Saving Water - Tips for Residential Use

washing machine


When doing laundry, always wash full loads.

  • Conventional washers built before 2011 typically use about 40 gallons (151.4 liters) per load; resource-efficient washer may use as little as 15 gallons (56.8 liters) per load.
  • Adjust the water level in the washer to the amount needed for the load.  Some of the new efficient washers will do this automatically.

When it's time to replace the clothes washer, choose a high-efficiency washer with a low water factor.

  • The smaller the water factor, the more efficient the clothes washer. 
  • Energy Star models currently have a maximum of 6.0, although many well-performing machines are available with lower water factors.  Look for the lowest water factor available to achieve the highest water savings.
  • For more information and resources, visit the AWE Residential Clothes Washer Introduction Page.


rubber gloves

If washing dishes by hand, fill the sink with water rather than continually running the tap.

Install an efficient dishwasher.

  • Technological advances in dishwashers make it possible to use less water to achieve the same goal.  Selecting a new dishwasher that uses less water per cycle will reduce household water use.
    • Dishwashers use less water than handwashing, particularly if you limit pre-rinsing. 
  • For examples of dishwasher models and their water use, visit the CEE Qualifying Residential Dishwasher List

Only wash full loads of dishes in the dishwasher.

Avoid using running water to thaw frozen foods.

  • Instead, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.



Find and fix any leaky faucets.

  • A faucet leaking 60 drops per minute will waste 192 gallons (726.8 liters) per month. That is equal to 2,304 gallons (8.7 m3) per year.

Install efficient faucets and/or faucet aerators.

  • The U.S. EPA WaterSense program labels efficient faucets and aerators that use a maximum of 1.5 gallons (5.7 liters) per minute. 
  • Look for the WaterSense label when selecting new faucets or aerators.

Turn off the faucet.

  • When lathering hands, shaving, or brushing teeth.


If an irrigation system is used, make sure it is properly set up and maintained.

  • Irrigate hydrozones based upon the plants' water needs.
  • Install a weather-based SMART irrigation controller.  It is essential that SMART controllers are properly programmed and maintained. 
  • Install and maintain a rain sensor, either wireless or wired, on the irrigation controller if it does not have one built-in.
  • Regularly inspect the sprinkler heads to make sure they are not damaged or malfunctioning.
  • Adjust sprinklers so they are not spraying water on paved surfaces such as the sidewalk or driveway.
  • For more information, visit the AWE Landscape, Irrigation, and Outdoor Water Use Page and the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico's Xeriscape Principles Page.
garden spade

Landscape with water-wise landscaping principles.

  • Use native plants or plants that require little water to thrive in your region.
  • Plant turf grass only in areas where people will use it actively for recreation.
  • Organize your landscape into hydro-zones. Hydro-zones are areas of landscape with plant and vegetation that have similar water requirements. This prevents over-watering some plants and under-watering others.
  • Keep soil healthy and add mulch to prevent water loss through evaporation.
  • If watering with a hose, make sure it has a shut-off nozzle.
  • Water in the morning to prevent water loss due to evaporation.  Avoid watering when it is windy.
  • Use a rain barrel to collect water for use in the landscape.
  • Add a graywater system to collect water from your washing machine or shower and bath, and use it in the landscape.


If it takes a long time for the hot water to reach the shower, use it as an opportunity to collect water for other uses, such as watering houseplants.

shower head

Replace showerheads that have a flow rate greater than 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) per minute (the current national energy policy act standard).

  • If the showerhead is not labeled, the flow rate can be checked by catching the water in a 1-gallon (3.8 liters) bucket.  If it takes less than 24 seconds to fill up, the showerhead flow rate is more than 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) per minute.  The U.S. EPA WaterSense program labels efficient showerheads that use a maximum 2.0 gallons (7.6 liters) per minute.
  • For more information and resources, visit the AWE Residential Shower Introduction Page.

Take shorter showers.

  • Reducing a 10-minute shower to 5 minutes will save 12.5 gallons (47.3 liters) of water if the showerhead has a flow rate of 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) per minute (even more if the showerhead has a higher flow rate).



Replace toilets installed before 1994 (1992 for Texas and California) with High-Efficiency Toilets (HETs).

  • Replacing an older toilet that uses 3.50 gallons (13.2 liters) per flush (gpf) with a HET that uses 1.28 gpf (4.85 liters) will save 2.22 gpf (8.4 Lpf).  The EPA WaterSense program labels efficient toilets that use a maximum 1.28 gpf. 
  • If the toilet is flushed an average of six times each day it will save 13 gallons (49.2 liters) per day or 4,745 gallons (17.9 m3) per year.  Some older toilets may use as much as 7 gallons (26.5 liters) per flush. 
  • For more information and resources, visit the AWE Toilet Fixtures Introduction Page and WaterSense Labeled Toilets Page.

Check toilets to verify they are working properly.

  • Make sure the water level is not too high, the fill valve is working properly, and the flapper is not leaking. A running toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day.
  • For more information on checking a toilet, visit the H2Ouse Water Saver Home Toilet Page.


dripping facuet

Check water bills for any instances of high water use, as this may be an indication of a leak.

  • Leaking faucets, leaking toilets, and leaking pipes all have something in common, they waste a lot of water! Your water bill will often show abnormal water consumption if there is a leak. Many water utilities have information on how to read your water bill online. For more information and resources, visit the AWE Household Leaks Page.

Composting food wastes saves water by reducing the water needed to run a garbage disposal.

Pool owners can use a cover to reduce water loss through evaporation. A pool cover can also save energy and reduce the need for chemicals.

Sweep outdoor surfaces with a broom instead of using a hose.

Wash vehicles at a carwash that recycles its water. If washing at home, make sure the hose has a shutoff valve.

More Resources

Alliance for Water Efficiency Resource Library

Alliance for Water Efficiency Business Guide: Find water-efficient product manufacturers near you

Energy Star

H2Ouse Water Saver Home

U.S. EPA WaterSense Program

Xeriscape Council of New Mexico