Experts have said, "Water is the new oil," as droughts continue to batter many parts of the U.S. as well as other nations. One of the difficulties in saving water is encouraging people to adopt new patterns of water use.
In the U.S., the average person uses 100 gallons of water per day in a home, or 400 gallons for a family of four.
Getting people to change their daily habits is hard. For energy savings, getting people to turn off the lights when the leave a room can have a big impact over time. For saving water, turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving can add up to a significant improvement. One way to save energy regardless of peoples' habits is to use new LED lighting that can cut energy use by up to 90 percent.
Like high-efficiency lights, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures can help reduce water use, regardless of the bad habits of the people living in the home.
At Niagara Conservation, the company makes high efficiency and high performance toilets, aerators and shower heads that use much less water without sacrificing comfort.
In an exclusive interview with ProudGreenHome.com, Shane Miller, vice president of sales, talked about the building industry's efforts to save water and the company's exclusive technology that makes every drop count.
PGH: How do you approach water saving technology?
SM: We do what we can do bring the numbers way down without any change in behavior of the occupants. When you're trying to save energy and have to switch off lights or turn the thermostat down and changing behavior, it's hard. With our approach, you just live your life normally and you have no idea you're conserving water.
PGH: Which Niagara products do the most to conserve water?
SM: We have an entire kit that can be used in multifamily, hospitality, retirement living, or student or military housing we do not only the Stealth toilet but also the ultra high efficiency Niagara shower heads, ultra high efficiency aerators for the kitchen and bath we have the aerators down to half a gallon per minute, which is really low. If all you're trying to do is get your toothbrush wet or wash your hands, you don't need more than .5 gallons per minute.
PGH: How much difference can those upgrades make?
SM: If you're working on an older property that was built prior to 1994 that has 3.5 gallon toilets and they're running 2.5 gallon shower heads and running 2.5 gallon aerators, and you retro fit the Stealth kit to .8 gallons toilets and 1 gallon aerators and 1.5 gallons on shower heads, you can literally save 30-40,000 gallons annually per property. The shower heads are pressure compensating; you can't tell that they're high efficiency shower heads because the stream on them is so strong.
When you do that to an apartment complex that has 700 units in it, the savings are dramatic. And, it's all transparent; the occupants don't have to change their habits.
PGH: Please explain the Stealth toilet technology.
SM: The patented hydraulic and water-saving technology behind Stealth uses air and water working together. At the conclusion of each flush, as water fills the tank and inner chamber, air is forced down through a transfer tube and into the trapway. This pressurizes the trapway and creates a larger water surface in the bowl, helping to deliver a cleaner and more reliable flush. When the toilet is flushed again, the vacating flush water creates a vacuum that depressurizes the trapway. This creates siphonic suction, as the trapway is quickly and completely filled with wastewater from the bowl. The ceramic trapway is fully glazed, which also helps ensure the bowl is cleared with each flush. And, because Stealth maintains pressure in the trapway instead of the tank, it produces a remarkably quiet flush without residual noise.
The Stealth toilet functions on 0.8 gallons per flush. There's also a dual flush version that operates at 0.5 and 0.95 gallons per flush.
See a video of the low-flow toilet
PGH: Where are you seeing strong interest in the Stealth toilet?
SM: They are more prominent in the markets where the droughts are really heavy, in the wet coast especially, you can go into any Home Depot and order through the desk or they have in the stores where they're really trying to promote the water savings out there.
PGH: What are some of the benefits of the Stealth design?
SM: It's a flapplerless design, so you'll never have a leaking flapper or have to change one again.
In a big apartment complex one of the biggest maintenance issues they have is changing out flappers. You might have maintenance guy that has to change out 6-7 flappers a day and whatever you're paying him hourly and the cost of the flappers, there's some serious money you're saving by going to flapperless technology. And the tenants have a much better experience.
PGH: What do you see in the future for high-efficiency plumbing fixtures?
SM: We will see water conservation efforts across the U.S. become more and more important as droughts continue to pop up.
Read more about water-saving devices.
/ Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.