Saving Water - Tips for Residential Use


When doing laundry, always wash full loads.

  • 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 an energy- and water-efficient model.

  • ENERGY STAR®-labeled washers  use 25 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than other washers. These models only use 14 gallons of water to thoroughly clean a load of laundry, while non-labeled washers use 20 gallons per load.


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. Standard ENERGY STAR labeled dishwashers  use 3.5 gallons or less per cycle and can save an average of 3,870 gallons over the course of their lifetime. These models also use less energy than non-labeled dishwashers.
    • Dishwashers use less water than handwashing, particularly if you limit pre-rinsing. 
  • For an updated list of efficient dishwasher models and their water and energy 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 about 200 gallons (750 liters) per month. That is equal to 2,400 gallons (9.0 cubic meters) 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.

  • Install a WaterSense-labeled weather-based irrigation controller
  • 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 Landscape, Irrigation, and Outdoor Water Use  section of the AWE Resource Library.

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 hydrozones with a distinct watering schedule for each. Hydrozones 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, shower, or 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.

Replace inefficient showerheads with WaterSense-labeled models.

  • The U.S. EPA WaterSense program certifies showerheads  that use a maximum of 2 gallons (7.6 liters) per minute.
  • 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.

Take shorter showers.

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


Replace inefficient toilets with WaterSense-labeled models.

  • Replacing an older toilet that uses 3.5 gallons (13.2 liters) per flush (gpf) with a high-efficiency toilet that uses 1.28 gpf (4.85 liters) will save about 2.22 gpf (8.4 Lpf).  The WaterSense® program labels toilets  that use a maximum of 1.28 gpf; some WaterSense-labeled toileets flush at 1.0 gallon or less.

  • Some older toilets may use as much as 7 gallons (26.5 liters) per flush. 

  • For more information and resources, visit the Toilets page within the AWE Resource Library

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.


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

  • 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 Household Leak Detection  page within the AWE Resource Library.

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.


U.S. EPA WaterSense® Program