Being green isn’t just about saving energy. Water is a valuable resource as well. Just ask people in Southern California and other parts of the country, where water is becoming scarce. And the situation is not likely to get better. A U.S. Government Accountability Office survey shows that 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions.
To help save precious H2O, the EPA has introduced its WaterSense program that identifies water-saving fixtures like low-flow toilets and faucets. More than 160 products that meet EPA specification bear a WaterSense logo. WaterSense toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush or less, and WaterSense faucets and aerators have a maximum flow of 1.5 gallons per minute.
WaterSense-labeled aerators can be purchased separately from bathroom sink faucets. Aerators attach to faucets and control flow rate. The EPA says using WaterSense labeled faucets or aerators could reduce a household’s faucet water use by more than 500 gallons annually.
In addition, over 400 irrigation professionals have been trained in water-efficient design and practices and are certified as WaterSense partners.
The EPA is also starting a WaterSense program for new homes. WaterSense labeled new homes will combine WaterSense labeled products with other water-efficient fixtures and practices to reduce the amount of water used by approximately 20 percent. These new homes include dishwashers and clothes washers with the ENERGY STAR label, if those appliances are installed when the home is built. WaterSense labeled new homes will incorporate a hot water distribution system that decreases the amount of time it takes for hot water to reach the faucet or shower, as waiting for hot water wastes thousands of gallons of water per year.
Pressure regulator valves will be installed downstream of the water meter to reduce the pressure of the water going into the home. This reduces the maximum water flow from fixtures and the likelihood of leaking pipes and hoses.
Builders will have the option of developing an outdoor “water budget” and planning accordingly, or ensuring that the landscaping is designed efficiently. If the home has an outdoor irrigation system, it must be installed and audited by WaterSense irrigation partners to ensure efficiency.
The EPA is conducting an online meeting on June 18, 2008, to discuss its draft specification for WaterSense homes, and it is inviting all interested parties to provide comments until July 21, 2008.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates