This article shows you how to calculate how much money you spend every year to use your sinks. You can reduce this expense by installing aerators on your faucets or by turning off the sink when it’s not needed!
How much does it cost you to use your sinks?
The average US household spends approximately $249 per year to use sinks. Similar to our article on showers, to determine how much you pay per year to use your sinks, you need to consider both water and energy costs (assuming you use hot water when you use your sinks).
For water costs, you need to know the following:
- The number of gallons of water your faucets use per minute.
- The number of minutes you spend using each sink per year.
- The price pay the utility company per gallon of water.
For energy costs, you need to know the following:
- The fuel type that your water heater uses (e.g. electricity, natural gas, propane, etc.).
- The amount of fuel needed to heat one gallon of water.
- The price pay the utility company per unit of fuel.
The Cost of Sink Water
Gallons per Sink
The gallons of water you use at your sink depends on the flow rate of your faucet, or how many gallons come out of the nozzle in a given amount of time. Flow rates are usually measured in gallons per minute (gpm). Typical flow rates for kitchen and bathroom sinks are 2.2 gpm, 2.0 gpm, or 1.5 gpm. Current US national standards mandate that the flow rate can be no higher than 2.2 gpm for new sinks, but several old sinks are still in use that have a flow rate of 2.5 gpm or higher.
The flow rate is usually engraved somewhere on the faucet near its outlet, but the flow rate can change depending on your house’s water pressure and if you have the faucet partially or fully open. To more accurately measure your flow rate, you can time how long it takes to fill up a one-gallon container. For example, if it takes 24 seconds to fill up, you are using 2.5 gallons of water per minute while you use your sink.
The average household runs its sinks for about 15 minutes per day, using about 27 gallons of water per day (or 9,855 gallons per year). When calculating how many minutes each sink is on, make sure to consider the times you keep the sink running while brushing your teeth, shaving, washing your hands, washing dishes, cooking, and filling water bottles.
In the US, the average price for water is about $0.015 per gallon. If you use 9,855 gallons of water to use your sinks per year, that means you would spend about $148 per year for the water costs of your sinks.
The Cost to Heat Your Sink Water
Check out our Water Heater post for more information about how to determine how much money you pay to heat your water. The average US household spends $296 per year on water heating, and usually about 34% of all hot water usage is consumed by sinks. Therefore, the average US household spends about $199 per year to heat their sink water.
To calculate a more accurate cost for your sink water heating expenses, you can use the specifications of your water heater to estimate how much energy it uses to heat one gallon of water. If you know the price you pay per unit of fuel (electricity, natural gas, etc.), you can calculate your sink energy expenses. Usually, people use 57% hot water and 43% cold water when they use their sinks.
Reducing Your Sink Costs
Avoid Hot Water
Make sure to use hot water at your sinks only when you need it. But don’t cut back so much on your hot water usage that you are not properly cleaning your hands or your dishes. Maintaining proper levels of cleanliness is helpful in reducing the spread of germs.
Reduce Your Sink Minutes
There are several strategies you can use to reduce your sink minutes, which would directly decrease both your water and energy costs of sinks.
- Turn off the sink when brushing your teeth and shaving. In some households, this strategy can save up to 15 gallons of water and their corresponding costs per day!
- Turn off the sink when scrubbing dishes. Stay tuned for our episode on dishwashers to learn about the most cost-effective ways to clean your dishes. In the meantime, instead of running the sink while cleaning your dishes, turn the sink on for just long enough to wet a rag. Then use that rag to scrub the dishes while the sink is off. You can then turn the sink back on to briefly rinse the dishes.
- Turn off the sink while scrubbing your hands. Turn the water on at first to wet your hands, turn off the water while you are scrubbing your hands with soap, then turn it back on to rinse. But now more than ever, make sure to still use enough hot water and soap to keep your hands clean to reduce the risk of spreading pathogens and infections.
Add an Aerator
You can install an aerator on your faucets that reduces the flow rate but maintains perceived water pressure by mixing air into the water stream. By installing aerators to reduce your kitchen flow rate to 1.5 gpm and your bathroom flow rate to 0.5 or 1 gpm, you can save up to 50% of water and energy costs for your sinks. A 50% reduction would reduce the average US household’s annual sink expenses from $249 to just $124.
Disclaimer: Please consult with a professional before making any and all upgrades to your sinks, plumbing, 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. Continue to properly wash your hands and stay hydrated to maintain your health.