How We Use Water At Home, & How Much

We already put together a guide about how much water the different household appliances and devices might use.

But, in the guide below, we outline generally how we use water at home, and how much we might use.


Summary – How We Use Water At Home, & How Much

How We Use Water At Home

At home, we use water both inside and outside the house

On average in America, different sets of data show different %’s of inside and outside water use at home

Some older data shows that outside water use outweighs inside water use, and newer sets of data shop the opposite

What might be three variables that determine how much water is used outside the home (in any individual home) are:

– How often a household uses irrigation, sprinklers, hoses, and even whether pools (especially refilling a pool) are included in water use numbers. So, these types of outside 

– How much lawn, vegetation and soil/garden a household has to apply water to

– The climate in an area. In drier and hotter parts of a country or region, water use outside the house might far outweigh inside water use 

In terms of water used solely inside the house, water use can be divided up between the various household appliances, devices and activities

In order, toilets (flushing), showers (and baths), faucets/taps, and clothes washing machines (laundry) might use the highest % share of inside devices and appliances. Cooking and drinking, and cleaning might use the least

Having said this, households should also be aware of leaks around the house, which can also make up a % of the water use share

We also use water indirectly at home, like for electricity and food


How Much Water We Use At Home

Each sector of society uses a different % share of total fresh water withdrawals.

That number is around 11% in households and for municipal use (read more about water use in agriculture, in industry, and for municipal/household use)

In addition to % share, another measurement of water use for households can be expressed as water volume – either total litres or gallons, or expressed as a share of a cities’ overall water supplies

Per capita usage is another unit of measurement that could be used

Some sets of data indicate that per capita water use at home in the US varies from State to State – some use more water and some use less water

The US has a higher per capita water use footprint at home than some other countries due to the amount of outdoor water use and irrigation used, according to some sets of data

So, water usage in terms of volume may vary by individual household, by region/State, and by country

It may also vary depending on the unit of measurement used e.g. per capita vs total volume

Something that isn’t mentioned as often is the total water footprint of a singular person at home. Food and electricity use may make up a far bigger part of the total water footprint than direct household water use. There’s detailed numbers on this at the bottom of this guide


How We Use Water At Home 

A 2016 update of [a] 1999 study measured the average quantities and percent shares of seven indoor end uses of water, [and the results were]:

24% Toilets

20% Showers

19% Faucets

17% Clothes Washers

4% Other Domestic Uses

3% Baths

1% Dishwashers



According to, we use water directly at home on the following:

Bathing and showering – 35%

Flushing toilet – 30%

Laundry – 20%

Cooking and drinking – 10%

Cleaning – 5%


Household Indoor Water Use vs Outdoor Water Use

Two sets of data show different results for indoor vs outdoor water use.

Some indicate higher outside water use, and some indicate higher inside water use …


According to a 1999 study, on average all over the U.S. 58% of domestic water use is outdoors for gardening, swimming pools etc. and 42% is used indoors.



Roughly 70 percent of [the 300 gallons of water a day that the average US family uses] occurs indoors [and outdoors 30%]

[Outdoor water use] can be much higher in drier parts of the country and in more water-intensive landscapes [such as in arid conditions, and where irrigation is used]



How Much Water Different Appliances & Devices Use In Our Houses

You can read more in this guide about how much water different household appliances and devices might use.


How Much Water We Use In Households – Global Average Withdrawals

In terms of a global average, the amount of total fresh water withdrawals we use in households and for public services is about 11%.

Agriculture accounts for roughly 70%, and industrial use 19%.

Different countries use different shares across the sectors though – some countries use mos tof their water in the industrial sector for example.


How Much Water We Use At Home – General Numbers

Water Use Per Day, Per Household

In the US:

The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home (


Total Domestic Water Use, Per Day (Total Volume)

In the US:

Domestic/residential water use [in the US] was estimated … at 27.4 billion US gallons per day in 2010 (


Total Domestic Water Use, Per Day (Per Capita)

In the US:

The average domestic water use per person in the U.S. was … 88-US-gallon (330 L) per day in 2010 [however, this varies from State to State – some States use less, and some use more]


In other countries:

This is about 2.2 times as high as in England (150 Liter) and 2.6 times as high as in Germany (126 Liter) (


The Indirect Water We Use At Home

What is not mentioned as often by some sources is the indirect water we use at home.

We use water directly via activities, devices and appliances at home.

But, we also use water indirect through the electricity we use, and the food we eat.

Food and electricity use might be responsible for far higher water footprint designations than direct water use.

Read more about direct and indirect, and visible and invisible water use from the average person in this guide.






4. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2018) – “Water Access, Resources & Sanitation”. Published online at Retrieved from: ‘’ [Online Resource]




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