Advances in plumbing technology and design mean that faucets, showers, and toilets can use significantly less water than standard models while still delivering the rinse, spray, and flush you expect.
If you are replacing water appliances, look for the WaterSense label at your local retailer. WaterSense is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program designed to encourage water efficiency in the United States through the use of a special label on consumer products. All products bearing the WaterSense label complete a third-party certification process that includes independent laboratory testing. WaterSense is to water appliances, what Energystar is to electrical items.
Faucet Aerators and Showerheads
Upgrading to inexpensive water-efficient faucet aerators and shower heads can reduce your home water consumption, and the associated energy cost of heating water by as much as 50 percent. Because of this, low-flow aerators and shower heads will generally pay for themselves in only a few months.
An aerator is a small, metal, sieve-like device that screws onto the tip of a faucet nozzle, and mixes air with water by separating a single flow of water into many tiny streams. Because there is less space for the water to flow through, the water flow is reduced, yet the water pressure is maintained, which is why most people don’t notice a difference in the amount of water coming out of an aerated faucet.
The amount of water coming out of an aerator is measured in gallons per minute (gpm). Standard faucet aerators tend to run at 2.2 gpm, but aerators can have flow rates of 0.5-2.5 gallons of water per minute. The gpm flow rate of the aerator is generally imprinted on the side of the device.
The variations in gpm flow allow you to choose an aerator that best serves your purpose. For maximum water efficiency, you may want to use a 0.5 to 1 gpm aerator for a bathroom sink, and a slightly higher flow of 1.5 to 2.0 gpm in a kitchen sink.
The water that flows from a showerhead is also measured in gallons per minute, and the flow rate of showers can vary from 1.5 gpm to 5 gpm, or more. The “standard” showerhead uses 2.5 gpm.
The savings in water consumption are apparent when you consider the length of time spent in the shower multiplied by the gallon per minute flow of a showerhead.
For instance, a typical 5-minute shower, using a 5 gpm non water conserving showerhead, will consume 25 gallons of water, whereas, a water conserving 1.5 gpm showerhead will only use 7.5 gallons of water.
If you are replacing the faucets in your kitchen and bath, look for WaterSense-labeled faucets, which can reduce a sink’s water flow by 30 percent or more, and will help you save money on water and energy bills.
Toilets typically consume the largest amount of water in your home, and the age of your toilet generally determines its volume of water usage.
Toilets that were manufactured after 1992, when newer plumbing standards were enacted, use 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). Toilets manufactured prior to 1992 can use anywhere from 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush.
Consider replacing an older, high water use toilet with a WaterSense-certified toilet , which use less than 1.3 gallons per flush.
Many towns have rebate programs to help defray the cost of a water-efficient toilet. Make sure to check with your local water department before making your purchase!
Also keep in mind that toilets often leak, wasting up to 200 gallons of water a day!
Sometimes you can hear the toilet water “running”, but other times it’s a silent leak. Find a leak by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank and waiting a few minutes. If any color shows up in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.
Toilet leaks are usually caused by a worn toilet flapper, an inexpensive, easy-to-replace rubber part that can be found at most hardware stores. Be sure to get a flapper designed for your toilet make and model.
Check the flushing power of any high efficiency model toilet by clicking here.
Dual Flush Toilet Conversion Kit
If you can’t afford to replace your toilet, you may want to consider installing a dual flush toilet conversion kit into your toilet tank.
A dual flush toilet provides users a choice between a full or reduced flush. Designed and patented to drop in to your toilet tank and attach to the existing flush valve, dual flush conversion kits require no tank removal, and can be completed in less than 30 minutes. Conversion kit manufacturers claim that the dual flush uses 70 percent less water than a typical toilet, using the liquid and paper flush.
The conversion kit is an inexpensive, off-the-shelf item, which is found in most hardware stores, and works with all standard flush valves.
Clothes washers are usually the second largest water user in your home. If your clothes washer is old, you might consider replacing it with a high-efficiency clothes washer. Most ENERGY STAR washers use 35 to 50 percent less water and 50 percent less energy per load than traditional washing machines.
To save even more water, look for a clothes washer with a low water factor. Water factor is a measurement of water efficiency that is calculated as gallons of water used per cubic foot of capacity
For instance, if a clothes washer uses 30 gallons per cycle and has a tub volume of 3.0 cubic feet, then the water factor is 10.0. The lower the water factor, the more efficient the clothes washer.
Look on the Energy Star website for more information: www.energystar.gov
Irrigation Moisture Sensors
Often times, lawns are over watered – or not watered enough. An irrigation moisture sensor is a device that measures the water content in soil and regulates irrigation systems based on the moisture results. The moisture sensor signals the irrigation controller to turn on the system, based on when a lawn actually needs water, as opposed to on a variable schedule. This device takes the guess work out of irrigating, and minimizes errors, such as watering during a rain storm.
Questions? Contact Outreach Director, Nancy Fyler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-575-0354 x307.