Did you know American homes release about 10,000 gallons of water from their faucets each year? The ChasingGreen team has, in previous articles, suggested several ways you can reduce household water use such as by shutting off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving and by reducing your time in the shower. But here's a new one for you: installing aerators on your bathroom and kitchen faucets.
JUST WHAT DOES A FAUCET AERATOR DO?
- A low-flow aerator attached to the tip of a modern indoor water faucet mixes air into the water stream to limit how much water is released, while also maintaining pressure and reducing splashing.
- Bathroom faucets that don't have aerators installed use between 3 and 6 gallons of water per minute!
- Buying and installing an aerator cuts the amount of water released from a faucet, which not only conserves water but also reduces home energy bills, and because it limits the amount of water that must be treated and delivered to homes, it also reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “If one out of every 100 American homes retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year – avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.”
DO YOU ALREADY HAVE LOW-FLOW AERATORS?
- The EPA has WaterSense specifications for high-energy sink faucet accessories. If your bathroom and kitchen sink faucets already have aerators installed, they will have rate flows imprinted on the sides.
- Look for aerators with the WaterSense label that indicates they use no more than 1.5 gpm. If the imprinted flow rating is above 2.75, however, consider replacing it.
- If no aerators are installed, check to make sure there are at least threads inside the faucets to accept aerators. If you have older faucets, it's possible they have no threads, in which case you'll have to replace your faucets with newer models.
HOW MUCH DO AERATORS COST AND WHERE CAN YOU BUY THEM?
- Low-flow aerators usually cost between $2 and $10. They can be purchased at hardware stores, home improvement outlets, and online.
HOW DO YOU INSTALL A FAUCET AERATOR?
- First consider the difference in flow rates between the bathroom and kitchen. Since you'll want a higher flow rate to fill cooking pots and the like, you'll probably want a 2 gpm aerator for the kitchen and 1.5 gpm or lower for your bathroom.
- If an old aerator is installed on your faucet, unscrew it either by hand or with vise-grips or a small pipe wrench. Whatever you use, make sure to unscrew the aerator gently and steadily, as you don't want to damage the threads.
- When shopping for new aerators, take the old ones – if they were installed – with you to make sure the new ones will fit just right. Don't forget the washers too.
- Once you find the right low-flow aerator and get it back home, apply a single wrap of white pipe tape around its threads.
- Put the rubber washer inside and screw the new aerator by hand onto the faucet.
- Run the water to check for leaks. If there are any leaks where the aerator connects to the faucet nozzle, first try tightening it by hand. If you can't get it tight enough, put a damp cloth around the aerator (to protect the finish) and then use pliers to secure it around the faucet. This can be tricky, as you don't want to over-tighten the aerator.