What do you think of when you hear “green home?” For most people, it’s energy efficiency. For others, it’s eco-friendly building materials.
Unless you live in a severely drought-stressed area, water conservation is unlikely to be the first thing to come to mind.
However, most people don’t realize how much energy is burned to deliver water to your tap. The energy used to treat, distribute and use water in the United States results in equivalent CO2 emissions to 53 million cars and equates to about 5 percent of our country’s annual emissions. Especially in a world where water is becoming an increasingly precious resource, water management is a critical factor that no environmentally conscious homeowner should ignore.
70 percent of the average home’s water use happens indoors, and half of that water is consumed in the smallest room in the house — the bathroom. So it makes sense to focus water-saving efforts there first.
Here is a quick rundown of water conservation measures you can take in your bathroom:
Install an Eco-Friendly Bathroom Faucet
The current federal standard for maximum flow rate for a bathroom faucet is 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm). Choosing a water-saving faucet with a max flow rate of 1.5 gpm can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year. If everyone in the country did this, it would save enough to provide for the water needs of more than 680,000 additional homes. Water-efficient bathroom faucets are easy to find. Just look for the EPA WaterSense label.
WaterSense-labeled faucet photo courtesy of Kohler Co.
Use Lavatory Faucet Accessories
Some people worry that they won’t be able to find a WaterSense faucet that they like. This concern is becoming less relevant as manufacturers continue to expand their lines of water-saving bathroom faucets. However, if you find you have your heart set on a particular look that is simply not available in a WaterSense-approved version, there is an alternative: eco-friendly bathroom faucet accessories.
Faucet accessories are small devices that screw into the end of your faucet to reduce water use. They include aerators and various types of flow restrictors and/or pressure regulators. Many of them are engineered to reduce the flow without affecting performance.
Consider a Water-Saving Showerhead
Showering accounts for 17 percent of water used by the average household. You can reduce your shower water consumption by 20 percent without noticing the difference simply by replacing your standard showerhead with one that has been engineered to be water-efficient. Heating water accounts for almost 17 percent of total home electricity. Cutting back on hot water by switching to a water-saving shower head, will also lower your electricity bill as less hot water is needed.
Select a Low-Flow Toilet
Toilets are the biggest water hog in the house. Here again, WaterSense models can save the average family hundreds of gallons per year. The EPA estimates that installing a low-flow toilet can save you $2,200 over the lifetime of the device.
In the early days of faucet flow restrictors and low-flow toilets, it wasn’t uncommon for performance to suffer in the name of water conservation. Fortunately, we are living in the 21st century, and our engineers have had decades to solve the issue. Those who think low-flow fixtures won’t do an adequate job are typically pleasantly surprised when they try the new WaterSense-approved products.
For instance, in addition to a maximum flow rate on WaterSense faucets, a minimum flow rate of .8 gpm also has been established to ensure user satisfaction even in areas with low water pressure. In fact, each WaterSense-labeled product is third-party licensed to ensure adequate performance as well as efficiency. Chances are your family will never notice the difference — except on your utility bill.
Author bio: Erica Garland is Content Marketing Manager at Modern Bathroom, and has 15 years of experience in the bathroom renovation industry. Modern Bathroom sells a variety of products needed for any bathroom renovation project. With such a large selection of vanities, faucets, sinks, toilets and showers, Modern Bathroom is sure to have the perfect piece to give your bathroom an updated look.