Water

Conservation:

Preserving the Pond

Dishwashers

Washing Machines

Low-Flow Fixtures

Faucets

Reclaimed Water

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CONSERVATION

WATER

Have you ever considered how much water is simply

wasted in your home? Have you ever thought about how much water could be conserved just by using efficient washing machines and dishwashers? Most people take water for granted in the United States. As a country, we have had the luxury of enjoying all the fresh water we needed until recently. Drought conditions over the last 5 years have changed the freewheeling assumption that fresh, clean water will always be available.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.” As consumers, we have been drinking, washing, and running out the water in our pond. Did you know that the average family washes at least 300 loads of laundry annually? There are faucets that can reduce water consumption by as much as 30%. Toilets account for as much as 30% of the total water use in the home, but low flow toilets reduce water use by 20%.

Just replacing old bathroom faucets with new EPA WaterSense-labeled ones can lower water consumption by at least 700 gallons. When you add up the gallons of water that can be saved by using efficient appliances and fixtures, the total is in the thousands. You stop wasting water, lower your water bill, and get the bonus of contributing to energy conservation.

This section reviews available appliances, fixtures, faucets, and systems that can help you conserve water. We hope that after reading through it, you will never view the water in your pond the same way again.

Dishwashers

What is it?

The dishwasher can account for as much as 1% of the total water used in your home.You can conserve energy and water in two ways. First, you can use energy and conservation measures such as only running the unit with a full load or hand-drying dishes after they have gone through the wash cycle. Running a full load of dishes in the dishwasher can save up to 35% of water that would be used for hand- washing. The second option is to purchase an ENERGY STAR dishwasher, which can reduce water consumption by 1,300 gallons over the unit’s lifetime.

Why do it?

Environmental Qualities

Conserves water resources by reducing the amount of water needed to run a dish load, in turn reducing the amount of water that goes to a municipal treatment plant

Reduces energy consumption at home through increasing efficiency, less appliance use and reduced water heating

Reduces energy consumption at the municipal treatment plant due to less demand for water pumping

Reduces greenhouse gases and other pollutants generated by electricity production

Protects water resources by lowering consumer water requirements

Pros:

Lower utility bills

Reduces dishwasher supply costs because fewer loads are washed

Longer lifespan of dishwasher due to larger and less frequent loads

Newer units clean dishes more efficiently and effectively

Cons:

ENERGY STAR dishwashers require more upfront investment

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Maintenance:

Dishwashers need very little maintenance, but water hoses and rubber door gaskets should be checked regularly to ensure there are no leaks or cracks. It is important to repair water leaks as soon as they occur. The inside of the dishwasher should always be kept clean and free of food debris.

Timeline:

You can research and purchase an ENERGY STAR dishwasher in a few hours; it can usually be delivered the same day. Developing habits that promote water and energy savings can save resources because fewer dish loads are washed.

Steps:

1.Shop for dishwashers that have an ENERGY STAR label, making sure the energy savings will offset any premium cost for the units within a reasonable amount of time.

2.Check for rebates and incentives for various ENERGY STAR models.

3.Compare energy- and water-consumption efficiencies of different units as indicated on the EnergyGuide label.

4.Select the largest dishwasher you can fit in the available space that has features, such as soil sensors, air dry and temperature options and load types, which conserve energy and water and enable you to adjust wash and dry cycles to fit needs while minimizing resource use.

5.Read the manufacturer’s instructions before installing the dishwasher. If you’re unable to install it yourself, ask the retailer for assistance or call a reputable plumber or appliance service. Develop habits that support natural resource conservation.

Cost Estimator:

ENERGY STAR dishwashers may cost a little more than conventional models, but they are 25% more efficient than minimum federal standards. Therefore, water and energy savings offset the cost premium in a short period of time.

Quick Tips:

✓✓New features include soil sensors, more efficient water jets, and improved water filtration.

✓✓New dish rack designs allow placement of dishes and pots and pans for maximizing cleaning using the least amount of water.

✓✓Automatic dishwashing conserves more water than hand washing, but hand- or air- drying conserves more energy than drying loads in the dishwasher.

