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.
IMPORTANT: Check with your local water department before purchasing water efficient toilets or appliances to see if they offer a rebate.
When 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.
The least expensive way to start conserving water is by updating 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 “standard” showerhead uses 2.5 gpm and can vary from 1.5 gpm to 5 gpm, or more.
The savings in water consumption (and the energyto heat the water) become apparent when you consider the length of time spent in the shower multiplied by the gallon per minute flow of a showerhead.
WaterSense-labeled faucets can reduce a sink’s water flow by 30 percent or more.
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.
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 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 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. When replacing this item, be sure to chose a high-efficiency clothes washer for maximum water conservation.
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. 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.