CAA-Quebec - Household water consumption

Fresh water is precious
Fresh water is a rare commodity: 97.5% of the Earth’s water is salt, while only 2.5% is fresh. What’s more, two-thirds of this already tiny percentage is locked up in glaciers and permanent snowcover, leaving the world’s lakes, rivers and underground reservoirs as our sole freshwater sources.

Quebec: a major ‘customer’
424 litres
. That’s how much drinking water each person in Quebec consumes daily — and it amounts to five aboveground swimming pools per year. That’s twice as much as the Europeans, and nearly 20% higher than the average Canadian.

The results? Environmental impacts, significant costs for municipal infrastructure and high electricity bills for each household.

In terms of individual activities inside the house, water consumption is distributed as follows:

  • 30% toilet
  • 30% shower and bath
  • 20% laundry and cleaning
  • 10% food

Below are a few simple actions that will help you make a real difference.

In the bathroom

The time you spend in the bathroom each day is an opportunity to make substantial water savings.

Bath and shower

The notion of sinking into a hot bath is appealing . . . but for the most part, you’re best off choosing to shower. Showering uses considerably less than the 150 litres your bath takes. And if you shower for five minutes or less, you can end up using close to half that amount.

Want to take it even further? Purchase a low-flow showerhead, which can cut your water use by almost another 50%. Why not choose one that comes with a shut-off valve? That way, you can stop the flow while you soap or shampoo.

Taking a bath150 litres
Taking a five-minute showerApproximately 75 litres


Your toilet is the biggest water-waster in your home! The culprit: its tank. Traditional tanks hold up to 20 litres! Placing a full bottle of water into the tank will help improve your toilet’s environmental performance. Another solution: install a toilet dam in your tank — a type of barrier that reduces the amount of water used to flush.

Ideally, you would replace your old toilet with a low-flow model — toilets whose tanks often hold just 6 litres. That’s a big difference! Some of the newer toilets are designed to maximize water efficiency. How? By featuring a dual-flush mechanism with a six-litre and a three-litre flush.

Old toilets/traditional tanks20-litre flush
Low-flow toilet6-litre flush
Dual-flush toilet6- or 3-litre flush

Washing machines

Introduced just a few years ago, Energy Star certification has revolutionized household appliances, including washing machines. And for good reason: washing machines with an Energy Star rating (most of which are front-loading) use 40% less water than other machines. While traditional washers can guzzle up to 150 litres per load, their more modern front-loading cousins use only 70 to 90 litres.

Traditional top-loading washer150 litres
Modern Energy Star front-loading washer70 to 90 litres


Don’t ignore even the tiniest drip . . . Are you in the habit of leaving the water running as you brush your teeth or shave? By shutting off the tap when you don’t need it, you can use 27 times less water each time.

Better yet, get yourself a low-flow faucet aerator. When washing your hands for instance, you’ll realize how smart it is.

Brushing teeth/washing hands with tap running13.5 litres
Brushing teeth/washing hands with intermittent flow  0.5 litre

In the kitchen

Given the amount of time generally spent in the kitchen, it would be a shame not to apply your eco-friendly reflexes here too.

Eating and drinking

It’s a fact: steaming your vegetables is healthier than boiling them. Moreover, you need very little water to do so. All in all, it’s a win-win situation. As for defrosting food, use the fridge or a bowl!

Reducing water waste can even apply to your drinking water! Have you considered filling up and refrigerating a pitcher of water? Think about it: no more running the tap until the water gets cold enough!

Every litre of water kept in the fridge saves 10 litres of running water from going down the drain.

Doing the dishes

Not all dishwashers are created equal, when it comes to water use — and the difference is significant. Compared to the 40 litres of hot water that older models use per cycle, newer models only take 20 litres or less. Here, too, be sure to seek out models with an Energy Star symbol: they’re markedly more energy efficient.

If you don’t have a dishwasher, rinse and wash your dishes in a basin or the sink (making sure you don’t overfill it), rather than under running water.

Older dishwashers40 litres
New Energy Star models20 litres or less

A final word of advice: if your tap or toilet leaks, fix the problem immediately. At the end of the year, just a few drips per minute will add up to several baths’ worth of water!