July's Action of the Month: Know Your Home Water Use



All this talk about drought and water conservation can often feel abstract. Suggestions include taking shorter showers, not washing your car, and so on. But if you really want to cut back on water use, the first step is learning how much you actually use. Although residential water use only counts for about 10% of California’s overall water use, that’s no excuse to slack on the conservation efforts on your property. In hopes of easing your water woes, we’ve crafted a handy guide on how to do a home water audit and read your water meter!


The primary goal of a water audit is to identify and quantify the uses and losses of water from a system, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The easiest way to learn how much water your home uses is by actually taking the time to look at your water bill, which gives a good sense of month-to-month usage.


However, if you’re really looking to get to know your usage, checking your home’s water meter (if you live in a single-family home) on a nearly daily basis is the route to take. GreenHome points out that you can even read this throughout the day in order to learn how much water is used through daily tasks, like doing a load of laundry or washing the dishes.


Of course, this means that you also have to know how to read your water meter. Thankfully, Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) has this handy guide all ready for you. After taking steps to find your water meter and understand how to read it, take the time to work on monitoring your use by checking the odometer (which measures total water use similar to your car’s odometer for miles) periodically and writing down the complete number.


CCWD suggests doing so about once a week; you can subtract the first reading from the second (to get water use in cubic feet), multiply that by 7.48 (to get water use in gallons), and divide by the number of days between readings, which will ultimately give you the average daily usage in gallons during that period. Don’t miss CCWD’s water use calculator for an easy online tool to do so.


To really break this down and make this an easy solution, here’s a recap of the main action steps for a home audit:


  1. Examine your water bill to get a better idea of monthly usage patterns.
  2. Take the time to monitor your water meter (if applicable), learning how much water different tasks take and understanding your average usage. (Read back over the article to get details on how to do this.)
  3. Keep an eye out for leaks on your property and address all of them immediately. If the low flow indicator of your water meter moves, this indicates a possible leak.
  4. Assess your personal water use habits and work to form more conservation-friendly ones, such as not leaving the water running while washing dishes or only doing laundry in full loads.
  5. Don’t forget to follow through and take steps to change your household’s water usage! Look for rebates from CCWD, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), and Sustainable Contra Costa’s Action Guides to lead you on your conservation journey. LINKS


For additional resources, check out CCWD's home water use survey and EBMUD's online WaterSmart Center (complete with rebates, tips, and a home survey kit).


Don’t miss our related Action Guides, including how to complete a home water survey, convert your lawn and sprinklers, and add sheet mulching to your garden.

You need to be a member of SCOCO Network to add comments!

Join SCOCO Network

Email me when people reply –