A Sixth Sense for Water Savings: New WaterSense labeling makes it easy to shop for water-wise fixtures

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The folks who brought EnergyStar labeling to the world of electrical appliances have now made it just as easy to shop for water-wise fixtures. This year marks the debut of the WaterSense label, the result of an EPA effort to designate products and services made for water conservation.
In the same manner as that now-famous EnergyStar logo, the WaterSense label tells you a product will conserve more water and perform more efficiently than

The folks who brought EnergyStar labeling to the world of electrical appliances have now made it just as easy to shop for water-wise fixtures. This year marks the debut of the WaterSense label, the result of an EPA effort to designate products and services made for water conservation.

In the same manner as that now-famous EnergyStar logo, the WaterSense label tells you a product will conserve more water and perform more efficiently than one without it. To earn the WaterSense mark, products are tested to meet stringent guidelines determined by the EPA with involvement from water utilities, manufacturers, and test labs, leading to solutions that are beneficial to everyone, including Mother Earth.

So where can you find these water-saving wonders? Watch your favorite home center or fixtures dealer for high-efficiency toilets (HETs), the first WaterSense-labeled products to hit the market this year. A great improvement over the previous dual-flush and low-volume models, HETs cut down on the current standard maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) by 20 percent to 1.28 gpf. In case this doesn’t strike you as a dramatic savings, consider that pre-1994 model you’ve got somewhere in your house, flushing away 3.5 gallons of water at a time. With a family of four in residence, that toilet is using around 26,000 gallons of water every year, and replacing it with one of the new WaterSense HETs could reduce water usage by 60 percent and save you at least $55 annually in water bills -- enough for the HET to pay for itself within a few years!

In other WaterSense-qualifying features, HETs must be able to flush away a minimum of 350 grams of soybean paste (you get the idea) and include a flush valve flapper or seal on the flush with the test-proven chemical resistance to ensure that exposure to chlorine and hard water won’t lead to leaks over time. The overall design presents flush volume from being adjusted by the consumer either on purpose or inadvertently (through replacement of tank components), and though the hydraulics differ from traditional toilets, they allow for a very similar installation process. Independent tests have also determined that HETs don’t cause dreaded drain-line-clogging issues.

More WaterSense products are on the way, with bathroom faucets and irrigation system components currently in testing, so we can all look forward to an abundance of ways to conserve dollars and natural resources. For more WaterSense information, product news and a peek at the soon-to-be-familiar logo, click over to the WaterSense site.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program's Web site.

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