Water Efficiency: The Averages v The Ideals

If you plan to watch the Super Bowl this weekend, you’re likely to see a little water efficiency activism, thanks to Colgate-Palmolive. The Fortune-500 superbrand is using its Super Bowl spot to remind people to turn off the water when they brush.

Leaving the water running can send as much as 4 gallons of fresh water down the drain. The ad reminds viewers that those 4 wasted gallons are more fresh water than some people around the world get in an entire week.

Turning off the water while you brush you teeth can save about $40 per year. If you’re looking for some big savings, think about this: the three biggest water consumers in your home are your toilets, your washing machine and your shower. Let’s look at two typical Boston families (four people each) – the Average family and the Ideal family – and how their relative water efficiency shows up on their water bills.

The Bathroom
Each member of the Average household flushes the toilet about 5 times per day, so the Average family uses more than 25,500 gallons per year just to clear the bowl. Toilet usage accounts for nearly one-third of the Averages’ water bill.

The Ideal family installed new water-saving toilets in their home. Each member of the Ideal family also flushes the toilet 5 times, but since their toilets only consume 1.25 gallons per flush, the Ideals use only about 9,000 gallons of water per year on flushing.

If the retail rate for water and sewer services is $0.015 per gallon in their town, the Averages will spend about $380 per year to flush their toilets, while the Ideals will spend just $135. By switching to a new toilet (or even a high-efficiency toilet using just 1.25 gallons per flush), the Averages can reduce their water use by 16,500 gallons per year and save about $250 per year!

The Laundry Room
The Averages have an older washing machine that uses 32 gallons of water per load. The Averages do 12 loads of laundry each week, so they use about 20,000 gallons of water for laundering in a year.
The Ideals have a new high-efficiency washing machine that uses 13 gallons of water per load. They also do 12 loads of laundry each week, but their washer uses only about 8,100 gallons of water each year. Using the same retail rate for water and sewer services, the Averages will spend about $300 each year on laundry, while the Ideals will spend just $122, a savings of $178 annually.

The Shower
Each member of the Average family spends more than 8 minutes in the shower, which uses about 20 gallons of water per shower at a cost of about $0.30 per shower. In a year, the Averages use more than 29,000 gallons of water for showering. The Ideal family installed a WaterSense showerhead, which reduced their shower usage to about 16 gallons per shower at a cost of about $0.24 per shower. They reduced their consumption to about 23,360 gallons per year. The Averages spend about $438 annually on showering, while the Ideal family spends just $350.

In terms of water, the Averages consume nearly 75,000 gallons of water each year, while the Ideals use about 40,000 gallons per year on the same activities. In all, the Averages spend $1,118 on water and sewer, while the Ideals spend about $600.

If you’d like more information about water-efficiency, and how you can make your home more water efficient, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’d be happy to help you select and install water saving fixtures around your home!

Photo Credit: Bob Smith, via