The EPA’s WaterSense label makes it simple to find water-efficient products, new homes, and programs that meet EPA’s criteria for efficiency and performance. WaterSense-labeled products and services are certified to use at least 20 percent less water, save energy, and perform as well as or better than regular models. ENERGY STAR criteria requires washing machines to use 30% less water and consume half as much energy as conventional washers. Dishwashers that qualify for the ENERGY STAR label use 18% less water and 10% less energy than conventional machines. These partnership programs have come a long way in educating and encouraging us to be more mindful about protecting our vital asset–designing landscapes for water efficiency, checking for and eliminating leaks, and protecting water quality by using non-toxic cleaning products, to name just some of the effective messaging. The efforts have, indeed, helped us save a lot of water, but it is critical that we also assess the potential for using non-potable water to replace potable water wherever possible.
Texas currently uses reclaimed water for less than three percent of its water supply; however, by 2060, reclaimed water is projected to provide about 10 percent. Installing a greywater or rainwater harvesting system in a home, allows up to 60 percent of the household water to be reclaimed and reused, putting an end to senselessly using potable water to flush toilets, wash clothes and water lawns. Considering that 80 to 90 percent of the energy used to heat water in the home is wasted as it flows down the drain makes another case for greywater. A greywater system with drain heat recovery captures the energy and reuses it to preheat cold water entering the water heater or going to other water fixtures. The widespread acceptance of water reuse systems will require more states and municipalities to adopt codes or local ordinances to allow them.
Our efforts to conserve and reuse water will also reduce our use of the tremendous energy resources needed to procure, pump, heat, treat, transport, and store potable water, not to mention energy needed to treat used water in the form of sewage. Reducing our use of electricity also poses to reduce our use of water needed to operate power plants. Conversely, electricity is used for water pumping, extraction, transfer, distribution, irrigation, manufacturing and wastewater treatment. Reducing the use of water thus results in a reduction of the amount of electricity required to be produced by the power plant.