Every single person on earth needs a certain amount of water each day to live a happy and healthy life.
We don’t just use it for drinking, although humans need water to stay alive. We also use it to bathe in, to shower, and to wash dishes and clothes.
We even use it for cooking. How often do you find yourself boiling some water to cook pasta in?
The truth, though, is that water, particularly clean, drinking water, is a finite resource.
With climate change causing droughts and water shortages, there has never been a more important time to be conscious about your own water usage.
In this article, we’ll discuss the average water use per person per month in the United States, why it matters, and what you can do to reduce your water consumption.
How Much Water Does The Average Person Use Per Month?
Estimates vary as to exactly how much water each person in the country uses on average. Having said that, whichever estimate you take it is a staggering amount.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the average per person, per day water use in the United States was 82 gallons in 2015.
Spread across a regular 31-day month, that means the average American uses 2,542 gallons of water every single month.
The water industry gives a slightly higher estimate, suggesting that the average person in the U.S. uses about 3,000 gallons of water every month.
Across a family of four, that would mean a total household usage of 12,0000 gallons per month.
According to the Environmental Protection Industry (EPA), the ‘average American family’ uses about 300 gallons of water at home every day.
Scaled up to a month, that is 9,300 gallons of water usage each month for an average family.
So, whilst estimates vary, it appears that the average American uses somewhere between 80-100 gallons of water every day, or between 2,400 and 3,100 gallons per month.
How Does Water Usage Breakdown?
It may surprise you to learn that the biggest use of water at home is to flush the toilet.
One flush of the toilet is estimated to use approximately 5-7 gallons of water, unless it is in a recently built home using more modern water-efficient toilets.
Toilet flushing is closely followed by showering as a major source of water usage.
Here are the EPA estimates of how average household daily water usage breaks down:
- Toilet- 24%
- Shower- 20%
- Washing Machine- 17%
- Water Leakage- 12%
- Other- 8%
Worryingly, we can see that leaks account for 12% of each person’s average daily water usage.
In fact, the average family can waste some 720 gallons per month on household leaks alone.
Another factor that cannot be overlooked when it comes to average water usage is where you live.
States with populations that have grown the most rapidly tend to have average water usage per person that runs above the average.
For example, Utah, which saw population growth of 33% between 2000 and 2015, has an average per person daily water use rate of 150-200 gallons a day, well over the national average.
Average Per Person, Per Month Water Usage
Using EPA figures, here is the breakdown of how much water the average person uses per appliance, per month:
- Toilet – 555 gallons
- Washing Machine – 450 gallons
- Shower – 348 gallons
- Faucet – 327 gallons
- Dishwasher – 30 gallons
Why Save Water?
The world is facing a water crisis. Whilst over 75% of the globe is covered in water, the vast majority of that water is saltwater.
Only about 2.5% of it is drinkable.
According to the UN, some 30% of the global population in as many as 50 different countries are likely to face repeated water shortages in just the next few years.
It’s not just a problem abroad, either.
Water shortages and droughts have become increasingly common in California and the southwestern United States in recent years, driven by climate change.
Droughts are the 2nd most costly type of natural disaster in the U.S. behind hurricanes, costing approximately $9.6 billion per drought according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Another government report, published in 2014, found that 80% (40 out of 50) of state water managers in the United States were expecting water shortages in at least part of their states over the coming decade, even in average conditions.
There’s another incentive to save water, of course- cost!
The average American family spends over $1,000 per year on water bills, and could save hundreds of dollars annually by cutting down on their water consumption.
How Can I Save Water?
There are a number of ways that you can reduce your personal water consumption.
Choosing a shower, which uses on average 17 gallons of water, over a bath, which uses around 42 gallons of water, is one simple switch that you could make to save water.
Cutting down on watering outdoors is another great way to save water.
Just 10 or 20 minutes worth of watering the lawn or garden can use up to 100 gallons of water- one person’s entire daily usage!
Using appliances like dishwashers or washing machines less regularly, for example only when you have a full load, will save you water, as will applying ‘Eco’ settings should these appliances have them.
Even something as simple as turning off the tap whilst brushing your teeth can save 8 gallons of water per day, and up to 248 gallons per month.
Another way to reduce your personal water consumption would be to go vegetarian, even if just for a handful of meals each week.
The agricultural industry uses about 70% of clean drinking water globally, much of which is used by the meat industry for growing feed.
In fact, the livestock industry is one of the biggest water consumers in the United States.
Having said that, there is only so much the individual can do. Much of it will need to be tackled at the governmental level.
A huge part of the United States’ water problem is aging infrastructure, which according to the NRDC costs the country an estimated 2.1 trillion gallons of drinking each year.
The average person in America uses roughly 2400 to 3100 gallons of water each month.
With the world, and indeed large parts of America facing a looming water crisis, understanding your personal water consumption and finding ways to reduce it is more important now than ever.