Ever wonder where most water is used inside the home? Look no farther than the bathroom, which consumes nearly half the water in the average home. Toilets use the most, with showers and tubs taking their share. Additionally, clothes washing machines account for about one-quarter of the water used. The greatest water-saving gains come from efficiency in these three areas.
A leaky toilet can consume as much as 200 gallons of water a day, costing hundreds of dollars a year. Even water efficient toilets that are operating properly account for the highest water use in the home.
When remodeling, look for a High Efficiency Toilet (HET) with the EPA WaterSense label for a water-efficient and high-performing flush. The EPA WaterSense label means the product has been certified by third-party, independent laboratory testing. For a list of HET models with the EPA WaterSense label visit the EPA WaterSense website. For information on how well these products perform, or if you are interested in lower flush volumes with high disposal rates, please visit map-testing.com.
If replacing the toilet is not an option, make sure the toilet flapper–the rubber mechanism in the tank–works properly. Test the flapper by putting a teaspoon of food coloring or a dye tablet in the tank and let it sit for 15 minutes without flushing. If the coloring seeps into the bowl, the flapper does not fit correctly. For more information on replacing a toilet flapper, visit toiletflapper.org.
Clothes washing machines are the second highest water users in a home, after toilets. Replacing an old washer with a new energy-and water-efficient model will cut the amount of laundry water nearly in half.
When shopping for a new washing machine, look for a Water Factor of 4.5 or lower, which refers to the gallons of water used per cubic foot of clothes, or buy one with the Energy Star Label. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that helps consumers save money and protects the environment through energy- efficient products and practices. Energy Star applies to dishwashers also. Energy-efficient dishwashers use 1/3 less water than dishwashers made before 1994. Check out Energy Star’s tool for finding dishwashers and other products.
For information on clothes washer and dishwasher specifications and models described above go to https://www.cee1.org/content/cee-program-resources and click on the most recent qualifying product list.