On Oct. 1, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its High Efficiency Lavatory Faucet Specification. Manufacturers may now have their products tested to earn the WaterSense label for their high-efficiency faucets and faucet accessories, such as aerators.

According to the EPA, Americans are wasting 60 billion gallons of water every year while simply washing their hands or brushing their teeth. That translates into $300 billion in water bills and more than $500 million in the energy costs to supply, heat, and treat that water.

WaterSense-labeled bathroom faucets will reduce water use by 30% with no sacrifice in performance or change in routine. Savings could be even greater for households replacing older faucets, which can flow at rates as high as 3 to 7 gpm.

Residential lavatory (or bathroom sink) and kitchen faucets account for more than 15% of indoor residential water use in the United States - equivalent to more than 1.1 trillion gallons of water used each year. Most existing faucets, however, flow at rates that are much higher than what’s actually necessary.

The new specification establishes a maximum flow rate of 1.5 gpm, but not less than 0.8 gpm. The WaterSense specification also includes minimum pressure requirements, meaning the faucet will continue to meet the needs of the user.

Beyond water savings, these WaterSense-labeled products also can help consumers save on their gas or electric bills. Using WaterSense-labeled faucets or aerators could save 70 kilowatt-hours of electricity used for heating water annually - that’s enough electricity to power a hair dryer for about 8 minutes a day for a whole year.

To read the final specification, visit www.epa.gov/watersense. Look for WaterSense-labeled faucets and aerators on retail shelves in early 2008.