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Water-Saving Bath Fixtures

Posted by Lisa Armstrong

Jul 29, 2014 4:02:00 PM

 Water Saving Bath FixturesTHE TYPICAL AMERICAN BATHROOM is a marvel of luxury and convenience, by global standards. The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a large percentage of that water is used in the bathroom. Toilets alone account for about 110 gallons of a family’s daily water budget. In January 2014, California became the first state to require low-flow toilets, showerheads and interior faucets in all buildings, but using water-saving products makes good ecologic and economic sense, even in states where it isn’t the law.

Water Sense

The EPA WaterSense Label

WaterSense, a partnership program with the EPA that began in 2006, offers a listing of water-saving products and services. Products that carry the WaterSense label are 20 percent more efficient than average products, and are tested and certified by an independent third party to make sure they meet WaterSense and EPA standards. Over 300 showerheads, 730 high efficiency toilets and 2,600 faucet or faucet accessory models have been WaterSense certified. According to the WaterSense website, “WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 487 billion gallons of water and over $8.9 billion in water and energy bills” to date. Several areas, including Portland, Oregon and Miami-Dade, Florida also offer additional savings in the form of rebates for WaterSense-labeled products.

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Efficient fixtures can help save homeowners thousands of dollars—even just installing a low-flow toilet will save a family about $2,000 over the system’s lifetime. And, according to WaterSense, an EPA partner program, if every American household installed water-saving bathroom sink faucets or accessories, we would save more than $350 million in water utility bills and over 60 billion gallons of water each year. And, since water used in bathrooms is often heated, saving water saves energy, as well.

Early iterations of low-flow showerheads and miserly toilets came with a cost: they often didn’t perform as well as their conventional counterparts. But manufacturers have steadily improved the technology so that their products use smaller volumes of water more effectively. For example, low-flow toilets don’t simply have smaller tanks than the old water hogs; instead, they use a combination of gravity, bowl shape and size and (sometimes) air pressure to effectively flush solid waste, using 1.6 gallons of water or less. Low-flow showerheads introduce air into the system, which helps produce larger droplets with adequate pressure, even while using less water.

Another strategy is to use different volumes of water for different “jobs.” Dual-flush toilets and showerheads which allow the user to adjust the intensity of the flow with the touch of a button are good examples of this.

Finally, as greywater reuse enters public consciousness, manufacturers are responding with both new products and systems that can be retrofit; for example, there are several solutions on the market that divert and store water from the sink and use it to flush the toilet.

The efficient and innovative bath fixtures featured below present several strategies for saving water without sacrificing performance.

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  • TOTO EcoPower A typical bathroom faucet generally runs at 2 gpm, but TOTO EcoPower faucets use just 0.5 to 1.06 gpm. These faucets provide hands-free operation via an infrared sensor. A turbine built into the faucet creates an electrical current that is stored in rechargeable cells that power the faucet’s sensor system. The back-up battery is seldom used and can last up to 19 years. EcoPower faucets come in a number of modern and traditional styles, in chrome and brushed and polished nickel.

  • Delta Dryden Delta Dryden faucets are WaterSense labeled, using 32 percent less water than standard faucets, and also include a hands-free option. The square, Art Deco-inspired faucets come in five finishes, including chrome, polished nickel and bronze, and the collection includes matching showerheads and bath faucets. Touching the faucet or handle activates Touch2O Technology, which allows the user to turn the faucet on or off simply by tapping it. The faucets also have a 4-inch proximity-sensing field—Touch2O.xt Technology—so that they automatically turn on when a user approaches and shut off once the user removes his or her hands.

  • Kohler Awaken Series Introduced in 2013, these WaterSense-certified handshowers and showerheads use from 1.5 to 2.0 gpm and include three spray settings. The B90 handshower includes an “Eco-Boost” button, which allows the user to temporarily increase the flow from its default of 1.5 gpm up to 2.0 gpm. These attractive showerheads, many featuring a “bio-inspired” design, are also offered at an attractive price point.

  • Moen Arris The modern, angular Arris Eco-Performance standard showerhead and Eco-Performance 10-inch rainshower showerhead have flow rates of 2.0 gpm, 20 percent less than the industry standard of 2.5 gpm, and are WaterSense certified. The Eco-Performance showerheads also contribute toward maximizing LEED points. The Arris collection also includes a line of WaterSense-certified faucets featuring a flow rate of 1.5 gpm.

  • GROHE Rainshower Icon The GROHE Rainshower Icon hand-held showerhead has an “Eco” function: a button on the handle which, when pushed, reduces the water used for a shower by up to 40 percent. (The maximum flow rate of the showerhead is the standard 2.5 gpm.) The award-winning showerhead has a halo-shaped design and comes in a wide range of colors, from a neutral Sheer Marble to bright cherry red.

