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What Uses the Most Water at Home?

Every household is full of water guzzlers like the shower, toilet, hot water system, pool and garden. And when you throw them all together, water bills and energy costs can get quite high.

In reality, that’s unavoidable. Flushing the toilet, washing dishes or showering before work is a necessity. You can’t skip it. Don’t forget, as well, that leaving a running tap while you wait for cold water to turn hot also wastes a lot of water. But there are some ways to save water at home.

How To Reduce Water Use In Your Own Home

The key is to be aware of what the big users are, and where you – and perhaps your family – sit in the grand scheme when it comes to water demand. For example, some homes have no garden to water, while a young couple typically uses far less water than a family of 5.

In terms of averages, reports claim the average water consumption for Australians is about 190 litres of water per day. In some cities that varies, as Sydneysiders reportedly use about 210 litres a day, and Melbournians just 161L. Adelaide sits in the middle, right at the 190L mark.

When it comes to reducing water use, one of the easiest steps is understanding water efficiency ratings. That way you can make informed decisions from the start.

Water Efficiency Star Ratings

The total amount of a household’s water usage depends on how many people live there, how many appliances are in use, etc. A pool and large garden will also drastically impact the specifics.

Meanwhile, the WELS water efficiency star rating on appliances like washing machines, toilets and dishwashers also has a key influence. The more stars an appliance has, the greater its overall water efficiency.

The WELS rating is a clear indication of the volume of water used for a load of washing or for one toilet flush.

So, when it comes to saving water…

According to, water efficient products can save a household up to 35 per cent on past energy and water expenses. And with that in mind, we’ll start at the biggest water user in the whole home: the bathroom.

Between the showers, toilet trips and morning shaves, roughly 40 per cent of water use occurs in the bathroom. And with water efficient taps, that’s where the drastic savings can occur.

How Much Water Does a Shower Use?

Older showerheads typically use between 18-20 litres a minute. Over the course of a 10 minute shower that could mean you’re using 200 litres!

Now, one of the key recommendations is taking shorter showers. That’s always a fast way to save. You can use a shower timer, or Another is purchasing a low flow, water efficient shower head. A 3-star rated showerhead equals about 9 litres per minute, while 4 stars is just 5-6 litres!

You could stand under a steaming shower for 10 minutes and use just 60 litres. Plus, just because the term low flow is used, you are not losing out on pressure intensity or shower satisfaction.

Depending on your water rates and the size of your house and family, you could save around $200 or $300 a year on your water bill alone.

Additionally, the low flow savings make the shower a great alternative to baths.

The bathtub is a tricky place to save water. Bathtubs can require anywhere from 50 litres to 150 litres to fill. And you can’t skimp on the water level, otherwise, it’s not a fun experience.

Therefore, the best practice is to save a bubble bath for special occasions or keep the levels low for the kids.

How Much Water Do Toilets Use?

Standard dual flush toilets are incredible water savers compared to their ancestors of decades gone by.

A WELS 4-star rated toilet typically uses just 4.5L on a full flush, and 3L on a half flush. In contrast, less efficient toilets are still hanging around and wasting 12L in a flush.

The difference over 1 year could be as much as 50,000 litres.

Not sure how much your home could save? Expect each person to flush 4 times a day and over 365 days that would be 17,520L for 1 person. With a 4.5L full flush that number drops right down to 6,570L. Just consider the difference there for a family of 4, for example. That’s big.

Is it Better to Hand Wash or Use a Dishwasher?

The age-old debate between handwashing and the dishwasher really isn’t a fair one. Using a dishwasher is far more efficient thanks to larger load capacities and the startling truth that less water is used.

Depending on your water filter and the size of your sink, you may need 15 litres to fill it up, or 30L.

Meanwhile, a WELS 4-star rated dishwasher only needs 11.5L for a complete load. Even if that’s daily, less water is required than most sinks.

However, pay attention to the efficiency rating. Not all dishwashers are as efficient! Hence why it may be the perfect time to upgrade an old unit.

What Type of Washing Machine Uses Less Water?

If you have a front loader, the good news is you’re already saving! On average, front loaders use 1/3 as much water as same-size top loaders when doing a full load of washing.

And more so than many other appliances, star ratings make a massive difference here. For example:

  • A WELS 4-star rated 8kg front loader uses between 75-85 litres per load
  • A WELS 3-star rated 8kg top loader uses 100+ litres per load

By opting for a water efficient model of washing machine, such as a front loader at a higher star rating, you can save almost 30 litres of water every wash with minimal effort.

You can also save more water by using garden-friendly detergents and allowing the rinse water to flow directly to the garden, or through a greywater system.

Get Your House in Order

Of course, you can save money and reduce your water consumption by ensuring all the plumbing throughout your home is in prime working condition. Everything from fixing dripping taps to replacing an inefficient or broken down toilet with a new toilet can help to get your water usage under control. Always get a licensed plumber to fix leaks around your home as well.

Does the Garden Need a Lot of Water?

Gardens are a tricky area to balance out water usage. You do not want to put the health of your plants at risk just to save some water.

Therefore, it’s important to maintain outdoor taps and irrigation systems to prevent any unnecessary waste. As a result, you can feel good about leaving the sprinkler on in summer.

Speaking of sprinklers, there are no WELS ratings here. But you can monitor the water flow rate per minute. At the lower end, it could be 3L a minute, or 11 litres. Over the course of 1 hour a day that might be 120L or 660L.

If you’re ever in doubt, consult a local expert at a nursery, as they can give you perfect tips on how much water is required. You can avoid over watering and stick to a more targeted and efficient watering schedule. A hose with a trigger nozzle can always be helpful in this area.

Finally, pay attention to water temperature and the times you water. Before 9am and after 6pm is best as there is less evaporation, so the moisture remains for longer and your plants will thrive.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.