Tips for Switching to High-Efficiency Toilets, Showerheads, and Faucets

September 20, 2010 By Miriam Landman

Reducing household water use protects our vital water supplies—and it helps you save money. If one out of every 100 American homes were retrofitted with green plumbing fixtures like low-flow toilets and water saving showerheads, we would: 

  • Save 100 million kWh of electricity per year. Home water conservation saves energy, because energy is used to treat, deliver, and heat water.
  • Avoid 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s equivalent to removing nearly 15,000 cars from the road for one year.

Upgrading to more efficient fixtures will reduce both your water bill and energy bill, and you may receive rebates and incentives to make the switch, too.

The latest ultra low-flow fixtures on the market conserve more water than the previous generation—without compromising performance. Look for EPA WaterSense-labeled products when you’re shopping for toilets, showerheads, and faucets.

Low-Flow Toilets

Home water conservation begins in the bathroom.  Replace any water-guzzling pre-1994 toilets in your home with models using no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf).

Even better, look for high-efficiency toilets like these: 

  • Ultra low-flow toilets meet the WaterSense standard of 1.3 gpf. Go to the EPA website for information on WaterSense-labeled toilets.
  • Dual flush toilets, common in Europe, have an ultra low-flush button for liquid waste that uses 0.8-1.1 gpf and a low-flush button for solid waste that uses 1.3-1.6 gpf.
  • Pressure-assist toilets use only 0.8 to 1.0 gpf (they are more often used in commercial buildings than in homes).
  • Composting toilets require very little to no flushing water and could be practical in some settings. 

Check with your water utility and city to see if rebates are available for low-flow toilets.

For additional information on low-flow toilets, see GreenHomeGuide’s “5 Tips for Choosing a Low-Flow Toilet.”

Water Saving Showerheads

Switching to a low-flow showerhead is easy to do and can cut your shower water use by as much as 70 percent. But this is not just about saving water: you’ll also save money on your energy bills by reducing the demand on your water heater.

Points to consider:

  • Old showerheads can use 5 gallons per minute (gpm) or more. The current federal standard for low-flow showerheads sets a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gpm.
  • Some WaterSense-labeled high-efficiency showerheads use no more than 2.0 gpm and still give you a good, strong shower stream.

Go to the EPA website for more information on WaterSense-labeled showerheads, and see this list of showerheads recommended by architect Kristina Hahn Atelier in her Ask A Pro Q&A "Can you recommend a good low flow showerhead?"

Saving Water with Sink Faucets

You can save water by replacing your old bathroom faucets with green plumbing fixtures that meet the current federal low-flow standard of 2.5 gpm. Even better are ultra low-flow WaterSense-labeled faucets with flow rates of no more than 1.5 gpm.

Another option: just add an aerator or flow restrictor. This simple and inexpensive modification will save a significant amount of water.

Go to the EPA website for information on WaterSense-labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories. 

Other Water Saving Tips

Here are some ways to continue your home water conservation efforts and cut your water and energy costs.


 

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