  • Noritz NRC661 This condensing-type water heater captures heat from the exhaust gas, and uses it to preheat incoming cold water as it passes through the secondary heat exchanger. It operates with an Energy Factor of 0.91 for natural gas and 0.93 for LP—ratings nearly 10 points higher than a comparably-sized, conventional tankless unit, and approximately 30 points higher than a standard, tank-type gas-fired water heater. The NRC661 uses recyclable components and replaceable parts, and the heat exchanger comes with a 12-year warranty.

  • American Standard Champion PRO Series Toilets built before 1982 can use as much as 6 or 7 gallons per flush (gpf), whereas WaterSense-labeled models use about 1.3 gpf, much less than the federally mandated standard of 1.6 gpf. This series of toilets uses 1.28 gpf and features the industry’s largest siphonic 2-3/8-inch trapway and 4-inch-diameter flush valve, which means it is less likely to clog, despite the fact that it uses so little water. (The American Standard website boasts that the toilet can flush a bucket of golf balls!) The Champion PRO line is sold exclusively through wholesale distribution, and the purchase of a Champion toilet supports the “Flush for Good” campaign, which provides safe water and sanitation facilities for families in Bangladesh.

  • SANISTAR Macerating Toilet System from SFA Saniflo Inc. Measuring only 18 inches wide and 20 ½ inches deep, the one-piece SANISTAR Macerating Toilet System, which includes a vitreous China toilet bowl and a macerator/pump combo, is perfect for small spaces. The dual-flush version uses either 1.28 gpf or 1.0 gpf. The toilet needs to be affixed to a wall, using the included wall bracket system, and includes an interior macerator, which can pump water away from a nearby hand basin. The flushing mechanism is activated by pressing a button on the toilet, which triggers a solenoid valve that fills and washes the bowl. The pump motor then empties the bowl into the macerator, which breaks up the contents before the waste is removed via a discharge line.

  • Caroma Profile Smart 305 Round Front Plus is a sink and toilet in one. It uses greywater for the toilet, and has a dual-flush system that uses 0.8 gallons per half flush, for liquid waste, and 1.28 gallons per full flush.

  • A shower or bath is an ideal source of larger volumes of greywater. Saniflo makes a small graywater pump called the SANISHOWER, which is small enough to be installed either under the shower base, next to the shower or in a vanity cabinet. The pump can move greywater 12 feet vertically or 100 feet horizontally, and can also work with sink fittings.

  • Dubbletten Urine-Diverting Low Flush Toilet  Invented over 20 years ago by Bibbi Soderberg of Sweden, the Dubbletten features two well-separated bowls: one for urine, one for solid waste. The forward bowl is intended for urine, and can be used without water for flushing, or a flush option that uses 0.13 gpf. The solid waste bowl has a dual-flush option, and uses either 0.9 or 1.0 gpf. The uncontaminated urine, which is sterile and high in plant nutrients, can be diverted to a separate holding tank and used as fertilizer; the solid waste bowl connects to the sewer line. The Dubletten uses up to 80 percent less water than a conventional toilet, and while it may be a novel concept for U.S. customers, the technology has been used in Europe for many years. The Dubletten is currently available through Rosie’s Natural Way, a small company under the umbrella of the MetroWood Group based in New Jersey.

  • Aquatron Composting Toilet System The Aquatron, a streamlined composting toilet system, requires no mechanical or electrical components. The separator uses centrifugal force to separate 90 percent of the liquids from the solids; the liquids are then diverted to a holding or septic tank outside the separator, while the solids drop to the BioChamber, where they are composted by worms. Accessories include a UV Unit and phosphorus trap, which can treat the liquid effluent to greywater reuse standards. The Aquatron can be retrofit into existing plumbing systems, and does not need to be installed directly underneath the toilet.

  • Nexus eWater NEXwater One and eWater Collector With this brand-new offering, Nexus eWater hopes to create a new category of home solutions for water and energy recycling. The Nexus system uses greywater to heat potable water. Water from the shower, washing machine and sink is captured in the eWater Collector, where a heat pump extracts the heat energy via a heat pump evaporator. The refrigerant then cycles from the collector to the NEXwater One, an 80-gallon storage cylinder, where it heats the freshwater in the tank via a heat pump condenser. By taking two of the most valuable resources in the home, water and energy, and automating the process of recycling them for reuse, the Nexus system can save up to 3,000 killowatt-hours annually.

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Topics: graywater, bathroom, water conservation, Water Sense

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