Water-Saving Tips

Each of us holds the key to saving water. Members of Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) have dedicated themselves to producing WaterSense and other water-efficient products in a wide range of styles and prices. These products can be found online and in retail and wholesale showrooms around the world. Home and business owners have more options than ever.

But product development is only a part of the solution. The average person uses nearly 100 gallons of water each day, and our highly engineered, water-efficient products can’t save water until you act to reduce the amount of water you use. Indoors, routine activities such as flushing toilets and taking baths and showers account for the largest fraction of this usage in most homes. (Outdoor water use is, on average, the largest factor, accounting for 57% of per-capita use in the United States.)

Here are a number of actions you can take to maximize water efficiency where you live and where you work. If you decide to shop, you can find a product or a rebate.

What you can do in the home…

  1. Replace old toilets. A study conducted by PMI and the Alliance for Water Efficiency estimated that replacing all the older inefficient toilets with water-efficient models would save about 360 billion gallons of water per year in the United States. If your toilet was manufactured before the implementation of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) in 1994, there’s a good chance it uses water inefficiently. Today’s water-efficient toilets have earned high consumer satisfaction ratings, so there is no reason to be concerned about flushing power and cleanliness.
  1. Replace or upgrade faucets. Faucets account for about 15% of indoor household water use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). WaterSense faucets can reduce the water you use at sinks by at least 20%. Some faucets may be upgraded with an aerator to be made more water efficient.
  1. Get a water-efficient showerhead. Showerheads use about 17% of the water in an average home, according to Home Depot. Swapping out your old showerhead for a new one can save water and money while providing outstanding performance and safety. Always be sure that the shower valve is sized to fit your showerhead.
  1. Shorten the distance hot water travels. There’s nothing mysterious about it. The farther the heat source — whether a water heater, a heat pump or a boiler — is located from the outlet, the longer it takes the hot water to arrive. Water is wasted while you wait for the right temperature. One solution is a recirculating pump that moves hot water to the outlet while bringing cold water back to the heat source. In this scenario, water is not wasted because hot water is automatically pumped to the fixture before the consumer turns on the water. The pump is activated by a special switch or sensor.
  1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. The EPA says this simple practice saves as much as 3,000 gallons per year.
  1. Cut outdoor water waste. The WaterSense label is not just for plumbing products, but also for irrigation controllers and irrigation-training programs for landscape professionals. The label identifies water-efficient products and verifies professional proficiency in water-efficient irrigation system design, installation, maintenance, and performance audits.
  1. Water-Efficient Shower Systems. Multiple-showerhead systems should be specified responsibly, so that consumers can enjoy the showering experience they desire safely, reliably and efficiently. That means considering the total showering installation, including the energy used to heat and deliver the water. The ideal hot water distribution system has the smallest-possible pipe run from the source of the hot water to the fixture. All hot-water piping should be insulated, with a minimum of R-4 rating.

What you can do in commercial spaces…

  1. Conduct a water inventory to determine the flow rate of all plumbing fixtures and fittings. Any using more than current federal water-efficiency standards should be upgraded immediately.
  1. Eliminate leaks. Look for and repair any water leaks in faucets, toilet flappers, and so forth.
  1. Upgrade urinals. Replace older inefficient urinals.
  1. Check the aerators on faucets. Aerators can be replaced quickly and cheaply.
  1. Halt the long waits. Consult a plumber to see if a demand-driven recirculation system can be retrofitted to your hot water system. As in the home, these devices eliminate lukewarm water dumped down the drain while users wait for hot water.
  1. Switch to water-efficient valves. Replace commercial kitchen pre-rinse spray valves with water-efficient models.
  1. Ease the pressure. Consider reducing the water pressure of your entire plumbing system.