Wednesday, October 1, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;57.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ra.png;2014-10-01 18:13:19
pic1
pic2
  • About 50 visitors showed up for the Responsible Bathroom Water Conservation Tour sponsored by American Standard at F.W. Webb on Redmond Street in Nashua Friday May 7. A mix of plumbers, builders, architects and consumers came to learn more about water conserving technology. In addition, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and a representative from the local school board showed up at the event to walk through the mobile showroom.



    Courtesy photo
  • About 50 visitors showed up for the Responsible Bathroom Water Conservation Tour sponsored by American Standard at F.W. Webb on Redmond Street in Nashua Friday May 7. A mix of plumbers, builders, architects and consumers came to learn more about water conserving technology. In addition, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and a representative from the local school board showed up at the event to walk through the mobile showroom.



    Courtesy photo
Sunday, May 16, 2010

Environmentalists hoping water-efficient toilets catch on soon

By this time, consumers are used to seeing EnergyStar labels on big appliances such as refrigerators.

Now – don’t flush – it’s time to start expecting similar efficiency labels for toilets.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency actually rolled out its “WaterSense” labeling program a few years back, said Derek Bennett, who manages the state environmental department’s water use and conservation program.

The WaterSense label indicates that certain toilets – along with faucets – meet certifiable performance and efficiency standards.

Believe it or not, there are more than 500 tank toilets and 1,650 faucets on the market now carrying the WaterSense label, Bennett said, with certified urinals and shower heads expected to do the same this year.

Still, the drive to save water through such fixtures hasn’t seemed to catch on, say, like the coiled energy-efficient light bulbs.

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Bennett said.

And he isn’t entirely sure why, other than the theory that water generally isn’t like other commodities in regard to supply and demand.

New Hampshire is considered “water rich,” Bennett said; the Granite State receives an average of 45 inches of precipitation a year.

“People don’t put water conservation to the forefront,” he said. “But just because that’s true doesn’t mean we shouldn’t conserve.”

Possibly – and unfortunately – it may take something major, such as a drought, for more people to buy in to water conservation through their bathroom purchases.

The math, though, is pretty convincing.

Before the federal Energy Policy Act of 1992, most toilets used 3.5 gallons of water per flush. The act sets a standard flush of 1.6 gallons per use. These days, toilets that use 1.28 gallons per flush are considered efficient and eligible for the WaterSense label.

A household that switches from a 3.5-gallon toilet to a 1.28-gallon toilet will save around 11,000 gallons of water a year. (This is based on the census average of 2.64 people per household, each of whom flushes an average of 5.1 times a day.)

So, what does that mean for your wallet?

Well, the average price for water utility services in New Hampshire is $500 a household, Bennett said. Installing a WaterSense-marked toilet would save about $64 a year. And with efficient toilets starting around $130, the payback is a year or two. Beyond the cost savings, Bennett said, there are “huge energy implications” for buying efficient products.

“It takes enormous amounts of energy to pump and treat water,” he said – and that can be especially draining for people with their own wells.

Other reasons to be concerned about water conservation, Bennett said, include discretionary water use, such as lawn irrigation, a serious water-sucking activity that doesn’t seem to be slowing down; climate change, which may cause more droughts – and floods – that would affect the water supply; old, leaking pipes that aren’t being replaced as often as they should; and population growth, thereby increasing demand for water.

Unlike some energy-efficient practices – replacing windows and doors is an example – Bennett isn’t aware of any federal rebates available to consumers for toilets, faucets or fixtures.

Bennett said he’d like to institute a state grant program that manages rebates, but there’s no money right now. An option are local “source water protection” grants, he said, which for which watershed associations could apply and offer as rebates to locals.

In the meantime, Bennett said it’s important to stress the cumulative impacts of water conservation.

“It’s not just for Joe Home-owner, but if Joe Homeowner and his neighbors (employ efficiency measures), small steps can make a huge difference,” Bennett said.

Here’s an example of a big step: The state department of environmental services just completed a full-scale replacement with 62 new efficient toilets, 28 waterless or low-flow urinals and 70 low-flow faucets. The department expects to conserve 1.8 million gallons of water, which shakes out to about $13,000 a year in water and sewer bills.

Also, last week, the “Responsible Bathroom Tour” swung into Nashua.

The tour is a marketing campaign by kitchen and bath product manufacturer American Standard that’s designed to promote conservation and show off efficient products to wholesalers, plumbers and consumers.

Last week, a 44-foot mobile showroom visited F.W. Webb Co., one of 300 planned stops nationwide.

Some 50 visitors, plumbers, builders and architects attended.

Karen Lovett can be reached at 594-6402 or klovett@nashuatelegraph.com.