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Saving water, cutting costs with the WaterSense program

Saving water, cutting costs with the WaterSense program
A home that earns a WaterSense Label is designed to reduce residential water use both indoors and outdoors.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency came up with a program called WaterSense which offers consumers advice on how to make smart water choices on products that can save water and save them money without compromising performance.

Key to the program is the WaterSense Label, which is meant to make it easy for consumers to find and select water-efficient products.

“It is a product labeling system, we label products that typically use around 20 percent less water while still performing as well or better than their counterparts,” Jonah Schein, a technical and certification coordinator with the program, told EcoSeed.

Companies who want to use the WaterSense Label sign a WaterSense Partnership agreement with the E.P.A. and have their products water efficiency tested and certified by an independent third party.

Products that can earn a WaterSense Label are toilets, showerheads, flushing urinals and weather-based irrigation controllers.

According to Mr. Schein, while they may be a voluntary program, many manufacturers are eager to earn the label as they realize that consumers are looking for these types of products.

“They want to know that the products they’re buying are responsible products that are going to be saving water. And they’re looking for the performance advantage as well,” he said.

Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save 287 billion gallons of water and more than $4.7 billion in water and energy bills.

In addition to water-efficient products for the home, the program also labels entire homes.

A home that earns a WaterSense Label is designed to reduce residential water use both indoors and outdoors.

The program started labeling single homes and town homes in 2009 and has recently undergone a series of revisions which make it possible for multi-family homes such as apartments or condos to earn a WaterSense. The new specifications were released this month and will be effective January 1, 2013.

“The trend that we’re seeing in both consumers and homebuyers and residents is that they’re really looking for high-efficiency and high-performing homes. Both because they want to save money but also because they want to feel good about their homes and purchasing decisions,” he added.

When we’re looking at WaterSense labeled homes specifically, a family of four can save up to 50,000 gallons of water annually, resulting in savings of $400 in water bills and $200 in energy bills.

The program usually focuses on new homes, though they do allow for renovation projects. The program requires builders to use water saving technologies, techniques and designs and WaterSense Labeled products where appropriate.

“Our guidelines are designed to make sure the homes are very water efficient and also, we’re just encouraging builders to use sound building strategy for building high-performing, high-quality homes that people can really enjoy and feel good about living in,” Mr. Schein pointed out.

Times have changed and “going green” is no longer an “indulgence” but a necessity. By turning to eco-labeled products such as those covered by the WaterSense program, consumers have the satisfaction of knowing that they can achieve savings while doing something to help the planet. (Katrice R. Jalbuena)

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