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The WaterSense Current Winter 2014

Issue XXIX, Winter 2014

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water.The WaterSense Current is a quarterly update dedicated to news and events relatedto WaterSense.

In This Issue:

Warm Up to Water Savings With Efficient Hot Water Delivery

If the start to your shower has you shivering this winter, an inefficient hot water delivery system could be to blame for the "brrr." When the mercury drops, the chill of waiting for warm water to reach the tap can become even more aggravating, not only wasting time but water and energy as well. According to the Energy Information Administration, heating water is the second largest use of energy in a home after space heating and cooling.

Hot water used for showering, bathing, shaving, and cleaning requires a considerable amount of energy. Homes with electric water heaters, for example, spend one-fourth of their total electric bills just to heat water! What's more, studies show that the average home wastes more than 3,650 gallons of water per year waiting for hot water to reach the tap. Saving you both drops and watts, WaterSense labeled new homes are built to deliver warm water—without the wait—so you can start feeling the heat a lot faster.

One of the ways WaterSense labeled new homes curb water waste is with efficient hot water delivery systems. Criteria in the WaterSense new home specification require that distribution systems store no more than 0.5 gallons of water between the source of hot water (e.g., water heater) and the furthest fixture in the home. This feature alone can save you enough electricity to power your television for an entire year. Using products such as high-performing, WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and showerheads—independently certified to use 20 percent less water than standard models—will increase the efficiency of the system even more.

Unlike an efficient water heater or plumbing products that deliver hot water more effectively, efficient hot water distribution requires a whole-system approach. This might be uncharted territory for many builders, but considering the hot water delivery system early in the design phase, increasing communication with plumbers, and carefully following a plumbing design can deliver superior homes without increasing installation costs. Between its efficient hot water delivery systems, WaterSense labeled products, and other water-saving features, a WaterSense labeled new home can save a family of four 50,000 gallons of water a year or more. That's enough to wash 2,000 loads of laundry and could amount to water and energy bill savings of as much as $600 each year.

Learn more about the water- and energy-saving conveniences of WaterSense labeled new homes and the drops-to-watts connection.

WaterSense to Launch First–Ever H2Otel Challenge

Approximately 15 percent of the total water supply for commercial and institutional facilities in the United States is used by hotels and other lodging businesses. Think about what would happen if everywhere you stayed when you traveled was as concerned about water efficiency as you are. Through the WaterSense H2Otel Challenge, EPA and its WaterSense partners will encourage hotels to "ACT"—assess their water use, change their water-wasting operations, and track their progress.

Many hotels already have programs that ask guests to save water by washing sheets and towels less frequently. Hotels can also save water, energy, and operating costs by incorporating water-efficient products, processes, and practices in their restrooms, kitchens, mechanical systems, and landscapes. Here's what WaterSense partners are asking hotels to try:

  • When making plumbing upgrades to restrooms, look for WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, showerheads, or flushing urinals, which are independently certified to use 20 percent less water than the federal standard and perform well, so guests get the power and flow they want and expect, and hotels save money on their water and energy bills.
  • Hotels can consider upgrading dishwashers, ice machines, and steam cookers to ENERGY STAR® qualified models, which reduce water and energy use by at least 10 percent by reusing water throughout their cycles.
  • Outside, a water-smart landscape can curb water waste, and a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller is designed to do the thinking for a facility manager in terms of when and how much to water.

These small changes can add up to big savings in water, energy, and operating costs. Following are a few examples of hotels that took the "guest work" out of saving water and realized other benefits as well:

  • When the 480-room Hilton Palacio del Rio in San Antonio, Texas, made the switch to WaterSense labeled toilets, it saved 6 million gallons of water in just eight months! Even better, the hotel received 90 percent fewer guest complaints about plumbing problems, and plumbing repairs dropped 80 percent.
  • After San Francisco's Parc 55 Union Square Hotel replaced more than 1,000 toilets with WaterSense labeled models, the hotel reduced its water use by 1 million gallons of water per month and saved $170,000 on water and sewer charges per year after the upgrade.
  • The Holiday Inn San Antonio International Airport achieved Texas-sized water savings when it replaced its old, inefficient bathroom toilets, faucets, and showerheads in 397 guest rooms. Water use per occupied room dropped 35 percent as a result, saving a total of 7 million gallons of water per year and about $68,000 in annual water, sewer, and energy costs.

Learn more about the WaterSense H2Otel Challenge and reducing water use in hotels.

Runners Are "Chasing Leaks" for This Year’s Fix a Leak Week

On your mark…get set…chase away those pesky household leaks! In addition to traditional educational events, communities across the country will celebrate EPA's sixth annual Fix a Leak Week March 17 through 23, 2014, with a variety of road races and fun runs. WaterSense's annual educational campaign encourages Americans to help put a stop to the more than 1 trillion gallons of water lost annually due to household leaks. These easy-to-fix leaks waste the average family the amount of water used to fill a backyard swimming pool each year.

Plumbing leaks can run up your family's water bill an extra 10 percent or more, but chasing down these water- and money-wasting culprits is as easy as 1—2—3. Simply check, twist, and replace your way to fewer leaks and more water savings:

  1. Check for silent leaks in the toilet with a few drops of food coloring in the tank, and check your sprinkler system for winter damage. You can also check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  2. Twist faucet valves; tighten pipe connections; and secure your hose to the spigot. For additional savings, twist a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without noticing a difference in flow. They can save a household more than 500 gallons each year—equivalent to the amount water used to shower 180 times!
  3. Replace old plumbing fixtures and irrigation controllers that are wasting water with WaterSense labeled models that are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform well.

