As of late August, moderate to exceptional drought conditions were reported in 45.6% of the United States including Puerto Rico, impacting over 130 million people as well as 229 million acres of crops, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Scarce rainfall and extreme heat spells are putting Sun Belt regions in the crossroads of a potential climate emergency, but northern states like Massachusetts and New Jersey are also seeing moderate to severe flash drought conditions even as temperatures fall from peak summer highs.
In California, the State Water Resources Control Board has adopted two emergency regulations that prohibit wasteful water use and encourage water suppliers and local households to monitor water use more closely. As homeowners on the West Coast adapt to local water use restrictions and seek out innovative ways to conserve potable water at home, product manufacturers are lending a helping hand.
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Faucet Pumps & Aerators
Principle Faucets, a California-based DTC brand, has developed a sink faucet that cuts water use at the tap by up to 44%, the company claims. The fixture connects to a foot pedal that allows users to start, stop, and change the flow of water to easily regulate and control at-home water consumption.
Principle Faucets’ easy-to-install system gives homeowners the ability to upgrade current faucet systems or to install a brand new system. The Principle collection includes three faucet options, each with a separate foot pedal, and individual foot pedals are also sold separately and can be connected to almost any existing fixture.
Faucet aerators also conserve water by adjusting the flow rate through individual water jets. NEOPERL faucet aerators offer a variety of stream shapes that include flow restrictors to minimize water use while still providing a constant stream.
Condensing Tankless Water Heater
The NRCR Residential Condensing Tankless Water Heater Series uses a fully integrated pump that heats water strictly on-demand and minimizes the waste of unused potable water. The NRCR series also saves energy through an automated system that adjusts to average household water usage and triggers recirculation-loop activation to match expected usage.
A special control mode directs the unit to bring warm water back to the setpoint with minimal energy consumption, eliminating the need to constantly reheat a full storage tank. Users can also set their own schedule with a remote accessory to tailor the integrated pump to their lifestyle or scheduled needs, reducing water and energy use at the press of a button.
Potable Water Extractor
The Watergen GENNY Extractor extracts fresh drinking water from the moisture in the air to produce up to 8 gallons of potable water per day, depending on the temperature and humidity levels in the unit’s proximity. The GENNY purifies and filters humidity using UV lighting and low temperature water circulation and is powered by an electric socket, meaning that no plumbing is required.
As record droughts stress water systems across the country, Watergen’s GENNY extractor produces clean drinking water without dipping into a fragile existing water supply. The extreme effects of climate change as well as historic disinvestment in water infrastructure are putting increased pressure on water treatment plants and facilities, and in turn, threatening the safety and supply of local drinking water in drought regions, NPR reports.
Though water extractors like the GENNY haven’t yet become common appliances in households across the U.S., they offer a water conservation solution for consumers in every region.
WaterFence, a water harvesting system, was initially created by founder Steven McDowell for his 9th grade science project with the intention to “solve California’s drought problem,” according to the company’s site. In the years following, WaterFence went on to win several juried competitions at The Greenbuild Expo, IBS International Builders Show (IBS), and Sonoma State University.
The WaterFence collects rainwater from the roof of a home or building and is guided to a fill-point in the property’s surrounding fence, where it is stored in an “opaque and closed system that prevents biological growth, bugs, or rodents from contaminating the water,” the company claims. One inch of rain on 2,000 square feet of roofing can harvest approximately 1,200 gallons of water, and each 7′ x 6′ x 15″ WaterFence insert can hold up to 240 gallons of water and is made of 100% recyclable (HDPE) polyethylene.
WaterFence’s greywater harvesting system is hidden from sight by customizable inserts that are attached to the interconnected tanks. The facade can be finished with wood or stone and the design can be replaced with a different look at any time.
Niagara Conservation’s Nano Toilet uses a patented vacuum-assist technology for an average of 0.6 gallons per flush. Niagara’s models are equipped with a Stealth Dual Flush with primary and secondary chambers for either a full or half flush. When the “half” flush button is pressed, only the primary chamber is used, releasing 0.5 gallons of water for liquid waste, the company says.
Niagara’s water-saving toilets are 77% more efficient than traditional toilets and have been proven to save over 300,000 gallons in multifamily buildings like Orchard Springs Apartment Rentals in Marietta within one month after installation, the company claims.