Climate change and overpopulation make water a valuable resource. Urban residents in developed countries may not travel miles to find their daily water supply, but today’s developers design new homes that include high-efficiency bathrooms. Since the U.S. EPA says high-efficiency fixtures save over $18 million annually, it makes sense to consider high-efficiency replacements for older faucets, toilets and shower heads. Cosmetic upgrades are a great way to refresh a bathroom, but improved water conservation means limiting your purchases to items that meet specific standards. Using specific flow rates, homeowners can lower their water consumption while saving money.
Faucets and Shower Heads
A fixture’s efficiency is based on its flow rate, the speed with which water runs out of the fixture. Measured in gallons per minute (gpm). Older, less efficient faucets can use 2.5 gallons of water, or more, per minute but high-efficiency faucets can cut this flow rate to 1.5 gpm. A new faucet can add style and modern features, but you can also add aerators and flow restrictors to your existing faucets. In addition to replacing and adding upgrades to fixtures, running water for only as long as is necessary helps. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth, soaping your hands and face, and while shaving.
Showers make up 20 percent of the water an average home uses indoors, but high-efficiency shower heads can cut this usage by 70 percent. As is true with older faucets, old shower heads can use over 2.5 gpm. Luxury, pie-plate-sized heads can use 20 gallons per minute, though. High-efficiency shower heads use 2 gpm or less. You can save even more water by taking shorter showers or showering every other day, when possible.
Toilets may offer the widest range of high efficiency choices. There are ultra-low-flow toilets that use 1.28 gallons per flush. Popular in European countries and Australia, dual-flush models let users choose how much water to use with each flush. These toilets have two buttons, one for lower-flush or liquids and another for a higher-flush or solids. Dual-flush toilets, but serious conservationists can opt for a composting toilet that may use little or no water. To make an older toilet more efficient, put a sealed bottle of water or a brick in the tank. Doing so makes the tank fill faster while using less water. All high-efficiency bathroom fixtures carry labels to help you choose the perfect replacement fixtures.