To remind people how simple it is to chase away leaks, WaterSense partners across the country are hosting race-themed events in support of Fix a Leak Week 2014. For the fourth year in a row, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) will invite people to "join the chase" for its One for Water 4-Mile Race Exit EPA Disclaimer on Saturday, March 22, 2014. The event annually welcomes Leaky "Loo" McFlapper, a life-sized running toilet that serves as a reminder that leaking toilets are only funny when they are mascots. AMWUA's race will be accompanied by a Family Fun Festival Exit EPA Disclaimer for runners and visitors alike.

Following the success of their 2013 Fix a Leak Week races, WaterSense partners in Georgia and Virginia are also planning road races. The City of Charlottesville, Virginia, will once again host the Fix a Leak Week Family 5k, while the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District is inviting runners and their families to participate in Water Drop Dash 5k Race and Water Festival. In 2013, these two events educated hundreds of people on the importance of finding and fixing leaks.

Learn how you, too, can gear up to chase leaks in honor of Fix a Leak Week 2014.

Partner Profile: Athens–Clarke County Public Utilities Department

Lily Anne Phibian and Flo cheer on water savings in Athens-Clarke County.

Whether it's inspiring children to save water with its friendly frog mascot or teaching college students how to reduce water use, 2013 WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department ramped up its WaterSense outreach efforts in 2012 with kids of all ages. In honor of Fix a Leak Week 2012, the Georgia utility helped dramatically reduce a community building's water use by installing WaterSense labeled products, in addition to holding a dozen leak-fixing workshops.

Athens-Clarke's light-hearted water conservation mascot, Lily Anne Phibian, leveraged the utility's longtime friendship with WaterSense's spokesgallon, Flo, to provide water-saving guidance Exit EPA Disclaimer to children and the young at heart. Frog fans can follow Lily Anne's efforts to promote WaterSense and water efficiency on Facebook Exit EPA Disclaimer, Twitter Exit EPA Disclaimer, YouTube Exit EPA Disclaimer, and Pinterest Exit EPA Disclaimer.

The utility also partnered with students at the University of Georgia to hold "Train the Trainer" workshops. Students and community volunteers learned how to conduct water assessments; suggested water efficiency tips to local residents and organizations; and distributed WaterSense labeled faucet aerators, showerheads, and toilets.

"We have about 35,000 college students in our town," said Marilyn Hall, the utility's water conservation coordinator. "The more they see information about water efficiency and conservation, the more likely they are to carry the message with them after they graduate." The volunteers' Fix a Leak Week 2012 efforts culminated with the installation of WaterSense labeled fixtures in a community building, decreasing the building's water use by 50 percent.

In addition, Athens-Clarke launched a pilot Commercial Water Conservation Program in conjunction with the Altamaha Riverkeeper Oconee Project, using WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities to target high water-using restaurants in the area. The pilot included water assessments at three local restaurants and recommended installing WaterSense labeled products based on the results.

"About 25 percent of our water is consumed in restaurants, bars, and other businesses, so targeting the commercial sector helps us reduce our overall demand for water," Hall said. "Plus, we can help local businesses save money on their water and sewer bills."

Learn more about Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department Exit EPA Disclaimer and check out the 2013 WaterSense Award Winners Drive Savings fact sheet to see all of this year's winners.

Kohler and Lowe's Both Demonstrate a Sustained Commitment to WaterSense

Not only do Kohler Co. and Lowe's Companies, Inc., agree that wasting water is just plain weird, but these two three-time WaterSense Partners of the Year now share another common thread—both are winners of WaterSense's first-ever Sustained Excellence Award. To qualify for the award, a partner must have won three WaterSense Partner of the Year awards within the past five years, and must have applied each of those years. From spearheading a one-stop-shop website for water efficiency to significantly increasing the number of WaterSense labeled products on the market, these two partners have demonstrated a sustained commitment to WaterSense and its mission.

Kohler's SaveWaterAmerica.com Exit EPA Disclaimer website educates consumers on ways to curb their water waste. The site features water-saving tips, WaterSense labeled product information, and a calculator to estimate savings from these products. Kohler promotes the benefits of WaterSense labeled products through such social media networks as Facebook Exit EPA Disclaimer and Twitter Exit EPA Disclaimer, as well as features WaterSense in print and television advertising and in its exhibit booths at events nationwide. The company also educates the public through YouTube Exit EPA Disclaimer, where informative videos showcase water-saving products. Kohler participated in The Home Depot's 2012 Earth Day Celebration in New York City as well, where the company demonstrated a WaterSense labeled toilet's flushing power in front of thousands in Times Square.

Lowe's has likewise sustained its corporate effort to deliver water savings to the masses. To help consumers become more water-efficient in 2012, the company diversified its WaterSense labeled product inventory and ensured that all lavatory faucets in Lowe's stores were WaterSense labeled. The company also launched a smartphone application to help employees find rebates for customers interested in WaterSense labeled products and included bilingual labeled product information on the Lowe's website Exit EPA Disclaimer. What's more, Lowe's collaborated with the Wyland Foundation to support the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation; sponsored the Arizona Municipal Water Users race during Fix a Leak Week 2012; and teamed up with Moen Incorporated and Delta Faucet Company to support WaterSense's Shower Better campaign.

"WaterSense is a successful program that demonstrates what can be achieved when government, industry, and efficiency advocates work collaboratively toward a common goal, and our consumers are the beneficiaries," said Rob Zimmerman, Kohler's senior channel manager of sustainability.

By collaborating and leveraging technology and other resources to help Americans save water, Kohler and Lowe's have proven their sustained contributions to the WaterSense program's success.

Learn more about Kohler and Lowe's and their efforts to promote WaterSense.

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