✓✓The ENERGY STAR savings calculator can help you estimate energy savings based on use, local electric and water rates, and type of energy used during water heating.

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Washing

Machines

What is it?

Washing machines are expensive to operate because they use a lot of water and energy. If hot water is used, approximately 90% of the energy is used to heat the water. Energy and water consumption can be lowered in two ways. First, older, inefficient units can be replaced with ENERGY STAR washing machines, which use 35% less water and 20% less energy than standard washers. They are also designed with features that reduce water use, such as sensors to monitor incoming water levels and high-pressure spray rinsing. An ENERGY STAR washing machine uses 15 gallons per load compared to 23 gallons per load for conventional units. Another way to lower energy and water consumption is to develop eco- friendly habits, such as only running the washer when there is a full load and using the cold-water cycle as much as possible.

Why do it?

Environmental Qualities

Conserves water resources

Reduces energy consumption

Reduces greenhouse gases generated by electricity production

Pros:

Lowers utility bills

Reduces laundry supply costs because fewer loads are washed

Increases life of washer due to larger and less frequent loads

Increases life of clothes because faster spin cycle extracts more water and reduces dryer time and clothes are not twisted and pulled like in standard models

Over time, savings accrued by using an ENERGY STAR washer will pay for an energy-efficient dryer

Cons:

Expensive to invest in a new washing machine

Most efficient washers are front-loading, so must be able to bend down to load clothes

Maintenance:

Washing machines need very little maintenance. It is important to make sure the water line connections and hoses are in good

condition, and water leaks should be repaired as soon as they are discovered. Also, if the manufacturer recommends it, run a normal cycle once a month using only water and 1 cup of bleach to reduce chances of mildew or mold forming.

Timeline:

You can research and purchase an ENERGY STAR washing machine in a few hours; it may be delivered and installed on the same day.

Steps:

1.Determine the washer size that will manage a typical load of household clothes and fits in the space allowed.

2.Identify preferred features.

3.Look for ENERGY STAR washing machines and choose one with a low Water Factor (WF)—the measure of gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of capacity—and a high Modified Energy Factor (MEF)—the measure of the energy used for heating water and the energy used by the washer.

4.Read the EnergyGuide label, compare energy use by model, and figure the annual operating costs.

5.Read the manufacturer’s instructions before installing the machine. If you’re unable to install it yourself, ask the retailer for assistance or call a reputable plumber.

6.Develop habits that promote water and energy savings.

Cost Estimator:

The MSRP for a small ENERGY STAR washing machine (2.5 cubic feet or less) is $550+. The cost of operation is $51–$78.

The MSRP for a large ENERGY STAR washing machine (2.5 cubic feet or more) is $700+. The annual cost of operation is $80–$90.

Quick Tips:

✓✓An ENERGY STAR washer saves an average of $30 annually in utility bills

✓✓Use only High-Efficiency (HE) detergent (otherwise your washer will not clean properly and may malfunction)

✓✓Leave front-loading washer doors open until seal dries to prevent mold from forming

✓✓Look for rebates and incentives when purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances

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Low-Flow

Fixtures

What is it?

Low-flow fixtures in the home can significantly lower water usage. Fixtures include toilets, urinals, and showerheads. In a typical home, outdoor irrigation consumes the most water, followed by toilets. Toilets installed before 1992 can be replaced with low-flush models, reducing water consumption from 3.5–7 gallons per flush (GPF) to 1.6. High efficiency toilets (HETs) consume only 1.2 GPF, and dual HETs use 0.8 gallons for liquid flushing and 1.6 gallons for solid waste flushing. Ultra- low-flow toilets are gravity- or pressure- assisted and use 0.8 to 1.6 GPF. New urinal designs use less than 1 GPF compared to 2 GPF for older designs. Low-flow showerheads include laminar- flow (individual streams of water), atomizer (misty spray), pulsating (short water bursts), and aerator (mixes air and water to maintain pressure). Water-efficient showerheads should have a flow that is less than 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). Aerator showerheads have flow rates of 1.0 GPM.

Why do it?

