Efficient Bathroom Fixtures: Low-Flow Showerheads, Toilets and Faucets

Today’s efficient faucets, showerheads and toilets blow older models out of the water.

| September/October 2011

  • Kohler Insight 0.5 gpm touchless faucet
    Photo Courtesy Kohler

Bathroom fixtures have come a long way in the past couple of decades. Even a few years ago, most toilets used around 3.5 gallons of water each flush. Today’s high-efficiency models go as low as .8 gallons a flush, saving thousands of gallons of water. As water becomes an increasingly precious resource (at least 36 U.S. states will face water shortages by 2013), conserving it makes a bigger impact on our global community, and it is starting to pay off more in our pocketbooks.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Program website offers tons of information and resources on water-efficient appliances. By following their ratings, you’re certain to find the best options on the market.

Fair Faucet 

Faucets account for more than 15 percent of indoor household water use, so reducing their flow (by up to 30 percent) with WaterSense-labeled products will amount to a deluge of savings. WaterSense estimates the United States could save more than $350 million in water utility bills, $600 million in energy costs for heating water, and 60 billion gallons of water each year if we all installed efficient faucets or accessories. Good news for those of us with older faucets: You can achieve the same water savings with very inexpensive faucet aerators, which attach to any sink.

Shower Power 

Before 1992, showerhead flow rates were as high as 5.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Today, federal regulation mandates that flow rates don’t exceed 2.5 gpm at 80 psi (pounds per square inch, the standard measure of water pressure). WaterSense showerheads use less than 2 gpm. WaterSense estimates that the average household could save more than 2,300 gallons a year by installing a WaterSense-labeled showerhead—which would save more than 250 billion gallons of water annually in the United States. Replacing showerheads offers the added bonus of reducing hot water use, which means big energy savings, as well.

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