Between California’s drought-related crackdown and Earth Day 2015, homeowners are ever more mindful of the amount of water they use every day. Here are seven building products that can help cut down water use – and water bills.
By Lauren Hunter
With Earth Day upon us, and California’s recent water restriction mandate looming large, builders, remodelers, and homeowners will be looking for products to cut water use inside and outside the home. Here are seven products to help achieve goals of 25% water usage reduction for California residents, and general water savings for homeowners nationwide.
Low Flow on Tap
Since kitchen faucets are mostly used to fill pots and sinks, most manufacturers haven’t reduced their flow rates (after all, filling a pasta pot will take the same amount of water, no matter how fast it comes out of the faucet.) Still, some manufacturers, including Blanco, are addressing the flow rate issue in kitchens. The German company has recently introduced the Meridian and Sonoma professional designs, both with a water-saving 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) flow rate – a 32% reduction in water use compared to standard 2.2 GPM faucets. The flow rate exceeds requirements set forth by CalGreen, California’s green building code, while still meeting users’ everyday needs.
Clean & Clean Again
KitchenAid’s AquaSense Recycling System on the Architect Series II dishwasher helps the unit use 33% less water (compared to the maker’s most efficient model without AquaSense) without sacrificing cleaning efficiency. The AquaSense Recycling System saves water from the dishwasher’s final rinse cycle and uses it in the next load’s pre-rinse cycle. Fresh water is used to finish the cleaning cycle. The 24-inch dishwasher’s ProWash cycle to determines the appropriate setting for washing dishes and makes real-time adjustments to optimize cleaning performance, while the ProScrub option uses 40 targeted spray jets at the back of the unit to help eliminate soaking and pre-scrubbing. A quiet noise level and a 4-hour delay option make the dishwasher convenient to run at any time.
Small Load, Big Impact
Clothes washers use more than 20% of household water, according to the EPA, so making the most efficient use of that water is essential. For washing delicates, baby clothes, and other small loads, LG now offers a Mini Washer that holds about 4 pounds of laundry. The compact pedestal-style unit uses doesn’t need a separate water line and uses a fraction of the water that a full-size washer requires, but still offers all the same cycle options. The Mini Washer is coming to market this spring as part of LG’s TwinWash system but can be purchased as a standalone unit and paired with your existing washing machine.
Manufacturers have dramatically cut back the amount of water used by toilets in recent years from 3.5 gallons per flush (GPF) to 1.6, 1.28, or even 0.8 for many dual-flush models, but Niagara still has them beat. The Stealth Ultra-High-Efficiency Toilet dual-flush mechanism uses 0.5 GPF and 0.95 GPF flush options, thanks to patented hydraulic technology that helps thoroughly evacuate the bowl with every flush. With an average of 0.65 GPF and standard installation, the Stealth is an easy, water-saving replacement for existing toilets.
Storage, Not Shortage
Drought restrictions will likely gear many homeowners toward xeriscaping their outdoor living spaces – that is, using native plants with low water requirements, and more hardscaping materials. But everyone wants a little lushness in their yard, whether it’s a container garden or a small patch of turfgrass. Enter the Rainwater Pillow: a reinforced polymer pouch approved for potable water. Available in kits up to 3,000-gallon sizes, or custom sizes up to 10,000 gallons, the Rainwater Pillow can tuck discretely beneath a deck or crawlspace. Water collected from gutter downspouts is filtered before being stored in the pillow, which is outfitted with a pump for easy access to water for irrigation. Kits include the pillow, filter, pump, UV light, and all necessary fittings.
Fence In Your Water Use
Capture rainwater runoff from your roof with the WaterFence system. This simple but smart design comprises hollow polyethylene fence panels that each hold 320 gallons of water and are outfitted with spigots. Connected together as a barrier wall or full fence around a yard, the WaterFence can store thousands of gallons of rain water for on-demand irrigation. The HDPE panels have been engineered to handle the weight of the water they hold, and to withstand seismic events. Building in a wildfire zone? The maker also says the panels will not burn, and with the addition of a water pump and delivery system back to the home’s roof, WaterFence can be used as a fire suppression system with a recirculating water supply.
Gallons of Savings
Standard toilets use anywhere from 1.28 to 3.5 gallons per flush (GPF), while urinals use 1 to 2 GPF. With an average of five flushes per person per day (according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency), the men of the house can help cut a large portion of household water use by turning to a Waterless Co. No-Flush Urinal. The company’s many urinal models, including Yukon (shown), don’t have flush valves and require only a hook-up to discharge waste down sewer pipes. The maker’s EcoTrap system uses biodegradable liquids to keep sewer gasses from escaping. Waterless residential urinals are smaller in size than commercial styles, and pricing is comparable to most mid-priced toilets. Choose from vitreous china or composites, with numerous colors available for an additional fee.