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The WaterSense Current Winter 2012

Issue XXI, Winter 2012

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:

I Heart WaterSense

That laugh, the sense of humor, or the way you both like to do the Sunday crossword puzzle…we know you have a lot of reasons to love that special someone. But don’t forget, you have lots of reasons for loving WaterSense too! This Valentine’s Day, Cupid’s arrow is headed right for your favorite plumbing fixture or watering device. So embrace these five water-saving reasons to remember why you fell in love with WaterSense in the first place. And be still your ticking water meter!

Love means never having to flush twice. Bathrooms love water—they’re the biggest water users in the home. Over the course of your lifetime, you will probably flush the toilet more than 140,000 times, so show it a little love by using a more efficient model. WaterSense labeled toilets won’t let you down—they are independently certified to use 20 percent less water, but don’t require extra flushes.

It only takes a minute (or two). Nothing says “I love you” like turning off the faucet for the two minutes it takes to brush your teeth or shave. For just a few minutes of quiet time each day, you can save enough water over the course of a year to wash three months’ worth of laundry. To use 30 percent less water in your bathroom faucet, twist on a WaterSense labeled aerator. These little beauties cost just a few dollars and can be installed in under a minute.

Love your lawn with less work. There’s no need to flood your lawn with encouragement to have a healthy, happy landscape. About half of the water we use for watering outdoors goes to waste from evaporation, wind, and runoff. Water at the right place, at the right time (early morning is best), and your lawn will love you for it. Better yet, if you have an irrigation system with a standard clock timer, show it a little love this year by considering a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller that has a built-in relationship with local weather stations to help monitor water use.

Shower with power. If you think you need extra water to stay warm in the shower this winter, you’re all wet. WaterSense labeled showerheads are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well or better than standard models. Plus, they save enough energy to power your television use for the year!

Stop (wasting water)! In the name of love. The drip-drip of raindrops on the roof is romantic. The drip-drip of a leak? Not so much. And it ruins the mood even more when you consider that easy-to-fix leaks in your home could be wasting enough water every year to wash nearly 10 months’ worth of laundry. Learn more about how to fix them.

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It’s Winter. Where’s Your Water Going?

In most areas of the country, winter is a great time to check for leaks in and around your home. If the mercury is dropping, so should your water use. But if your water use is high in winter, you may have a leak in your home.

Easy-to-fix leaks in homes across the country add up to more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year in the United States, and could be adding 10 percent to your water bill. Here is a simple checklist for monitoring household water use for leaks in wintry weather.

Check, twist, replace. March 12 through 18, 2012 is WaterSense’s Fix a Leak Week It’s the perfect time to "check, twist, and replace" any fixtures causing water waste around your home:

    Current toilet tank
  • Check toilets for silent leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank and seeing if the color appears in the bowl before you flush. Don't forget to check irrigation systems and spigots, too.
  • Twist and tighten pipe connections. To save even more water without a noticeable difference in flow, twist on a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator or showerhead.
  • Replace the fixture if necessary. Look for the WaterSense label when replacing plumbing fixtures, which signifies the product has been certified to save water and perform well.

Monitor your bill. Because people typically use less water outdoors when temperatures drop, your winter water bill will more closely match your indoor use. Check your water bill in this winter; if a family of four’s monthly water use is more than 12,000 gallons, you could have a serious leak.

Read the meter. Another way to check for leaks is to check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the number on the meter changes, it’s a sign that a leak has sprung somewhere in your house!

Current leaky hoseStep outside. Once the frost has passed, go outside and check your watering devices for cracks in the hose or drips at connections. If you use an irrigation system, check it before using to make sure your system was not damaged by freezing temperatures. For a more efficient and effective watering system, you can have it inspected with an audit by a WaterSense irrigation partner. These professionals have been certified through a program focused on water efficiency.

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Colorado Springs Gets the First WaterSense Labeled New Home in the State

From the Colorado River to the Rocky Mountains, the state of Colorado is known for its gorgeous scenery and emphasis on living “green.” What better place for a home that has not only earned the WaterSense label, but is ENERGY STAR© qualified and received the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED© Gold certification!

Current GJ house
Photo courtesy of EV Studio Planning, LLC
WaterSense builder partner GJ Gardner Northgate recently completed the first WaterSense labeled new home in the Gold Hill Mesa area of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Not only is this home, Exit EPA Disclaimer known as "Ascension," certified to be 20 percent more water-efficient than a typical new home, but it is also at least 20 percent more energy-efficient and contains a number of other sustainable features that allowed it to earn LEED Gold certification.

WaterSense labeled new homes feature faster hot water delivery, WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, and water-efficient landscaping, at a minimum. Ascension also has an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher, washing machine, and refrigerator. And using the WaterSense water budget tool, Ascension’s landscaping was designed to reduce outdoor water use by more than 70 percent!

Compared to a traditional home, a family of four in this home can save 50,000 gallons of water annually, or enough water to wash 2,000 loads of laundry. WaterSense labeled new homes don’t just cut water use—families can also save as much as $600 per year in utility costs.

While constructing this home, GJ Gardner’s goal was to achieve net-zero energy use, where the house produces as much energy as it consumes. Ascension features geothermal heating with a radiant floor system and a solar photovoltaic array.

