March 27, 2014

New homes built with WaterSense features enjoy every comfort and convenience while using less water both indoors and out.

When building new homes in Greenville SC, most “green” conversations emphasize energy efficiency. By contrast, the issue of water — its scarcity, purity and significance to sustainability — is often overlooked.

That’s because in North America, it is easy to take water for granted; not only is it cheap, it is relatively abundant and clean. But while an average bathtub here may hold 40 gallons of water, many people in developing countries survive on 8 gallons of water or less per day. In fact, an estimated 800 million people worldwide lack access to safe water supplies.

Domestically, seasonal and longer-term droughts have triggered restrictions and household quotas on water use in some areas. Average residential water rates have climbed 10 percent nationwide since 2009.

As a custom builder committed to sustainable construction, we build all our new homes well beyond standard code to reduce water consumption. All Addison-built homes incorporate EPA WaterSense-labeled fixtures – including toilets, faucets and showerheads – which save water without compromising function or performance. We also recommend high-performance clothes washers, dishwashers and water heating systems that use less water — and save energy, too.

For truly conservation-minded consumers, we go a step further and certify the entire home to the WaterSense standard. Residents of WaterSense-labeled homes enjoy every comfort and convenience while using less water both indoors and out; they save energy and spend less on utility bills, too.  In fact, the WaterSense label can save a family of four 50,000 gallons of water a year — enough to wash 2,000 loads of laundry – and can yield annual utility bill savings of up to $600.

Inside, a WaterSense-labeled home incorporates plumbing fixtures (as mentioned above) that have been independently certified for efficiency and performance. It also features an efficient hot water delivery system that stores no more than half a gallon of water between the source of hot water (the water heater or a recirculation loop) and the furthest fixture in the home. The clothes washer and dishwasher must be ENERGY STAR qualified. Other requirements include a maximum service pressure of 60 psi and, of course, no leaks.

Outside, a WaterSense-labeled home features a water-smart landscape design, with grass, flower beds, shrubs and trees planted with efficiency in mind. Irrigation systems – which incorporate WaterSense-certified controllers and soil moisture sensors — use fixed spray on turfgrass only (with a focus on uniform water distribution) and use drip or micro irrigation on all other plants.

In addition to choosing a home with “embedded” features that reduce water consumption, you can keep water use in check with a few simple lifestyle changes. For example, limit showers to 10 minutes or less. Turn off the bathroom faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving. Run the washing machine and dishwasher only when completely full. When hand-washing dishes, fill one sink basin with soapy water (to clean/scrub) and another with clear water (to rinse) rather than continuously running the faucet.

Lifestyle adjustments outside the home can make a big impact on water consumption. Easy stuff, such as using a broom instead of a garden hose to clean off your driveway or patio and washing your car less often (or at a carwash which recycles its water) can save hundreds of gallons of water a year. Install a small rainwater catchment system to collect water for seasonal flower beds or hanging plants.

With so many areas in the developing world so desperate for clean, healthy drinking water, can we afford to take water for granted?

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