Be Water-Conscious

Today, a family of four uses roughly 400 gallons of water each day. A total of 408 billion gallons is used across the United States each day. From 1950 to 2000, the U.S. population rose 200 percent but water demand rose 300 percent. Now, 36 states project shortages by 2013. With pressure on water supplies, it’s remarkable that a third of U.S. household water (7 billion gallons each day) is used in landscaping, pools and for washing cars.

Water is not only getting more scarce, it’s getting more expensive. U.S. households spent around $500 per year on water and sewer bills. By installing simple water-saving devices, homes could save 3 trillion gallons and $18 billion every year ($170 savings per household). That would also avoid 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of taking 15,000 automobiles a year off the road. Indeed, if just 1 percent of households replaces high-flush toilets with WaterSense-rated products, the savings would be 38 million kWh per year.

With increased attention to water savings, water purity has become an issue as well. Water filters come in two general classes: point-of-use and point-of-entry. Both types should have prefilters for sand and sediment. Here are a few suggestions for filter selection:

  • Activated carbon filters are good choices for removing VOCs, chlorine/trihalomethane and radon.
  • Kinetic degradation fluxion filters are good for removing chlorine, lead, mercury, iron and hydrogen sulfide.
  • Reverse osmosis filters are good for removing asbestos, salts, metals, lead and nitrate.
  • Hollow fiber ultrafiltration filters are good for removing bacteria, viruses and parasites.
  • Ultraviolet light filtration systems can destroy all but 1 percent of bacteria, viruses, molds and cysts.

When buying filters, look for certification labels from Underwriters Laboratories, National Sanitation Foundation or Water Quality Association.

WaterSense is a new program from the Environmental Protection Agency, the same agency that gave us Energy Star. WaterSense products are at least 20 percent more water-efficient than similar products on the market.

The key to saving water is using less, and to help that effort, following are some water-saving products you can easily spec and install on your jobs today.

High-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gpf or less as opposed to 3.5 gpf.

Low-flow aerators reduce faucet flow to 1.5 gpm, as opposed to 3 to 5 gpm.

Low-flow showerheads reduce the flow to 2.0 gpm or less. By replacing a standard 4.5-gpm showerhead, a family of four can save approximately 25,000 gallons of water per year.

For more information and a product listing, visit EPA.gov/watersense.

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