought that water was free, and oh how I wish they were right.
North of Seattle, we’re paying over $150/mo. in water and sewage.
Yikes, I thought ours was high with an average of about $75-90/month across the water, sewage, and recycling bills.