Environmental Qualities

Reduces water consumption

Reduces sewage volume, leading to reduced energy consumption

Reduces amount of wastewater treatment needed, which lowers energy consumption and extends the life of the municipal plant

Reduces use of water chemical treatments

Pros:

Lowers water expenses by 25–60 %

Lowers sewage expenses

Reduces fixture maintenance costs

Cons:

Depending on design, some low-flow fixtures are more expensive than conventional ones

Expensive to replace existing fixtures

Maintenance:

Maintenance includes keeping the fixtures clean and making sure they do not leak or drip through water dispensing devices, or around gaskets or valves.

Timeline:

It would take the average homeowner 1-2 days to replace all toilets and showerheads. A professional contractor could complete the job in 1 day.

Steps:

1.Make a list of all fixtures in the house needing replacement.

2.Research products on EPA WaterSense website checking for warranty, performance rating, water consumption rates, quality, etc.

3.Purchase low-flow fixtures.

4.In most cases, installing low-flow fixtures is the same as installing standard fixtures. Before attempting installation, you should be familiar with basic plumbing and have the right tools on hand. If you’re uncomfortable performing the installation yourself, ask the retailer for assistance or contact a reputable plumber.

5.Establish a routine maintenance schedule.

Cost Estimator:

Low-flush toilets and urinals cost $100-$1,000 each

Low-flow showerheads cost $10 and up

Quick Tips:

✓✓Replace the most frequently used older fixtures first with low-flow products

✓✓Fixture performance is measured by how well a single flush removes waste

✓✓A higher cost does not guarantee better fixture performance

✓✓Make sure the toilet shape and size is appropriate for the space available

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Faucets

What is it?

Water-efficient faucets are environmentally friendly and reduce utility expenses. You can choose from several different designs. Low-flow aerator faucets—one of the most popular home faucet designs— use air flow pressure regulators to mix air and water and reduce the amount of water flowing, while continuing to maintain the water flow pressure. Self-closing faucets shut off automatically after a certain amount of time. Metered (or metering) faucets shut off the water after a certain amount of it has flowed from the tap. Infrared faucets are hands-free and contain a motion sensor. There are also foot-activated faucets that require pushing a pedal to turn water on. The EPA WaterSense label is a good consumer guide for selecting water-efficient bathroom faucets. The simplest method of water conservation is installing an aerator, which simply screws onto the tap and shapes the water stream coming out of the faucet, reducing faucet noise.

Why do it?

Environmental Qualities

Reduces water consumption

Reduces amount of wastewater treatment needed, which lowers energy consumption and extends the life of the municipal plant

Reduces use of water chemical treatments

Pros:

Lowers water expenses by 25–60%

Reduces fixture maintenance costs since less water flows through faucets

Lowers water heating expenses

Cons:

Depending on the design, some faucets are more expensive than conventional fixtures

Cost of replacing existing fixtures can be high

Maintenance:

A dripping faucet can waste as much as 2,700 gallons annually. It is important to check regularly for water leaks around valves, gaskets, and water lines. Fixtures need to be kept clean. Keep

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aerators free of mineral deposits for smooth water flow, and replace them periodically.

Timeline:

It only takes a few minutes to screw aerators onto existing faucet taps. If installing new faucets throughout the house, you can complete the project in 1-2 days. A professional plumber can install new faucets in 1 day.

Steps:

1.Make a list of all faucets in the house needing replacements or aerators installed.

2.Research bathroom faucet products on EPA WaterSense website, checking for warranty, performance rating, water consumption rates, quality, etc.

3.Purchase low-flow faucets and/or aerators.

4.In most cases, installing low-flow faucets is the same as installing standard faucets. Before attempting installation, you should be familiar with basic plumbing and have the right tools on hand. If you aren’t comfortable performing the installation yourself, ask the retailer for assistance or contact a professional plumber.

5.Establish a routine maintenance schedule.

Cost Estimator:

Faucet aerators: $3+

Low-flow faucets: $50+

Self-closing faucets: $50+

Metered/Metering faucets: $70+

Infrared/Hands-free faucets: $100+

WaterSense bathroom faucets: $30-$500

Quick Tips:

✓✓WaterSense currently does not certify kitchen faucets.

