About 5% of that is run through toilets, taps and garden hoses in the home. The other 95% used is from the food people eat, energy you use, products you buy and services people rely on.
Water Down the Drain
On average, 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks. Short of installing new water-efficient fixtures, one of the easiest, most effective ways to cut your footprint is by repairing leaky faucets and toilets.
If you use a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
It can take 40 to 70 gallons of water to fill the bathtub. Showers use a lot less water and are more efficient use of water.
Lots of flushes can add up to nearly 20 gallons a day down the toilet. If you still have a standard toilet, which uses close to 3.5 gallons a flush, you can save by retrofitting or filling your tank with something that will displace some of that water, such as a brick.
Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
Dishwashing is a relatively small part of your water footprint—less than 2% of indoor use—but there are always ways to conserve. Using a machine is actually more water efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads.
Under-sink reverse osmosis systems can use an additional 5 to 10 gallons of water a day as waste water. If possible route the drain water from your under-sink RO to water outside landscaping.
Filters and filtered water can cut total water usage. It is estimated that it takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
If you have very hard water (over 10 grains per gallon) conditioned or soft water can actually cut your water use by keeping appliances and fixtures free from scale build-up, so they don’t need to be cleaned as often.
The water it takes to produce the average American diet alone—approximately 1,000 gallons per person per day—is more than the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods.
To calculate your water footprint, see the National Geographic calculator here.