Last updated on January 31st, 2019
The average daily water consumption by ordinary people living in the modern world may be more than you think!
The purpose of this post is to simply point out how much water we use every day, and how important it is in our lives.
Most everyone depends on a steady flow of clean water coming out of the faucet. If that flow ever stops… Well, I’ll leave it at that… (to get you thinking)
The numbers may be stunning…
The following is a re-post of a previous article.
An important reminder of what we take for granted.
It’s easy to underestimate how much water we use in normal everyday life. When it flows out of the faucet at home it may not seem like much – but throughout the day it all adds up to a surprising volume of water.
Lets look at the various categories of water consumption and the amount of water which might be consumed each day under normal conditions.
Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
Water For Drinking
The human body needs to replenish with water. It is said that on average the human body cannot survive beyond 3 days without water. Throughout each day we consume various forms of water – some of which is in our foods and others in the various liquids we drink.
It is a widely accepted recommendation to store 1 gallon of water for each survival day of drinking water. That’s 16 cups per day. While you probably are not drinking that much water each day today, if you had no other source of liquid intake you may approach that number – especially in hot weather or while under exertion.
Water For Washing Hands And Hygiene
When the faucet is ‘running’, there is more water flow than you may think, which adds up fast. Old faucets can use up to 5 gallons per minute while newer faucets flow about 2 gallons per minute. Lets say on average it’s 3 gallons per minute.
How often do you wash your hands (for whatever reasons) throughout the day? Running water while brushing your teeth? Etc.?
I will speculate that an average daily water usage in this category might be 2 gallons.
Water For Cooking
The amount of water used for food preparation and cooking will also depend on what you’re eating each day. Some foods require a good amount of water (boiling pastas, rice, beans, potatoes, etc..) while others do not.
Again, we need to estimate an average. I would guess that nearly every dinner meal during a given week might require a pot filled with water to boil something – maybe two…? Even for those of you who go out to eat, or take-out, etc… someone else is still consuming water to prepare your food.
So lets just say that you might consume 1 gallon of water per day for cooking (more or less) on average.
Water For Washing Dishes
This category of water use can vary widely. Either you wash your pots and pans, dishes and utensils by hand (wide variation of water use depending on how you do this) – or you put them in the dishwasher. Either way you are consuming water.
Generally, a modern automatic dishwasher will use much less water than you doing it by hand. The current ‘energy star’ rated dishwasher is required to use less than 4.25 gallons of water per cycle (as of 2012). Older dishwashers will use more – previous energy star rating was 5.8 gallons (2009), and still older dishwashers will use up to 10 gallons per cycle.
If you’re hand washing dishes, the amount of water you’ll consume varies greatly depending on your method and how many dishes you’re washing. Some people let the water faucet run the entire time while rinsing. Others use rinse basins and wash basins, etc.. I will guess that water consumption for hand washing dishes may range from 10 to 30 gallons (‘normal usage’ while not paying attention to conservation efforts).
Since most people in the modern world use an automatic dishwasher (4 – 10 gallons), while some will hand wash dishes (10 – 30 gallons) lets say that on average the water consumption is about 8 gallons.
Water For Flushing The Toilet
Every time you flush the toilet, you are consuming at least 2 gallons (modern toilets) or even 3 or 4 gallons (older toilets). So the question is, how many times do you flush a toilet every day?
That depends of course, but on average I would guess 6 to 8 times a day, which would amount to about 20 gallons of water consumption per day on average.
Water For Washing Clothes
Most people don’t wash laundry every day – but certainly at least once a week. Again, this depends on how many are in the household and the lifestyle which may or may not warrant more clothes washing than others.
A top-loading washing machine consumes LOTS of water, and on average about 40 gallons per load (some are much more). A front-loading washing machine may consume on average about 20 gallons per load (some are less).
Lets average the water usage to 30 gallons per load. If you only wash one load per week (probably a good average for one person), you will consume about 4 gallons of water per day.
Water For Bathing/Showering
Most people shower rather than bathe in a full bathtub of water. A modern efficient shower head may flow about 2 or 3 gallons per minute. Other shower heads will blast out much more than that. Let’s go with 3 gallons per minute as an average. A 10 minute shower will use about 30 gallons of water.
Drawing a bath for a half-full bathtub of water may consume about 50 gallons of water.
Some people shower every day while others not so much. Lets go with a daily shower on average and usage of 30 gallons of water per day.
ADD IT ALL UP
Of course there will be wide variations, but…
According to my (very general) estimations listed above, on average each person may consume 66 gallons of water each day.
Generally, in the United States there are about 2.5 people per household. So the water consumption figure jumps to 165 gallons per day.
Typically, an emergency situation is fairly short-lived, and your emergency water storage or consumption needs will be nowhere near what you would normally use each day.
You will obviously need drinking water (although your faucet might still be flowing with water – you should plan as though it’s not). 1 gallon per day.
You should store at least minimal extra water for cleaning/hygiene. 1 gallon per day.
Apart from that, you can flush a toilet without running water by using this method which will consume about 3 gallons per flush (more or less) with ‘gray’ water. During an emergency you will conserve your flush habits (I will leave it to your imagination). ‘Flush’ water obviously does not have to be pure drinking water (safe for drinking) but instead could come from a bucket you’ve collected ‘down by the river’, etc..