How many gallons of water does a person use a day?

Water is one of the most vital resources for human life. We use water for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning, recreation and more. With rising populations and changes in lifestyle, water usage per person has been increasing over the years. But how much water does an average person use daily? Let’s take a closer look at the data and trends around individual water consumption.

Quick Overview

The average person in the U.S. uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. This includes water used at home and for public services. Indoor home use accounts for the majority at over 60 gallons per day. Outdoor home use adds about 9 gallons per day on average. The rest is attributed to public services like firefighting, street cleaning etc.

Breakdown of Indoor Water Use

Indoor water use at home comprises about 69% of total residential use. Here is a breakdown of average indoor water use in gallons per person per day:

  • Toilets – 18.5 gallons
  • Showers – 17.2 gallons
  • Faucets – 15.2 gallons
  • Clothes Washers – 14.7 gallons
  • Dishwashers – 1.0 gallons
  • Baths – 1.2 gallons
  • Leaks – 9.5 gallons

As you can see, the toilet, shower and faucets account for over 50 gallons of indoor water use per day. Leaks also contribute significantly and should be addressed promptly.

Outdoor Water Use

Outdoor water use at homes accounts for about 9 gallons per person daily on average. This includes water used for:

  • Lawn watering and irrigation
  • Washing cars and other vehicles
  • Cleaning outdoor surfaces like patio, deck, driveway etc.
  • Filling swimming pools
  • Outdoor leaks

Outdoor use can vary significantly based on season, climate, yard size and other factors. Watering the lawn and garden is the biggest component of outdoor use.

Public and Commercial Use

Public and commercial water use accounts for about 12% of total water usage. This includes water used for:

  • Firefighting
  • Hydrants
  • Street cleaning
  • Public parks and pools
  • Government buildings
  • Commercial establishments like restaurants, hotels, office buildings etc.

Public use is estimated at about 5-10 gallons per person daily. Commercial use adds another 5-15 gallons depending on the types of businesses.

Trends in Per Capita Water Usage

Per capita water use in the U.S. peaked in the 1980s at about 90-100 gallons per day on average. Here are some trends since then:

  • 1990s – Use dropped to 85-95 gallons per capita daily
  • Early 2000s – Declined to 80-85 gallons per capita daily
  • 2010s – Stabilized at around 80 gallons per capita daily

Water conservation efforts, installation of low-flow fixtures and appliances, growing public awareness about water scarcity and changes in behavior have all contributed to declining per capita water usage over the past few decades.

Factors Affecting Water Usage

Water usage per person depends on several key factors:

  • Geography – Usage is higher in drier and warmer regions than cooler and wetter ones.
  • Household size – Per capita use declines with more people per household.
  • Yard size – Larger yards require more outdoor irrigation.
  • Age of fixtures – Older fixtures use more water than new low-flow models.
  • Income – Higher incomes correlate with higher per capita usage.
  • Season – Outdoor use rises significantly in summer.

In addition to these factors, building codes, water rates, conservation programs and individual habits affect usage.

Breakdown by State

Water usage varies widely between states in the U.S. Here are the states with the highest and lowest daily per capita water usage:

States with Highest Use Gallons per Capita
Idaho 187
Nevada 159
Wyoming 151
Utah 147
Arizona 141
States with Lowest Use Gallons per Capita
Wisconsin 41
Minnesota 45
Maine 50
Michigan 63
New York 65

As you can see, western states have much higher per capita usage than northeastern states. This is likely due to hotter and drier climates requiring more outdoor irrigation.

International Comparison

The U.S. has one of the highest levels of daily water usage per person internationally. Here is a comparison of countries with the highest and lowest water usage per capita:

Countries with Highest Use Gallons per Capita
United States 80-100
Canada 82
Italy 100
France 117
Austria 122
Countries with Lowest Use Gallons per Capita
Rwanda 2
Madagascar 3
Mozambique 3
Haiti 5
Afghanistan 5

Developed countries with higher incomes tend to have higher water consumption. Poorer developing countries use far less water per capita due to lack of infrastructure.

Typical Breakdown Within a Home

Here is a breakdown of how water usage is typically distributed within an average single-family home in the U.S:

  • Bathing – 32.5%
  • Toilets – 20.9%
  • Clothes washers – 14.7%
  • Faucets – 13.7%
  • Dishwashers – 1.0%
  • Leaks – 9.5%
  • Other domestic uses – 7.7%

As you can see, bathing, toilets and laundry account for nearly 70% of the average household’s water consumption. Faucet use also adds up over time.


