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Do you use only what you need indoors?

Making small, individual adjustments at home can save lots of water citywide.

Denver Water is known for its creative and successful advertising campaign asking customers to “use only what you need.”

This campaign created citywide awareness to reduce the amount of water used. But, how do you know how much you need?

Denver Water's Use Only What You Need campaign helped customers reduce water use by more than 20 percent in the last 15 years, despite a 15 percent population increase. Photo credit: Denver Water.


That’s exactly what Denver Water’s new approach aims to do: Help individual households learn how much they use and how they can be more water efficient both inside and out.

With a few months to go before watering season begins, lets focus on indoor use first.

Denver Water defines indoor water use as water consumption that occurs within the home and excludes water used for irrigation. Single-family residential customers — who reside in standalone, individually metered, residential properties — make up the majority of Denver Water’s customer base. Indoor water use by these customers represents about 30 percent of our annual water demand.

This water is essential to the health and well-being of families and communities. Maintaining a home with adequate water for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning and personal hygiene requires about 40 gallons per person per day.

On average, Denver Water’s single-family residential customers use about 50 gallons per person per day indoors — 10 gallons more than the efficient indoor water use benchmark of 40 gallons per person per day.

So, how do you know if your household is hitting the target?

Follow these simple steps to determine your indoor water use:

  1. Locate the Average Winter Consumption on your Denver Water bill. AWC is an average of your household’s monthly water consumption from January, February and March, a timeframe when there is little to no water used for irrigation.
  2. Compare your AWC and family size to the chart below illustrating efficient water use by number of people in residence.

Efficient monthly household gallons by family size, based on 40 gallons per person per day.


The chart below shows how water is currently used inside Denver’s residential homes, averaging 50 gallons per person per day, compared to the breakdown of how to most efficiently use water to hit the target of 40 gallons per person per day.

If the average indoor water use matched the efficiency target for indoor water use in Denver, we’d see about 800 acre-feet of water savings per year — or 260,680,800 gallons.

Source: Denver Water's Water Efficiency Plan.


If you’re not quite there, no worries, here are three small technological and habitual changes that can help you hit the efficiency target.

  1. Check your toilets. In most cases, indoor water waste is the result of a leaky or inefficient toilet. Checking your toilet for leaks and making simple repairs is an inexpensive way to save 100 to 250 gallons of water every day. You can also replace older toilets in your home with new more efficient models. Older toilets can use 3 to 5 gallons of water with every flush. Replacing an older model toilet with a new WaterSense-labeled toilet that uses only 1.1 gallons per flush or less can greatly decrease your household's total water usage.
  1. Upgrade your appliances. If your clothes washer is over 10 years old, it might be time for an upgrade. A full-sized ENERGY STAR certified clothes washer uses 14 gallons of water per load, compared to the 20 gallons used by a standard washing machine. That’s a savings of more than 2,000 gallons of water per year.
  1. Take more efficient showers. Shower with friends, take shorter showers or simply swap out the showerhead with a WaterSense-labeled showerhead and save considerable amounts of water. Concerned about shower performance?  You’re not alone. WaterSense-labeled showerheads must pass performance tests to meet consumer expectations.

Denver Water's Use Only What You Need campaign encouraged people to "Shower with Friends" to save water. Photo credit: Denver Water.


For more information and tips about how to be water efficient indoors and outdoors, visit