The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the WaterSense® program in 2006 to decrease nonagricultural water use with recognizable labels making it easier to buy high-quality, water-efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances like toilets, faucets, shower heads, washing machines and dishwashers. The program encourages manufacturing innovation towards the goal of water conservation.
WaterSense® is similar to ENERGY STAR® with both programs working in market enhancement and public recognition with product and program labeling, but WaterSense requires third-party certification of compliance with the specifications. Also, WaterSense focuses on products and services water-efficiency properties. ENERGY STAR includes water products that conserve energy, but promotes energy efficiency on all products which run on energy.
The WaterSense products can be identified by the label. The website has a product search
screen where you type in the product category of Bathroom Sink Faucets/Accessories, Toilets, Flushing Urinals, Showerheads, or Irrigation Controllers and either key in specific or leave all brands and models, hit search and it lists all the certified products. There are over 5,000 in just the sink faucets category.
Consumers who switch to WaterSense products will not only save water resources for the environment, but will also save money for their budgets. For example, switching out a toilet manufactured prior to 1994 to a WaterSense toilet will decrease a family of four’s water use by 16,000 gallons per year, or about $90 saved in one year.
In addition, the environment will benefit from less energy used in treating wastewater. The EPA says that public water plants use enough electricity to power five million homes for a year. If only one percent of homes in the U.S. switched to WaterSense fixtures, that would save 100 million kWh and prevent 80,000 tons of greenhouse gases. River, lake and reservoir levels would not be dropping so rapidly and ecosystems would be healthier.
The first WaterSense-certified home was built in 2008 near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The 2,532-square-foot home built by Vanguard Homes features dual-flush toilets, low-flow bathroom sink faucets and high-efficiency shower heads, insulated hot water lines to prevent hot water from cooling in the pipes, a recirculating hot water system to decrease time needed for tap water to warm, water-efficient landscaping, and Energy Star dishwasher and washing machine.
Only new homes can be certified, although existing homes can upgrade to the WaterSense products. To be certified, the homes must have WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures;efficient hot water delivery systems; front and back yards designed to save water; Energy Star washers and dishwashers (if included); and irrigation systems designed or installed and audited by an irrigation partner (if included). A WaterSense home is independently inspected and certified to use 20 percent less water than a standard new home. The EPA estimates it will save 10,000 gallons of water yearly and at least $100 to $200 in hot water energy savings alone.
Watch the attached video on the global water challenge.