Elk Grove Water-Watching Tips: Understanding Which Appliances Use the Most Water in Your Home

blog-icon-plumbingNothing’s as pleasant as fishing off a dock as the sun slowly passes overhead and you watch the twitch of the line and the ripples on the water to see if you’ll be eating trout tonight or In-N-Out. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of water-watching we’re going to be talking about today. But don’t go! You’ll want to stick around to hear this. It may not be a day of fishing, but some of these tips can help save you water and money, and they’re good for your neighbors and the state.

It’s no secret that cities like Elk Grove are still in a drought. And droughts tend to get worse during summers. Last year, we saw the austerity measures that got the state to cut residential water use by 30 percent. While we’ve had a much better year than last year, it’s not nearly as good as it needs to be.

It seems like every month, there’s a new nifty water calculator app, and we recommend checking it out to see how you’re stacking up. Knowledge is power, and knowing what you’re using is half the battle (or as Yogi Berra might have put it, 90% of water conservation is ¾ mental).

What uses the most water? (We can already hear cries of “the lawn, the lawn!” Quiet down, we’ll talk about outdoor water use in a post-to-come.) Inside your home, there are four appliances to know about that use the majority of water in your house: showers, dishwashers, washing machines, and toilets.

Showers and Baths

Showers use around 20 gallons of water. Sound like a lot? Baths can use 40 or more gallons. We’re not saying you shouldn’t bathe — believe us, we head to the shower first thing after a long shift — but consider showering for a shorter period of time. If you’re a frequent bath-taker, try to break up the routine with a shower once in awhile. It can make a big difference. You also might consider a flow-limiting showerhead, which reduces the water used by over half.


Dishwashers aren’t exactly light on the water use either. An older dishwasher can use between 10 – 15 gallons per load, which can add up to 1,800 gallons a year. You can actually save water by washing your dishes with a sink full of soapy water and a sponge. Yep, just like grandpa used to do it! Let those dishes soak for five minutes and then clean them by hand. Use fresh water to rinse. A load of dishes done this way can use less than 6 gallons of water, compared to the average dishwasher cycle of 10 – 15 gallons.

Washing Machines

And that load of laundry? If it’s an older washing machine, it can use 30 – 45 gallons; if it’s an energy-efficient model, a load of laundry runs 14 – 25 gallons per load. Instead of running frequent small loads, run larger loads less often. We know, it sounds counter-intuitive. Aren’t we just telling you to use more water than usual? Well, in some ways, but the math pencils out. If you normally do five medium loads a week — at 30 gallons per load — that’s 150 gallons per week. Instead, consider doing two large loads (40 gallons each) instead. You’d be saving 10 gallons a week. This is assuming you’re not using pre-wash and extra rinse cycles. If you are, stop doing so immediately. That 30-gallon medium load could easily turn into 80 gallons with those extra steps enabled.


Your toilet uses about 4 – 5 gallons per flush. We’re all familiar with the phrase from Jerry Brown’s first time in office in the 70’s…”If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Crude yet effective, this sort of water-saving is exactly what we need to be doing in our homes today. Shorter showers, less laundry, fewer flushes.

Understanding Water Use at Home

Understanding which appliances are using the most water in your home is the first step to smarter use. And the good news is that you can flip all this water-saving on its head if you decide to upgrade to rebateable water-saving appliances. A water-conscious dishwasher might use as few as 3 gallons. A toilet might be flushing with only 2 gallons. And a good washing machine won’t be killing your water bill if it uses 14 gallons per load! These technologies aren’t just going to save you money, the utility company will pay you back money to install them. These technologies and others like them are rebateable, which means you get a check in the mail after they’re installed.

How’s that sound for water saving? If you’re interested in getting started on rebateable devices — or want more water-saving tips — get in touch with Bell Brothers. We lead the area in rebates and have gotten over a million dollars back for our clients through regional rebate programs.