Start saving today
If your house was built before 1994 and you're still
using the original plumbing fixtures, you're using 30 to
40 percent more water than a comparable new home.
Because water is cheap (about
$1.50 for 1,000 gallons) and in
most places always seems readily
available, maybe you haven't worried
about conserving it. But as clean water
gets harder to come by—36 states will suffer
some sort of shortage within the next
decade—prices will rise. Add to that the
cost of heating and sewer fees, and you
can see how thousands of wasted gallons
turns into hundreds of wasted dollars all
going down your drain.
The good news is that you can turn
down the tap without making a major ripple
in your living habits. That's because
water-wasting fixtures are easy to identify
and replace. (Use Figure A to help find the
major water wasters in your home.)
Updating the thirstiest room of your
house—your bathroom—with fixtures
like the ones shown here will not only save
water and money, but also give the room a
American Water Works Association Research Foundation,
"Residential End Uses of Water" 1999Figure A
Figure A: Where's Your Water Going?
Bathrooms use more water than any
other room in the house. More than
a quarter of all the water used in the
whole house is literally flushed down
Cost: $200 to $300
Water savings: Up to 23,000 gallons per year (for a four-person family)
Now's the time to replace that old commode. Using 3.5 to as much as
7 gallons per flush (gpf), old-style toilets are the biggest water wasters in
your home. Admittedly, poor flush performance gave first-generation
1.6-gpf toilets a bad rap, but with reengineered bowls and trapways,
the newest models flush more waste with less water. According to recent
surveys, most homeowners are as satisfied with their 1.6-gpf toilets as they
were with their older 3.5-gallon flushers.
To save even more water, check out high-efficiency toilets. These models
use 20 percent less water than the 1.6-gpf competition. Dual-flush
toilets, such as Sterling's Dual Force, are designed to
let you choose either the half (0.8 gallon) or the full
(1.6 gallon) flush option, saving you 6,000
gallons per year. Alternatively, pressure-assist
toilets, such as Kohler's Pressure Lite
(photo), employ an air cartridge that's
charged by the water pressure from the
supply line to push water from the tank
using just 1.1 gallons of water.
Cost: $20 to $100
Water savings: 7,800 gallons per year
Hot water savings: $90 per year (electric), $38 per year (gas)
Showerheads are not only the second
heaviest water user but also a
major energy eater. That's because
70 percent of the water flowing
through the head comes from your
water heater. By reducing water
consumption and water heating
needs, a low-flow head saves money
in two ways.
Saving water with an efficient
showerhead no longer means settling
for a drizzle instead of a downpour.
Once, “low-flow” used to
mean “not enough oomph to rinse
out the shampoo.” That's because
the showerheads were simply
choked with flow restrictors to meet
the government's 2.5 gallons
per minute (gpm) mandate.
Removing the restrictor
was an easy way to boost
shower power, but
doing so negated any
water savings. (To check
the flow of your existing
showerhead, see how long it takes
to fill a 1-gallon container. If you fill
the jug in less than 24 seconds, your
2.5-gpm fixture is using more water
than it should.) If you're using an
older single or a newer multihead
spa shower, an 8- to 10-minute
shower can use more water than a
60-gallon whirlpool tub.
To provide a satisfying
less water, today's high-efficiency
fixtures have gone high-tech.
Delta's water-efficient showerheads
(photo) change the shape
and velocity of the water stream—even the size of the drops—to
provide the high-flow feel using
just 1.6 gpm.
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Low-flow faucet aerators
Cost: $2 to $5
Water savings: Up to 1,400 gallons per year (per faucet)
How much water do you really need to wet your toothbrush or rinse
a razor? If the aerator attached to the end of your bathroom faucet
reads 2.2 gpm, you're wasting water every time you turn on that tap.
Installing a 1.5-gpm aerator on the end of the spout is a quick and
inexpensive way to cut lavatory water use by 30 percent.
Want Help Choosing Water-Efficient Fixtures?
Look for the logo WaterSense logo.
Like the Energy Star label, the
WaterSense tag is an easy way
to identify efficient products.
To earn this label, products
must use at least 20 percent less
water and still perform as well
as or better than other products
in that category. For more
info, go to epa.gov/watersense