Showers account for most bathing water use. The average showerhead uses 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Older showerheads use 3-5 gpm. A typical 8 minute shower would use 17-20 gallons.

Bathwater usage depends on the size of tub. A standard bathtub holds 30-50 gallons. Typical baths use 10-25 gallons of water if the tub isn’t filled completely.


Older conventional toilets use about 3.5-5 gallons per flush. Federal standards since 1994 mandate maximum flush volumes of 1.6 gallons. New high-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush or less.

If a household has older 5 gallon toilets flushed 5 times a day by a 4-person household, that’s 100 gallons just for toilets. Replacing with efficient 1.28 gpf models would cut toilet water use in half.

Clothes Washers

The average clothes washer uses 15-35 gallons per load. Conventional top-loading machines use more water, while front-loading high-efficiency washers use less. Selecting the proper load size and avoiding partial loads saves water.


Bathroom and kitchen faucets account for most household faucet water usage. A standard faucet flows at 2.5 gpm, while high-efficiency faucets use 1.5 gpm or less. Newer faucet aerators help reduce flow down to 1 gpm.

Leaky faucets can waste hundreds of gallons per week. Replacing washers and gaskets can fix leaks. Collectively, faucet leaks are a major source of wasted water in U.S. homes.


About 10% of household water use is due to leaks. Defective toilets, drips from faucets and other leaky plumbing fixtures can waste thousands of gallons annually. Detecting and fixing leaks is one of the most effective ways to conserve water.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Water Use

On average, American households use about 30% less water indoors during the winter months. Increased outdoor watering in the summer causes total household use to spike by up to 50% in some regions. Here is how indoor and outdoor water usage compare:

Season Indoor Use Outdoor Use
Winter 60 gpd 8 gpd
Spring 60 gpd 15 gpd
Summer 60 gpd 25 gpd
Fall 60 gpd 12 gpd

Outdoor watering doubles or even triples during summer months in dry, hot regions. Swimming pools, lawns, gardens and landscapes account for the increased seasonal water usage.

Conservation Tips

Here are some ways individuals can reduce daily water usage:

  • Take 5 minute showers instead of baths.
  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.
  • Replace pre-1994 toilets with efficient 1.28 gpf models.
  • Run full laundry and dishwasher loads instead of partial loads.
  • Check for and repair leaks in plumbing fixtures.
  • Turn off water while brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Reduce lawn and garden watering by using soaker hoses instead of sprinklers.
  • Use drought tolerant plants in landscaping.
  • Collect rainwater in barrels for irrigation.
  • Sweep driveways instead of hosing them off.
  • Wash cars and pets less often.

Adopting water-saving fixtures, appliances and habits can reduce water usage by 30-40%. Conserving water saves money on utility bills while also protecting environmental resources.

Impact of Population Growth

The U.S. population has grown significantly over the past few decades. This has led to an increase in total water demand across the country. However, per capita water usage has declined during this period due to conservation efforts. Here is how population has grown compared to per capita daily water usage since 1960:

Year U.S. Population Water Usage (GPCD)
1960 180 million 100-120
1980 227 million 90-100
2000 282 million 80-85
2020 331 million 80-90

Population grew by 84% from 1960 to 2020. But per capita usage has dropped by around 25% over the same period. So conservation has helped temper the water demand increases from a growing population.

Future Outlook

Going forward, U.S. water usage rates are expected to continue declining gradually. Here are some projections from the EPA:

  • 2025 – U.S. per capita water use to decline to 75 gallons per day
  • 2030 – Decline to 70 gallons per person daily
  • 2040 – Drop to 65 gallons per capita daily

New water efficiency standards, growing public awareness of water issues and continued conservation efforts will all contribute to further reductions in daily per capita water usage over the coming decades.


The average American uses 80-100 gallons of water daily. Indoor home use comprises over 60 gallons per capita, with bathing, toilets, laundry and faucets accounting for most household water consumption. Outdoor irrigation, public services, leaks and other uses make up the balance of individual daily water usage.

Per capita water usage has declined significantly over the past few decades due to conservation and efficiency measures. Going forward, daily water demand per person is projected to keep decreasing through enhanced fixtures, education and awareness. Conserving water is key for sustainability as populations grow.

Leave a Comment