How Much Money Do You Spend on Household Water Leaks?
Average US Household
About 13% of all the water that the average household is billed for is water that’s been lost to household leaks. So that’s about 17.8 gallons of water per household per day. With an average price of 1.5 cents per gallon, the average household pays $98 per year for water that they aren’t even using.
And that’s just the price of the water. The water lost to leakage accounts for 5% of hot water usage. So with an average annual water heating cost of $296, that means the average household is also paying $14 a year to heat the hot water that is lost to leaks.
Combining water and energy costs, the average US household wastes $112 per year on unused water. Multiplying that across the 132 million households in the US, the nation pays for 858 billion gallons of water that are lost to household leaks every single year. That’s enough for a yearly supply of water for almost 20 million households, totaling $14.8 billion per year on water we don’t even use. According to the World Bank, $14.8 billion is larger than the GDP of 86 countries.
Your Individual Household
Although 13% is the average amount of water leaked in a US household, your home’s water leaks depend on how well your faucets, shower heads, toilets, water heaters, and water pipes are functioning. It also depends on how much money your utilities charge per unit of water and energy.
While the average household leaks 17.8 gallons of water per day, 10% of houses have leaks of higher than 90 gallons per day. And the unluckiest households have leaks that waste as much as 600 gallons per day. That would be 219,000 gallons of water per year! Let’s explore a few tricks for reducing your water leakage at home.
Identifying Water Leaks
Showers and Sinks
Dripping faucets and shower heads can be some of the easiest household water leaks to identify. Even though a few drips here and there can seem insignificant, they can add up tremendously over time. Leaking just one drip per second can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water a year, or enough water for someone to take 176 showers. Faucet and shower head leaks can usually be fixed with some pipe tape or by tightening the components with a wrench.
Another common water leak is when toilet flappers don’t tightly seal between flushes. Some toilet leaks can waste over 300 gallons of water per day. To see if your toilet is leaking, you can use food coloring. Add the food coloring to your toilet tank and let it sit for about 30 minutes without flushing the toilet. After 30 minutes, if the water in your toilet bowl is colored, you know that water is leaking from your toilet tank to your toilet bowl when it’s not supposed to be.
If your toilet sounds like it’s refilling itself even when no one has flushed it, that is another good indicator that you have a silent toilet leak. Check out our Potty Talk article to learn more.
Water leaks can be harder to detect if they’re coming from the water pipes inside your walls instead of the end use devices like toilets and sinks. Sometimes you can identify these pipe leaks if you notice a musty smell or discolored floors and walls. But other times you’ll have to use water pressure sensors to detect leaks if you don’t want to tear up your walls.
A simple way to check for leaks is to check the reading on your water meter, then don’t use water for a few hours. Go back to check the meter again, and if the reading has increased, you know you have a leak somewhere.
It’s super important to repair leaks, not only because of the money you’re wasting to pay for the lost water, but also to prevent super costly structural repairs and negative health impacts from exposure to mold. Leaks from rain water or snow can also cause costly structural damage and exposure to mold. So it’s important to keep your gutters unclogged and to be wary of leaks through foundation walls.
And speaking of snow, cold temperatures during the winter months can cause water inside pipes to turn to ice and expand. This can cause the pipes to burst, which can be expensive to fix. To prevent pipes from bursting when it’s cold, make sure to insulate your water pipes, especially those that are in unheated areas of your home. Also be sure to drain and disconnect your hoses to prevent outdoor spigots from freezing and bursting.
Disclaimer: Please consult with a professional before making any upgrades to your toilet, sinks, showers, water pipes, water heaters, bathroom, or home. Any and all upgrades should maintain proper health, safety, and sanitation levels within your homes. It All Adds Up and its affiliates are not responsible for any household damage or personal injuries that should occur from following any suggestions from It All Adds Up.