✓✓A screw-on faucet aerator is inexpensive, effectively reduces water use, and does not require a faucet replacement.

✓✓Low-flow faucet aerators can range from 0.5 to 2.2 gallons per minute.

✓✓Always turn the water off when not using it, i.e. while shaving or brushing your teeth.

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Reclaimed

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Water or

 

Greywater

 

What is it?

Reclaimed water is domestic- or commercial-use water that has been collected and treated so it can be reused for certain purposes such as irrigation. Greywater is untreated wastewater from bathtubs and showers, sinks not used for food preparation or disposal, and washing machines (excluding loads for cleaning items like diapers). This water accounts for as much as 30% of all indoor water use. Where state and local codes allow, greywater can be reused for flushing toilets, landscape irrigation, and outdoor cleaning projects. Reclaiming water can reduce the consumption of municipal water, saving natural resources and money. Each person generates approximately 25 gallons of greywater on a daily basis. It is estimated that greywater irrigation alone can save over 80,000 gallons of water annually for a family of four.

Why do it?

Environmental Qualities

Reduces municipal water consumption, lowering energy consumption and reducing amount of chemical treatment

Conserves groundwater and local watersheds

Pros:

Lowers water bills

Since reclaimed or greywater is used close to the source, an expensive distribution system is not needed

Makes water available even during a drought

Natural soil and rock filtering removes greywater bacteria and contaminants during irrigation

Cons:

May collect unnecessary water during winter seasons, thus overloading treatment and storage units

Installing or retrofitting a system is more expensive than including it in new construction

Even if treated, reclaimed or greywater cannot be used as drinking water

High water efficiency fixtures and appliances will reduce water availability

Some areas restrict the use of greywater

Maintenance:

Greywater systems are simple to maintain if properly designed and installed to prevent clogging. The storage tanks and lines should be checked for leaks and the system filters should be regularly replaced.

Timeline:

The simplest greywater system is a hose connected to a water source; it only takes 15 minutes to install. The more sophisticated systems, which use pumps and branched drains, take 3–5 days to install collection units, irrigation systems and/ or toilet bowl plumbing.

Steps:

1.Read through the Greywater Action website, including the FAQs, before beginning the project. Unless you have experience with plumbing or only desire a very simple system, we suggest consulting a plumber, engineer, or other contractor who has experience with greywater systems.

2.Decide which type of water collection and/or distribution system you want to use for irrigation. You can choose from these options:

Collect shower water in buckets or run a hose from the water source; only collects about 10% of water

Install water line with a pumping system to maintain water flow

• Install water line with a fall to provide pressure; has

slow water flow so should install temporary storage tank

Cost Estimator:

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• In a branched drain, water flows from house by gravity

through a pipe and is distributed to multiple sites using

T-fittings

• A hose is connected to either a) the washing machine

outlet (hard on the washing machine pump), or b) the

washing machine pump; adjustable valves are added

and water empties into mulch basins added to plants and

trees (needs special treatment to avoid line clogging)

• Water feeds only into toilet bowls and not toilet tank to

avoid damaging flushing mechanisms and prevent back-

siphoning into fresh water supply

1. Decide if you to install settling tank to allow solids to settle to

the bottom, oil and grease to float to the top, and hot water to

cool before water is used.

2. Add gravity or pressure filters as appropriate to remove hair,

lint, particles, and other contaminants.

Quick Tips:

✓✓Untreated greywater should be used within 24 hours after collection to limit bacteria growth and odors.

✓✓A small pump can be installed for faster irrigation; a pumping station will be needed if irrigation areas are uphill from the greywater source.

✓✓If using laundry water, do not use products with fabric softeners except for softener sheets.

✓✓Greywater should only be used to irrigate below the surface and should not be allowed to reach above-ground plant parts.

✓✓Greywater can be treated with chlorine or iodine. ✓✓Don’t use greywater to irrigate food crops.

Installation cost (including materials) for a low-tech system ranges from $700 to $3,000. A fully-automated system using all greywater sources can run $5,000-$10,000. A reclaimed water system that treats collected water before reuse may cost even more.

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