Water Saving - Home
Using water at home—to shower, do laundry, soak plants—consumes energy. It takes energy to clean and transport water, to heat it if need be, and to handle wastewater after use. Hot water is responsible for a quarter of residential energy use worldwide. Efficiency can be improved household-by-household and tap-by-tap.
In the United States, 60 percent of home water use occurs indoors, primarily for toilets, clothes washers, showers, and faucets. Low-flush toilets and efficient washing machines can reduce water use by 19 and 17 percent respectively. Low-flow faucets and showerheads and efficient dishwashers can also contribute. In total, these technologies can reduce water use within homes by 45 percent.
30 percent of home water use occurs outdoors, while another 10 percent is lost to leaks. Water use for irrigation can be reduced or eliminated by using captured rainwater, shifting to plants that do not require it, installing drip irrigation, or turning off the spigot entirely.
Local restrictions on water consumption and policies requiring efficient plumbing are highly effective. Product labeling can inform consumer choices, while incentives, namely rebates on purchases of efficient appliances and fixtures, can encourage voluntary action.
Hot water…residential energy use: Ürge-Vorsatz, Diana, et al. “Heating and Cooling Energy Trends and Drivers in Buildings.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 41 (2015): 85-98.
average American…water [use] each day: Kenny, J. F., et al. Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2005. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1344, 2009.
used indoors…outdoors…lost to leaks: Inskeep, Benjamin D., and Shahzeen Z. Attari. “The Water Short List: The Most Effective Actions U.S. Households Can Take to Curb Water Use.” Environment. July-August 2014.
[efficient] toilets and…washing machines: Inskeep and Attari, “Short List.”
[impact of] efficient appliances and…fixtures: Inskeep and Attari, “Short List.”
older toilet [vs.] efficient one: NRDC. Water Efficiency Saves Energy. New York: Natural Resources Defense Council, 2009.
behaviors…[that] reduce water use: Inskeep and Attari, “Short List.”
struggl[es] with water availability: Padowski, J., and J. Jawitz. “Water Availability and the Vulnerability of 225 Large Cities in the United States.” Water Resources Research 48 (2012): 1-16.
Nuclear and fossil fuel plants…water for cooling: Maupin, M.A., et al. Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1405, 2014.
invisible gallons associated with [electricity]: NRDC, Water Efficiency.