Feature Articles - Housing
WaterSense: Making every drop count
Rebecca Blocker, MS, HHS, Housing and Environmental Design Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
You can save water and energy, help the environment and keep money in your pocket with a few simple changes to use water more efficiently. WaterSense — an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply — estimates the average American household spends up to $500 per year on water and sewer bills. A few easy changes could save you about $170 per year.
One of the easiest ways to save water is to install water-efficient products. The EPA WaterSense label helps you select water-efficient faucets, showerheads and toilets that are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well as, or better than, less efficient products.
WaterSense offers the following facts and simple steps to help you
start saving water. It’s as easy as check, twist and replace.
- Check for leaks. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water a day. To check if your toilet has a leak, place a drop of food coloring in the tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing the leak may be as simple as replacing the toilet’s flapper.
- Twist on a WaterSense-labeled bathroom faucet aerator to use 30 percent less water without a noticeable difference in flow.
- Replace a showerhead with a WaterSense-labeled model that uses 20 percent less water, but provides strong flow and spray. In a year, you could save more than 2,300 gallons and up to 300 kilowatt hours on water heating. If every U.S. household installed WaterSense showerheads, in one year we could save more than 250 billion gallons of water and about $2.5 billion in energy costs for heating the water.
Benefits of water efficiency:
- Save money: If every household installed WaterSense faucets, showerheads and toilets, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion dollars a year by reducing the need for costly water infrastructure and treatment plants.
- Save energy: It takes energy to heat water, but it also takes a great deal of energy to treat and deliver water to U.S. households — enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes for a year.
- Help the environment: If one in every 100 American homes replaced old fixtures with energy-efficient ones, the savings of 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year would save 80,000 tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent to removing 15,000 cars from the road for a year.
Tips to save water and money:
- Don’t flush your money down the drain! Toilets use the most water in the home. If your toilet was made before 1992, it probably uses at least 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. WaterSense toilets use less than 1.28 gallons per flush and can save a family of four more than $90 annually on their water bill. If every American home with older toilets replaced them with WaterSense labeled toilets, we could save nearly 640 billion gallons of water per year.
- Small leaks add up quickly. A faucet leak of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year. An average home wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water a year because of dripping faucets and other household leaks, enough to fill a backyard swimming pool.
- Turn it off! The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth to save up to 8 gallons per day or 240 gallons of water a month.
To learn how much water you can save by installing WaterSense products, try out the water savings calculator on the EPA website.
Last update: Monday, April 20, 2015