Editor’s note: The following item is republished with permission of houzz.com. See the original article: Green and Clean: Sleek Water-Wise Bathroom Fixtures.

Editor’s note: The following item is republished with permission of houzz.com. See the original article: Green and Clean: Sleek Water-Wise Bathroom Fixtures.

By MICHELLE JERESEK

Sure, we’re called the "water planet," but remarkably little of the blue stuff — less than one percent — is available to us as potential drinking water. The rest is tied up in saltwater, ice caps and other difficult-to-access sources. That scarcity isn’t obvious to most of us in the industrialized world, where water is cheap and easy to find, but there are a billion others who aren’t as lucky. And our time of easy water may be waning too, with the U.S. Government Accountability Office predicting water shortages in 36 states by 2013.

Being water-wise can cut your utility bills, reduce the need for costly investments in water treatment and delivery systems, and contribute to a more sustainable water future. The bathroom is the place to start since it’s the water hog in our homes, accounting for more than half of the indoor water we use. Check out these water-wise plumbing fixtures that don’t compromise style or function.

contemporary powder room by Garret Cord Werner

Photo credit: Garret Cord Werner

To find water-wise fixtures, look for the WaterSense label. WaterSense, a partnership program with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is an independent organization that reviews (among many other jobs) plumbing fixtures for water efficiency. Their certification, or approval, is given to fixtures that are at least 20 percent more efficient without compromising performance. The average bathroom makeover with WaterSense fixtures saves 7,000 gallons of water a year. That’s enough water to wash six months worth of laundry.

Bathroom faucets

Getting a faucet with the WaterSense can reduce your sink’s water flow by up to 30 percent. Doing so will save the average home 500 gallons of water annually. You can also add an aerator to bathroom taps. An aerator decreases water flow while maintaining or even increasing water pressure by mixing water with air.

And regardless of how much water comes out of your tap, don’t forget to turn off the faucet while shaving or brushing teeth.

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Dual-flush toilets

Toilets consume far more water than any other indoor fixture, accounting for 30 percent of most homes’ indoor water use. Dual-flush toilets, increasingly common in homes, are an easy way to cut water use without compromising effectiveness. A dual-flush toilet differs from standard models with two flush options: one for liquid waste, which uses less than a gallon of water, and a second for solid waste.

contemporary bathroom by Kenny Grono

Photo credit: Kenny Grono

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Bidets

The U.S. is known for a love of being uberclean, so it’s surprising that we haven’t embraced bidets, as they offer a cleanliness we can’t get with toilet paper. Beyond cleanliness, bidets save water, because making toilet paper is an incredibly water-intensive process. And some bidet users increase their shower intervals, saving more water still.

modern bathroom by MILK design

Photo credit: MILK design

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Showerheads

You don’t have to give up a luxe shower experience to save water. Feel virtuous when lathering up with a WaterSense-certified shower head. WaterSense understands that no one wants a wimpy shower spray, so all their approved fixtures tout a "satisfactory shower that is equal to or better than conventional showerheads on the market" while using just two gallons of water per minute.

Showers typically use less water than baths, as long as they’re kept brief. A timer can help you keep an eye on how long you’ve been lathering up.

contemporary bathroom by Michael Abrams Limited

Photo credit: Michael Abrams Limited

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Bathtubs

There’s nothing like a long, luxurious bath. That luxury takes a lot of water — roughly 50 to 70 gallons per bath. Being water-wise doesn’t have to mean giving up your long soak. When remodeling or building, look for smaller tubs with a capacity of less than 60 gallons. Also, when you’re just looking for a quick clean, you’d be more water-smart to jump in the shower, where you’ll use about half the water.

modern bathroom by At-Six Architecture

Photo credit: At-Six Architecture

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Copyright houzz.com 2012

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