The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the WaterSense program in 2006 due to the increasing lack of water supply throughout the country and increasing environmental concerns about water quality. The WaterSense program was created to educate consumers on water conservation and to promote the WaterSense label. The label represents the fixture as a highly efficient user of water and informs the end user of its efficiencies, similar to the Energy Star rating for electrical equipment. The goal of this program is to protect our nation’s water supply by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, professional certification programs, and encouraging the use of water-saving technologies.
The EPA partners with manufacturers across the country to certify and label their products that meet the rigorous water efficiency standards, ensuring consumers can easily identify water-efficient options in the market. These products include toilets, faucets, showerheads and other water-consuming fixtures. Any product that carries the WaterSense label meets the EPA's requirements for water efficiency, performance, and are backed by independent third-party certification.
WaterSense’s primary goal is to assist both residential and commercial consumers to use water resources more efficiently, while at the same time reducing water and wastewater infrastructure costs by curbing unnecessary water consumption. Under this program the EPA offers reliable information on water efficient, high-performing products and practices. It also aims to raise awareness about the significance of water efficiency and ensures the performance of water-efficient products. Furthermore, it helps consumers and businesses in identifying products and services that consume less water, promote innovation and lends support to state and local water efficiency initiatives.
There are three main parties involved in the process of obtaining the WaterSense Product Certification:
The party responsible for creating the product. Typically, a manufacturer would fall under the first party category.
The person or organization that has an interest in the product. Consumers and retailers would fall under the second party.
The requirements of becoming WaterSense certified include the following:
The fixture provides significant water savings on a national basis.
Performs as well as or better than standard models, assuming proper installation, operation and maintenance.
Achieves water efficiency through several technology options.
Can be effectively differentiated from standard models by a label that purchasers can recognize.
Products must be certified by an EPA-licensed certifying body to confirm that the product meets EPA’s criteria for efficiency and performance.
Provides measurable results, quantifiable in terms of water saved/water used, compared to standard models as well as level of desired performance achieved.
Provides a cost-effective alternative to consumers to the extent possible.
Supported by a broad set of stakeholders, meaning there is a general consensus that the efficient products will be promoted by a cross section of stakeholders.
To give a sense of the payback on a WaterSense-approved fixture vs a standard fixture, a water closet has been studied. By replacing an old, inefficient water closet with WaterSense labeled model, the average family can reduce water used for toilets by 20 to 60 percent — that's nearly 13,000 gallons of water savings for a home every year (about $140). The savings from your water bill, sewer bill, septic system, taxes, etc. will pay for the upgrade in no time with an estimated savings of over $2,900 during the lifetime of the toilet.
Not only does WaterSense approve plumbing fixtures, it certifies lawn irrigation systems as well. It is estimated that 50% of water that is used for lawn irrigation is wasted due to overwatering inefficiencies.
WaterSense certifies two types of irrigation controllers that can help homeowners and businesses make their irrigation scheduling more water efficient. The first is weather-based irrigation controllers. This type of controller uses local weather and landscape conditions to tailor watering schedules. The second is land soil moisture-based irrigation controllers to monitor moisture levels in the soil to prevent irrigation when water is not needed. Both technologies allow watering schedules to better match plants' water needs. With proper installation, programming, and maintenance, homeowners and businesses can use WaterSense labeled controllers instead of clock-based controllers on their irrigation systems, and no longer worry about wasted water.
To earn the WaterSense label, irrigation controllers are independently certified to meet specific WaterSense criteria for efficiency and performance. Controllers that use either weather or soil moisture data can be labeled under those respective specifications. Some controllers use both types of data concurrently, and those must be certified under both specifications to bear the WaterSense label.
Recognizing the importance of incentivizing water efficiency, many states and cities have partnered with the EPA WaterSense program to offer rebates to consumers who purchase and install WaterSense-certified products. These rebates serve as a financial incentive for consumers to adopt water-saving technologies. By taking advantage of these rebates, homeowners can reduce their water bills, contribute to sustainable water management, and make a positive impact on the environment. Rebate offers are more predominant in states like California, Florida, Colorado, and Arizona. Even if your water provider does not offer rebates for purchasing WaterSense products, the water savings alone makes it worthwhile to purchase WaterSense products. To see if your water provider offers rebates search this website:lookforwatersense.epa.gov/rebates/ The EPA WaterSense program and the associated rebate offerings provide an excellent opportunity for homeowners and businesses to contribute to water saving efforts while benefiting from financial incentives. By promoting water-efficient products and technologies, the program enables individuals and companies to make a positive impact on the environment and their personal finances. So go on and spread the word!
Richard Barbera, CIPE
Associate, Plumbing Engineering Manager