Faucets, Showerheads and Toilets
Earns GreenPoint Rated points
Protects natural resources
Makes your home healthier
Improves your community
It’s easy to take running water for granted. But in California, dwindling fresh water supplies and a growing population mean that potable water may be on its way to becoming an endangered natural resource. You can do your part to protect our communal water supplies with some simple changes in your home.
Low-flow faucets and showerheads can cut water usage by as much as 40% with little noticeable difference to the person who is washing up. High efficiency toilets perform well and can significantly reduce your water use.
The beauty of these products is that they’re not just good for the environment—they can save you money too. Using less water means lower water and sewer bills and lower energy bills for heating water.
Standard kitchen, bathroom and laundry room faucets manufactured after 1992 are designed to allow a flow of no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Older faucets use even more water.
If you are in the market for a new faucet, you have plenty of products to choose from that are more efficient than the minimum required by law. Select kitchen and laundry room faucets that use no more than 1.8 gpm. Select bathroom faucets that use no more than 1.5 gpm.
If you have a water-wasting faucet that you don’t want to replace, you can install a flow reducer. Flow reducers come in many forms and are readily available in the plumbing department of your local home improvement store. The easiest and least expensive option is an aerator that screws into the faucet’s tip. An aerator adds air to the water stream to make the flow feel stronger.
Another type of flow control device is a laminar flow control, which creates multiple small-diameter parallel streams of water that are not aerated. Both types of devices give the feeling that water is flowing at a higher rate than it actually is.
Another option is flow control valves. These are installed under the sink at the junction of the angle-stop and faucet, and can limit water flow down to 1.5 to 0.5 gpm per side (hot and cold).
Federal law since 1994 mandates that all showerheads sold in the United States use 2.5 gpm or less. Despite this, some showerheads actually use much more than 2.5 gpm, and shower towers that include multiple showerheads or jets can total 12.5 gpm or more. A better option is a good quality low-flow showerhead designed to use less than 2.0 gpm while providing a satisfying shower. There are low-flow showerheads available in every budget range.
Older toilets typically use 3.5 gallons of water per flush (gpf) or more. Standard new toilets use 1.6 gpf. Toilets that use an average of 1.28 gpf or less are called High Efficiency Toilets (HETs) and are now required by the state’s building code in all new homes in California.
HETs are available in dual-flush, pressure-assist and conventional gravity-flush models. Dual-flush toilets have two buttons: one for a half flush and the other for a full flush. The average gallons per flush of dual-flush toilets is based on the average of one full flush and two half-flushes. In the past, some models of low-flow toilets didn’t work well, but the majority of today’s high efficiency toilets perform well and don’t require multiple flushes.
Plumbing Fixture GreenPointers
- Get money back. Check with your local water provider for possible rebates. Water providers and local governments encourage people to install water-saving toilets, faucets and showerheads because these fixtures reduce demand for water supplies and reduce the volume of wastewater that needs treatment.
- Measure how much is going down the drain. To measure the flow rate of your faucets and showerheads, you’ll need a watch and a bucket or container that holds at least one gallon and is marked with volume measurements. Turn the taps until they are fully open, hold the container under the stream of water, and time how long it takes to obtain one gallon of water. Then divide 1 gallon by the time (in minutes). For example, if it takes 30 seconds to obtain 1 gallon, then the flow rate is 2 gpm (1 gallon / 0.5 minutes). If it takes 18 seconds to obtain 1 gallon, then the flow rate is 3.3 gpm (1 gallon / 0.3 minutes).
- Maintain it. If you add a flow reducer to a faucet tip, remember to do simple periodic maintenance to keep it from becoming clogged. Just unscrew the flow reducer, rinse it clean of debris, and screw it back on.
- Find out more. For more information about high efficiency faucets, showerheads and toilets and other tips on saving water, go to www.epa.gov/watersense.