Water is at a premium throughout drought-stricken California, and home buyers will no longer be able to “go with the flow” as residents are tasked withconserving more. Typical U.S. households use approximately 260 gallons of water every day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And as mandatory water restrictions require residents to reduce their water usage by 25 percent, awater-efficient home can help play a large role.
REALTORS® eager to help clients lessen their aqua-footprint may want to consider the water conservation features that new home construction can offer. New homes are generally equipped with more state-of-the-art options to help protect this precious resource and create a viable point of differentiation for concerned citizens.
Here are some common features of new construction that can help conserve our “liquid gold":
1. “Green” landscaping: The average suburban lawn consumes a whopping 10,000 gallons of non-rain water each year. That’s why some of today’s most coveted gardens utilize the principles of “xeric” or drought-tolerant landscaping. Native plants, such as lavender, ice plant and succulents are well-suited to drought-like conditions and drier soil, thereby helping to reduce water usage. Also, consider a smart “weather-sensing” irrigation system to automatically adjust the water schedule based on weather, seasonality and even zone type. After all, no one wants to see sprinklers running during an unexpected rain.
2. Efficient plumbing lines: New homes generally employ efficient plumbing lines including pressure-regulating valves, which can limit water usage to 60 pounds per square inch (psi). This reduction helps with leaks, saves water and money, and can lessen the possibility of pipes bursting. New homes may also include well-insulated hot water pipes, which speed hot water to the user, reducing the amount ofwater wasted in warming it up.
3. Improved water heaters: New choices including tankless heaters, heat pumps, or solar hot water heaters save bothwater and energy.
4. Low-flow plumbing fixtures: Faucets and showers account for 15 and 17 percent of household water use respectively. Improved low-flow options save water (about 30 percent for sinks and 25 to 60 percent for showerheads) without sacrificing quality, appearance or functionality.
5. Dual-flush toilets: Toilets are the number one source ofwater usage in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Low-flow models are a step in the right direction, but dual-flush options are even better, offering a full flush volume for solids and a reduced flush for liquids.
6. Energy-efficient dishwashers: On average, dishwashers earning the ENERGY STAR label are 15 percent more water efficient than standard models. These newer-model dishwashers can save up to 1,600 gallons ofwater over the lifetime of the appliance.
7. Updated washing machines: Take a brand new washing machine for a spin and save on the second-highestwater demand in the house. Models manufactured and sold since are required to use even less water than previous energy-saving models. Even as capacities have expanded, maximum water usage has decreased, helping to save as much as eight gallons more per cycle than older models.
As this severe drought continues to challenge California, REALTORS® can help clients look for new homes that have taken water conservation into account and that have the potential to save money for prospective homeowners in the future. We can all do our part to contend with the Golden State’s water scarcity.