Where Do We Waste Water?

Residential End Uses of Water, Version 2: Executive Report

Single-family homes typically use the most water of any utility customer sector. The 23 utilities studied show a decline of 22 percent in average annual indoor household water use since WRF’s landmark 1999 study. Water providers should consider lower household water use when making future plans.


It is essential for water providers and the urban water supply industry to have a detailed understanding of how water is used in residential settings. While water use in homes was studied as early as the 1940s, interest intensified after the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which sought to improve energy and water efficiency. This Act established maximum flow rates for new residential toilets, showerheads, and faucets. Later federal regulations included clothes washers. Water efficiency in homes has also been encouraged by programs like EPA’s WaterSense.

Until now, the most significant residential end use study conducted in North America was the Water Research Foundation’s 1999 report, Residential End Uses of Water (REU1999) (Mayer et al. 1999). WRF’s new report, Residential End Uses of Water, Version 2 (REU2016) (DeOreo et al. 2016), provides an updated and expanded assessment of water use. It includes more varied study site locations, hot water usage data, more detailed landscape analysis, and additional water rate analysis.


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