Saving Water Becomes a Habitat

To keep spreading the water savings in Colorado to those who can use it most, EPA’s Region 8 is working with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver to build another WaterSense labeled new home in Colorado—and the first for Habitat for Humanity International. In January 2012, volunteers began pitching in to build an affordable duplex home that will bear the WaterSense label, ENERGY STAR label, and Indoor Air Plus certification. For more information, visit Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver Exit EPA Disclaimer or the Colorado Water Conservation Board Exit EPA Disclaimer.

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Save a Heap—Look Before You Leap!

Current Irrigation controler setting

Do you have a landscape watering system with preset controls? Experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of water applied by irrigation systems is wasted due to overwatering caused by inefficiencies! Leap Day, February 29, is a great time to stop and use a few of those extra minutes to check your irrigation system’s control settings and schedules.

It’s important to adjust your irrigation controller based on the season; in most climates, plants don’t need summer levels of watering during the rest of the year. A simple check and adjustment can ensure that your system operates at its maximum efficiency.

If your system uses a traditional clock timer, you may want to consider installing a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller, which uses local weather data to automatically adjust watering schedules and systems to better match plants’ water needs. WaterSense recently released a final specification for these controllers, which do the thinking for you in terms of when and how much to water. WaterSense labeled models of these weather-based irrigation controllers should be available soon; visit the WaterSense website for more information.

Even if you don’t have an irrigation system, it’s still a good time to consider low-maintenance landscaping that uses less water and still looks lovely. Consider some new, drought-tolerant plants for your yard this spring. Native plants that don’t require supplemental irrigation will help you keep your water bills low and provide a beautiful landscape. You can find a local plant list from your water utility, cooperative extension service, or on the WaterSense website.

And for those who like a lush lawn, take a little leap on your grass this spring to avoid overwatering. If you step on your lawn and the grass springs back, it does not need to be watered. Use this easy method to save on water while still keeping your lawn healthy and learn more outdoor watering tips.

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Partner Profile: Delta® Faucet Company

Current Delta Logo

When WaterSense began labeling water-efficient showerheads in March 2010, consumers didn’t have to wait long to find them in stores. With the help of Delta Faucet Company and other manufacturers, WaterSense was able to develop a specification that addressed both water savings and performance—a previously difficult challenge. Delta Faucet Company became one of the first manufacturers to earn the WaterSense label for its showerheads in 2010—one of the many reasons EPA named the company a WaterSense Partner of the Year in 2011.

"The WaterSense program shares the same belief as we do: that it is possible to provide the end user with a water-efficient, high performance product without taking anything away from the end user’s experience or decreasing the quality of performance," said Paul Patton, a senior product development manager with Delta Faucet Company.

In fact, more than two-thirds of Delta Faucet Company’s products from the Delta®, Brizo®, and Peerless® faucet brands offer WaterSense labeled options, making it easy for consumers to save water with style. By the end of 2010, more than 85 percent of its lavatory faucets and nearly 40 percent of the company’s showerhead shipments were WaterSense labeled.

Delta Faucet Company is also committed to widespread promotion of water-efficient products and practices. To encourage water industry professionals to experience a WaterSense labeled showerhead first-hand, Delta Faucet Company gave away more than 6,000 models at retail sales meetings, trade shows, municipal water utility training sessions, and other presentations in 2010. A “Green at Delta” section of the company website provides customers with easy access to WaterSense labeled products.

The company promotes other water-saving behaviors among consumers as well. During WaterSense’s Fix a Leak Week, Patton appeared on a local California television show, “Connecting with Carmel,” to encourage consumers to find and fix household leaks. Delta Faucet Company was also featured in Building Products magazine when one of its WaterSense labeled showerhead models won the magazine’s 2010 Green Product Award for being one of the best new eco-friendly products for the home.

Learn more about Delta Faucet Company Exit EPA Disclaimer and its efforts to promote WaterSense.

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Irrigation Partner Profile: Christopher Curry

Current Curry photo

As a principal at Sweeney + Associates Irrigation Design and Consulting in Orange, California, Christopher Curry has been helping his fellow Californians save water for more than a decade. Those efforts culminated in national recognition as a water-saving leader when Curry received the WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year Award in 2011.

Ranging in size from small residences to large regional parks, all of Curry’s irrigation system design projects take advantage of smart irrigation technology and are accompanied by watering schedules and annual water budgets. His water-efficient designs can be found at a wide variety of locations, from freeway slopes and commercial buildings to large sports fields.

"Living in Southern California, everyone knows the value of water, and the less we use the better it is for everyone,” Curry said. “I know my customers share my feeling when we review water budgets for the sites I design."

Current Leaky showehead

A shower leaking just 10 drips per minute wastes 500 gallons of water per year. That’s enough water to run your dishwasher every day for two months!

But it’s not just water Curry’s clients are saving. In 2010, Curry presented the city of Riverside, California, with a drip irrigation plan expected to save one million gallons of water used to irrigate some of the city’s medians. Excited by the prospect of less overflow into the streets and more cost-effective installation, Riverside decided to install drip irrigation systems not only in those medians, but in all of their medians across the city.

Curry also helped the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department acquire a new rotor system that uses recycled water and a central control system, which is expected to save the city up to three million gallons of water per year on just 10 acres of turf.

Curry plans to expand his water-efficient design work this year to include more greywater and rainwater harvesting systems. He also plans to continue helping his clients save money by using less water. "After the water-efficient products are installed, and the new water bill is lower, my design has been proven water-efficient."

Learn more about Christopher Curry Exit EPA Disclaimer.

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