Water savings from showerheads and faucets

It's a delight this week to introduce illustrations to accompany my articles on the environment. The artist is Gennie Prochazka, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cal State Northridge, with a major in Illustration. Gennie has been illustrating children's books and magazine short stories for over 20 years and also designs homemade greeting cards. Her imaginative drawings will add a fun, whimsical dimension as they appear, specifically created to complement each article.DOWNEY - Last week we discussed various ways to conserve water - and also save money - through the selection and use of toilets. This week we're still in the bathroom, where the Environmental Protection Agency's "WaterSense" website projects an astonishing nationwide savings of 74 billion gallons of water per year if one in every 10 homes upgraded to WaterSense approved products through what the site describes as a "Bathroom Mini-Makeover." This equates to 7,000 gallons annually per individual home. Figuring roughly 19,000 residential water customers in Downey, the water savings from this program could be over 130 million gallons per year in Downey alone. In the shower specifically, the WaterSense site estimates 30 gallons per household per day, accounting for about 17 percent of indoor water use. Contributing to these amounts are the low-flow showerheads that met with significant public disapproval when their 2.5 gallons-per-minute (gpm) maximums were mandated in the early 90's. The rap against these earlier low-flow showerheads was that they didn't deliver enough water pressure to provide for a comfortable, not to speak of soothing, shower experience. Prior to that time, typical showerheads used between 5 and 8 gpm. And since most showerheads under the new laws included a removable flow regulator, it wasn't that difficult for individual consumers to bypass the regulations. The new WaterSense standards define low-flow showers as those using 2.0 gpm or less. While this may seem draconian, the Bricor B100 UltraMax, one of the most water-efficient showerheads out there, actually produces a comfortable shower, by a number of reports, at an amazing .55 gpm! This product sells for about $75 - rather pricey for a showerhead. But, as we've discussed before, there are also low-cost or no-cost ways to save water, in the shower as elsewhere. One possible method is to coordinate shower schedules in your household so that the water in the pipes stays hot. This may already be taking place in your home if everybody gets up at about the same time. Another low-cost technique - strictly for the super-enthusiastic water saver - is to run the shower water into a bucket as it warms up, then use that water for some other purpose, such as to moisten the marigolds. (At this writer's home, that amounts to a little less than two gallons.) Perhaps the most prevalent advice for water saving in the shower is simply to reduce the length of your shower. According to bewaterwise.com, a five-minute shower can save up to eight gallons. Multiply that by the number of people in your house, and you've saved a significant amount. Furthermore, if you're super-enthusiastic, prefer soaping up with the water off, or come from a military background, you can save water by turning off the flow until you rinse - often called a "Navy shower." And we would be remiss if we failed to mention that time-honored maxim: "Save water, shower with a friend." Now while faucets may be much less romantic than showerheads, there is still water savings to be attained by using high-efficiency faucets. In fact, according to the EPA site, you can "make your current bathroom sink faucet a high-efficiency model simply by purchasing a WaterSense labeled aerator, laminar flow device, or spray device. Installation is quick and simple." Also, be sure to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving. Last, but never least, you'll want to maintain your faucets by periodically inspecting them for and repairing leaks.

********** Published: January 26, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 41