Monday, May 5, 2008

Laying the Foundation for Water-Efficient New Homes

What if you could buy a newly constructed house that was so water-efficient it used only 80 percent of what an average new house in the United States uses, without calling for any sacrifice? Well, soon, you will have that choice—WaterSense is developing a program to bring water-efficient homes to a neighborhood near you!

In pursuit of this goal, EPA will soon unveil its draft WaterSense specification for new homes. The draft specification incorporates EPA's criteria for product categories earning the WaterSense label (toilets and faucets) and requires many other practices and technologies aimed at bringing water efficiency into the entire home.

The movement to make new homes water-efficient couldn't be happening at a better time. Residential water use accounts for more than half of publicly supplied water in the United States—more than is supplied to both business and commercial industries combined. In fact, a family of four uses approximately 400 gallons of water every day. When final, this new specification will hopefully provide a starting point for homeowners to lower these staggering numbers and for builders to incorporate water efficiency into all aspects of new home design. On average, and of course depending on homeowners' water habits, a WaterSense labeled new home will be designed to use about 20 percent less water per year than other new homes built today.
In addition to WaterSense labeled toilets and faucets, as well as other water-efficient plumbing devices, WaterSense labeled new homes will feature ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwashers and washing machines. They also will feature a hot water distribution system that decreases how long hot water takes to get to your tap. This will help prevent homeowners from running the tap and shower while waiting for hot water, a practice that wastes thousands of gallons of water per year.

WaterSense labeled new homes will be water-efficient outside, too: if an irrigation system is utilized in the home, it must be installed by a WaterSense irrigation partner, and the surrounding landscape should feature native plant species that require minimal watering.
These new specifications can have a significant impact not only on water efficiency but on energy efficiency as well. Water heating accounts for 24 percent of the energy consumed in a household, and an average household spends about $250 per year for hot water. If one in every 10 homes in the United States upgraded to WaterSense labeled toilets and faucets in the bathrooms, it could save more than 120 billion gallons of water per year and more than $800 million per year in household utility bills.


Kristen said...

This is great! I went to a conference in Pittsburg where they spoke extensively about WaterSense I'm looking forward to the future of EnergyStar and WaterSense homes!

Kristen said...

HGTV is also doing their part. On the website they have all kinds of info on making your home "green".

Kristen said...

Here is another link from HGTV that talks about Green Building.