From eco-shower heads to water thrifty toilets, the latest generation of water-efficient technology can lower your water bill while enhancing the quality and comfort of your life.
Even if environmental efficiency isn’t your first priority when purchasing household appliances, water-saving models are still the best buy. Beyond cost savings, as new water-saving technologies are developed, innovative new features and functions spring up. For the home buyer, new water-efficient technologies mean shower heads that turn your bathroom into a sauna, washing machines that iron your clothes and toilets that clean themselves.
The average American uses 580 liters of water a day, 3.5 times more than the average British person. The largest percentage of water (about 30%) is used watering the plush green lawns that adorn American homes. Within the home, flushing the toilet (26.7%) and washing clothes (21.7%) make up almost half of water usage.
Saving water isn’t only good for the environment, it can cut your water bill in half. Here's what the green consumer needs to know when buying water-efficient technologies and some innovative features you won’t want to live without once you try them. Check out our energy guide for more information on energy savings - including water bills.
Eco Shower Heads
The debate over whether the bather or shower taker is the water hog has been settled. A shower uses 10–25 gallons of water while a bath uses a titanic 70 gallons, according to the EPA. Nonetheless, the average shower head is so inefficient that an upgrade to a more water-efficient one could further lower your bills.
Shower head efficiency is measured by the flow rate - the water flow measured in gallons per minute (GPM). A WaterSense® certified shower head requires a flow rate of 2.5 GPM. Many eco shower heads on the market today have a flow rate of 2, while 1.5 is becoming standard among the most efficient water savers. With advances in pressurized technology, flow rates are falling without sacrificing water pressure.
Using one the most efficient shower heads (0.75 flow rate), over the course of a year taking one, five-minute shower a day, you could save equivalent to the cost of heating the average home for 12 days, or about $90. In a multi-family dwelling, the savings would be substantial. These more efficient shower heads require fewer kilowatt hours of energy from your water heater, adding to the energy and cost savings.
With models such as the Tri-Max Water Saving and Niagara Conservation shower heads, you can decide how much water to save by choosing between 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 GPM. Nebia Spa Shower, with a flow rate of 0.75, has proven that comfort does not have to be compromised.
The shower head produces a water surface 10 times greater than the average shower head by atomizing water into millions of micro-drops, while using up to 70% less water. The atomized water creates a rejuvenating side effect; the bathroom becomes a hydrating spa-like environment.
Not too long ago, a five-star hotel opening in Paris would not have been featuring toilets among its many amenities. Today this hotel realizes that its upwardly mobile clients are greening consumers who appreciate that its featured TOTO toilet only takes one gallon of water to flush.
Pre-1990 toilet models can take 3.5 - 6 gallons per flush (gpf) of water. The Federal standard is 1.6 gallons but the lower 1.2 is becoming the expectation among green consumers. Also, many recent models use significantly less water which will help lower your water bill.
For a family of five each flushing the toilet an average of 5 times per day, the 0.6-gallon difference is 25 gallons versus 40 gallons of water a day, or 5,529 more gallons of water a year - enough to fill over 100 bathtubs.
The Niagara Stealth toilet uses a thrifty 0.8 gallons per flush. Its dual flush toilet, which uses more water for solid waste than liquid disposal, is even thriftier at 0.5/0.95 GPM. The NEOREST® NX1 Dual Flush Toilet has a bowl design and cyclonic rinsing action that use the 1 gallon of water per flush more efficiently.
However, the hotel clients may be coming for the seat that warms and automatically rises and lowers, rear and front water jet streams and, to the joy of hotel staff, self-cleaning before and after use while deodorizing the air.
New 2018 energy standards improve the water use of top-load washers by 23% and energy use by 18% over initial 2015 standards, which improved water and energy efficiency by 26% and 16%, respectively. The following Energy Star certified washers use 14 gallons or less of water, whereas standard models use 20 gallons.
Two main types of energy-efficient washers are those that automatically adjust to loads to save energy and water and those that let you choose the energy savings. The washers of Asko and Zanussi (Intelligent AutoSense function) adjust the amount of water used and the length of the cycle according to the load size. The Bosch VarioPerfect function allows you to decide how much energy you want to save, with options ranging from SpeedPerfect to EcoPerfect.
Washers are also saving on hot water by employing technology with stronger cleaning action, requiring no hot water to clean clothes, even on tough stains. Samsung’s Ecobubble™ Technology mixes micro air bubbles with detergent and water to penetrate deeper and faster into fabrics while LG uses steam to deep clean.
In addition to saving on water, some of these washers can do your household chores. The Energy Star GE Smart Load Washer and Miele models inject steam to reduce wrinkles.
If you want to significantly reduce water usage and eliminate electricity, the portable, non-electric Yirego Drumi washer operates with a foot pedal. In 4.5 to 7.5 minutes, you can complete a wash/rinse/spin cycle.
WaterSense® standards require faucets to use 20% less water than standard models. Low flow faucets have a flow rate of 1.5 gallons or less, reducing water flow by up to 30 percent compared to 2.5 flow rate models. Stylish low flow faucets that meet WaterSense criteria are available from most major brands, including Kohler, Grohe, and Pioneer. Another option is to attach an aerator to your existing faucet. A 1 GPM faucet can save up to 55 percent and a 0.5 GPM faucet 77% on water usage.
Higher efficiency appliances may cost more but they quickly earn their keep through water and energy savings.