Green for less: Eco-friendly water-saving solutions save money and the environment

shower headNo matter the size of your household, you're probably flushing and washing away far more water than you need to. But as utility prices and seasonal water needs climb while drought thresholds fall, the EPA is giving both you and Mother Earth a break with a relatively new WaterSense labeling program that signals super-water-saving eco-friendly solutions.

WaterSense is basically the same as the Energy Star labeling program for appliances and electronics. By making just a few WaterSense-approved changes in your home, you can cut around $170 from the typical annual $500 water bill. By choosing WaterSense fixtures, you can expect a household water savings of 30 percent or more.

WaterSense labeled fixtures include:

High-efficiency toilets (HETs): These operate at 1.28 gallons per flush versus the 3.5 gpf of older, inefficient models, and can reduce water usage by as much as 60 percent.

Bathroom sink faucets: Faucets and accessories such as faucet aerators can reduce standard flow by more than 30 percent without sacrificing performance. You don't have to sacrifice style, either: Moen offers many WaterSense-certified bathroom faucets, including those in the Rothbury and Muirfield collections.

Water-saving showerheads: Showers are the third-largest source of household water waste, and since trimming the family shower schedule is pretty much impossible, installing a water-saving showerhead is the best way to keep from getting soaked by high water bills.

For an ideal combination of performance and water savings, American Standard offers a collection of FloWise showerheads featuring a three-function model that offers a turbine spray at 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm), combination spray for a 2.0 gpm maximum flow rate and a regular spray, providing an overall water savings range of 20 to 40 percent. The three-function showerhead also includes a unique auto-return feature, with which the showerhead defaults to the 1.5 gpm ultra-water-saving mode after use.

As the EPA continues to develop solutions that help you save money and live comfortably while conserving a precious natural resource, WaterSense labeling will clearly be a big help in differentiating products that work well and save water from those that can give both you and the environment a soaking.

Tom Kraeutler is the AOL'S Home Improvement Editor and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers green home improvement tips each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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