The Five Ws Of WaterSense

by Nicola Temple on May 16, 2012

The WaterSense label is essentially to water what the EnergyStar label is to energy; a certification that a product has met with strict standards in terms of efficiency.

Some people may not be as familiar with the WaterSense as the program was only started in 2006, compared with EnergyStar, which began in 1992. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to answer the 5 Ws about the WaterSense program.

What is WaterSense?

WaterSense is a program established to “protect the nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services” (source).

For most of us, this means a label we can trust. The WaterSense label is intended to save consumers time and effort by easily identifying water efficient products.


WaterSense labeled products, such as this FloWise shower head by American Standard can reduce water use by 40%.

Products and services bearing the WaterSense label have met a set of criteria defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Products are tested and certified by an independent third-party and must be at least 20% more water efficient than non-certified products in their category, without compromised performance.

Who is behind WaterSense?

The WaterSense program is a partnership between the US EPA and people who have a vested interest in water conservation. This includes local, state, and federal governments, builders and their associations, irrigation professionals, non-profit organizations, product manufacturers and retailers, utility companies and trade associations.

Why WaterSense?

Most of us in developed countries take for granted that we have clean drinking water available at the turn of a faucet. As a result, we have a tendency to waste water. Wasted water isn’t only a wasted resource, it is a waste of all the energy required to clean, heat and transport that water.

If only 10% of homes in the US were to install WaterSense labeled faucets in their bathrooms it could save 6 billion gallons of water each year, and more than $50 million in the energy costs to supply, heat and treat that water!

Where can the WaterSense label be found?

The WaterSense label can be found on products such as:

-          Bathroom sink faucets and accessories – The average US household could save more than 500 gallons of water a year by converting all bathroom fixtures to WaterSense labelled products. There are 3360 certified products in this category.

-          Shower heads – Switching to a WaterSense  shower head could save an average household more than 2,300 gallons of water per year (see the video below for more information). There are 605 certified products in this category.

-          Toilets – Toilets are the main source of wasted water in most households. An average household could save 4,000 gallons of water per year with a WaterSense toilet. There are 1121 certified products in this category.

-          Urinals – OK, so most homes don’t have a urinal, but there are some that do and the gents in most businesses will provide at least a couple. An inefficient urinal uses 1.5 gallons of water per flush (gpf) whereas a WaterSense labelled urinal uses no more than 0.5 gpf. That’s approximately 4,600 gallons of water saved per urinal per year! There are 102 certified products in this category.

-          Landscape irrigation controllers - As much as 3.5 billion gallons of water is wasted every day in the US by over-watering and inefficiencies in outdoor irrigation systems. WaterSense labelled irrigation controllers act like a thermostat for your irrigation system, matching watering schedules to the garden’s needs and therefore reducing water waste.

The WaterSense label can also be given to new homes that have incorporated water saving technologies and products to reduce water consumption both inside and outside the home. Compared with an average home, a new WaterSense labelled home could save a family of four as much as 50,000 gallons of water a year.

Finally, professional services, such as landscape irrigation professionals can also earn the WaterSense certification standard. When applied to a service, the label is verification of the business’ proficiency in the design, installation, maintenance and auditing of irrigation systems. Just like products, the performance of the service provider is certified by an independent third-party.

When should I switch to WaterSense?

There’s no time like the present! Obviously, if you are in the market for a new toilet or faucet, then look for a product that carries the WaterSense label. However, it might also save you some money and save the environment some precious resources if you make the switch before it needs replacing. If you’re unsure, you can calculate your water savings and determine whether it’s worth it to upgrade to a water efficient model.

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