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To find water-wise fixtures, look for the WaterSense label. WaterSense, a partnership program with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is an independent organization that reviews plumbing fixtures for water efficiency (among many other jobs). Their certification, or approval, is given to fixtures that are at least 20 percent more efficient without compromising performance. The average bathroom makeover with WaterSense fixtures saves 7,000 gallons of water annually. That's enough water to wash six months worth of laundry.
Bathroom faucets. Getting a faucet with the WaterSense can reduce your sink's water flow by up to 30 percent. Doing so will save the average home 500 gallons of water annually. You can also add an aerator to bathroom taps. An aerator decreases water flow while maintaining or even increasing water pressure by mixing water with air.
And regardless of how much water comes out of your tap, don't forget to turn off the faucet while shaving or brushing teeth.
Dual-flush toilets. Toilets consume far more water than any other indoor fixture, accounting for 30 percent of most homes' indoor water use. Dual-flush toilets, increasingly common in homes, are an easy way to cut water use without compromising effectiveness. A dual-flush toilet differs from standard models with two flush options: one for liquid waste, which uses less than a gallon of water, and a second for solid waste.
Composting toilets. Composting toilets, which use little or no water, are ready for the mainstream with smart systems that can look like conventional toilets (save for missing the water tank). Manufacturers like Clivus Multrum and Sun-Mar offer centralized systems that have remote tanks for the waste. The tanks can be sized so that minimal attention is required.
Bidets. The U.S. is known for a love of being uberclean, so it's surprising that we haven't embraced bidets, as they offer a cleanliness we can't get with toilet paper. Beyond cleanliness, bidets save water, because making toilet paper is an incredibly water-intensive process. And some bidet users increase their shower intervals, saving more water still.
Graywater reuse. It's a little crazy that we use potable drinking water to flush our toilets. Aqus is a simple system that routes used sink water (graywater) through a filter and disinfectant and into any nearby toilet tank for use in flushing. Being water smart couldn't be easier.
Urinals. Residential urinals can make your lavatory fun for boys while conserving water. Some manufacturers, including Kohler, offer waterless urinals for even greater water savings.
Showerheads. You don't have to give up a luxe shower experience to save water. Feel virtuous when lathering up with a WaterSense-certified shower head. WaterSense understands that no one wants a wimpy shower spray, so all their approved fixtures tout a "satisfactory shower that is equal to or better than conventional showerheads on the market" while using just 2 gallons of water per minute.
Showers typically use less water than baths, as long as they're kept brief. A timer can help you keep an eye on how long you've been lathering up.
Bathtubs. There's nothing like a long, luxurious bath. That luxury takes a lot of water — roughly 50 to 70 gallons per bath. Being water wise doesn't have to mean giving up your long soak. When remodeling or building, look for smaller tubs with a capacity of less than 60 gallons. Also, when you're just looking for a quick clean, you'd be more water smart to jump in the shower, where you'll use about half the water.
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