Saturday, September 19, 2009

WaterSense label seeks Energy Star status

If you've been in the market for new plumbing fixtures recently, you may have noticed a lot more fixtures being identified with the WaterSense label. This EPA program seeks to do for water conservation what Energy Star has for energy efficiency. While there are specific criteria that apply, generally those products defined as meeting WaterSense guidelines are 20% more efficient than the average product in the same category. Additionally, rebates and other incentives are being offered in areas where water shortages are of concern.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that new guidelines are now being published that will allow homebuilders to voluntarily label homes with the WaterSense label if they meet guidelines for overall usage. However, since much of a homeowner's usage comes from landscaping, the guidelines are creating a bit of angst among turf companies. Areas of the country such as the dry Southwest in particular have been instituting programs to rebate homeowners for converting their lush lawns back to a more natural desert landscape. The WSJ article goes into some great detail about the pros and cons of the program.

While the Cincinnati area does not currently have the same water shortage concerns that other areas of the country do, the practice of xeriscaping (landscaping using more drought-resistant and native plants) has been gaining traction. Some landscaping companies in the area, such as Marvin's Organic Gardens, have made xeriscaping and water conservation practices a key part of their service.

Water conservation practices may not be high on your priority list, but it's not out of the question we could see the cost of water usage continue to increase with population growth and other factors. From a purely practical standpoint, here are few water conservation practices that could help your bottom line:
  • Look for WaterSense labeled products when installing new fixtures
  • Fix any leaks as soon as possible. Leaky toilets can waste up to 500 gallons a day.
  • Use a rain barrel for watering of plants when needed
  • Use xeriscaping to reduce landscape water needs
  • Let lawns go dormant during dry summer periods based on the type of grass you have. If watering your lawn, be sure to follow good watering techniques.
For more water saving tips, check out

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