Water Conservation in the Bathroom

There are a number of ways homeowners can go about improving their bathroom water conservation.

  • Toilet

    It might surprise you to learn that toilet water accounts for 28-40% of water use in the average home. Cutting this figure down can help improve your bathroom water conservation.

    A 1992 US federal law mandated that new household toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons (6.05 liters) of water per flush after January 1, 1994. This move, designed to improve bathroom water conservation, reduced the tank size by more than half, and manufacturers had to adapt toilets that had used 3.5 (13.24 liters) or 5 gallons (18.92 liters) per flush. The law, however, did not affect toilets already in place. If you have one or more toilets that are pre-1994, you can save water by replacing them with more recent models.

    Although the reduction in water usage was significant with the move to a 1.6 gallon (6.05 liters) limit—estimated as 14,000 gallons per year for a family of four—some manufacturers have gone even farther, introducing a dual-flush toilet that saves more water. These toilets offer a choice of flush volumes so that the user can choose. The general rate is 1.6 gallons (6.05 liters) for solid waste and .8 gallons (3.02 liters) for liquids.

  • Showerheads

    Showers are responsible for about 30% of home water use, and are a major component in bathroom water conservation. Prior to 1992, the standard water flow to a showerhead was 4.5 gallons (17.03 liters) per minute. But the Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 required showerheads manufactured in the United States to set maximum water flow at or below 2.5 gallons (9.46 liters) per minute when the pressure is 80 pounds per square inch (551 580 pascals). So, if you have a pre-1992 showerhead, you can save water by replacing it. Many faucets aerate the water to provide fuller spray, but this also reduces the heat, so you can choose aeration or not, depending on which factor—fullness or heat—is most important to you.

    Shortening shower length is another way to save water, as is showering in place of bathing in the tub. Filling a bathtub may take 2 ½ times as much water as is used in a 5-minute shower.

    Some showerheads now feature “pause” as a setting, allowing you to turn off the water while you lather, or, if you shave in the shower, while you ply your razor.

  • Faucet Aerators

    These are little caps that screw onto the ends of sink faucets and restrict water flow. The combination of low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators can reduce water consumption up to 50%

  • Toothbrushing

    By turning off the water after your toothbrush is wet, you save as many minutes of running water as you spend brushing your teeth, which can help with bathroom water conservation. You can fill a glass or paper cup for rinse water.

  • Shaving

    Placing a few inches of water in the basin provides a spot to rinse a razor several times without keeping the water running.

  • Drinking

    Supplying small disposable paper cups in the bathroom makes more efficient use of water than sticking one’s head in the sink or drinking out of cupped hands held under the running faucet.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Toilet Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Bathtubs
  • Introduction to Showerheads
  • Introduction to Bathroom Sink Faucets
  • Introduction to Toilets
  • Showerhead Buying Guide