As water conservation has become a widespread concern, an increasing number of water efficient faucets and showers have appeared in the market. What’s more, with advanced technology shower heads and low flow faucets, going green no longer means compromising on style or performance. “Good water saving faucets and showerheads use less water but deliver what feels like full-volume water thereby cutting the cost of water, water heating, sewage and more. Also, with global brands entry in India and Indian manufacturer’s international partnerships, consumers can now choose from wide range of styles and prices to meet individual aesthetic needs.” says Architect Menka Sehgal, Adlakha & Associates.
Furthermore, international manufacturers, serious about water conservation are also participating in US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) voluntary WaterSense program. These WaterSense-certified products now available in India too, meet minimum water efficiency standards to help customers identify genuine water saving products. In addition to being approximately 20% more water-efficient than average products, WaterSense labelled products perform as well as their traditional counterparts.
A low flow showerhead 1.6 gpm or less typically incorporates a mix of air and water delivered through a narrow spray area than conventional showerheads. As a result, they use less water but there’s no perceptible difference in quality or comfort. “High efficiency showers have reduced flow rates but combine air with water droplets to give a fuller spray therefore not compromising on the showering experience.” adds Interior Designer Vinita Jalan. Other features of low-flow showerheads include atomizers that deliver water in small but abundant droplets to cover larger surface areas, pulsators that vary spray patterns with pauses between spurts or by pulsating between strong flow and light mist and aerators that mix water droplets with air to cover the desired surface area. For example, Hindware new range of showers in three different functions – overhead showers with 5 jets, dual function with waterfall + rain and only rain come with an advanced aerodynamic technology called ACP (Air Charging Pressure). The ACP technology fitted in these showers absorbs energy and ambient air and combines it with flowing water to get the soothing effect of air and water mixed together. This combination then effectively builds up added water pressure during bathing for enhanced pleasure and also conserves up to 33% of the total water consumption. The ACP unit converts the linear flow of water into raindrop like particles which create a soothing frictional sound.
However, aeration remains the most popular and efficient method of reducing water consumption in shower heads. Aeration alone can reduce water consumption up to 30 percent. Shower heads aerate the water through two techniques. The first is turbulence within the shower head which effectively mixes the water with air. The second is the implementation of the Venturi tube that creates a vacuum within the shower head and sucks air into the unit infusing the oxygen with the water stream. Alternatively, the pressure compensating flow regulator is a feature on low-flow shower heads which allows the shower head to maintain the same flow rate over a variety of water pressures. The optimum performing shower head designs deliver nearly identical flow rates within the typical pressure range of 40-80 PSI.
In addition, the ShowerStart technology enabled shower heads save water as well as energy by keeping hot water from running down the drain before user step in the shower. ShowerStart technology watches the shower’s temperature and “triggers a trickle” as soon as the shower is warm enough to use. This not only eliminates the water and energy waste, but the sound of the trickle tells user that the shower’s ready. Digital showers are the latest trend in high end bathrooms. Their major benefit is the fact that the temperature and flow of the water is digitally controlled to maintain the continuity of temperature for the duration of the shower.
A modern faucet lasts many years due to the ceramic disc technology that has now replaced compressed rubber seals. Moreover, a high tech coating being used on faucets is PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) that allows the faucets in any finish from bronze, brass to brushed nickel to remain corrosion resistant. The increased durability of faucets has ensured that they do not end up in land refill after few years of usage. In addition flexible PEX (cross linked polyethylene) plumbing is replacing vinyl based PVC and copper pipes which besides being greener material is suitable for tricky retrofitting due to their flexibility thereby, avoiding demolition wastage.
“Water-saver faucet with measured out-flow arrangement has a major advantage. The user pre-decides the actual quantity of water to be used every time the faucet is operated and can pre-judge the out flow thereby allowing the person to make effective & optimum use of the water.” as per C.V Venugopalan, Managing Director, M&V Beyond Barriers Technology Ltd. Then there are more advanced ultrasonic and infrared-sensor faucets which automatically activate the water flow when hands are detected beneath it and automatically shut off when the hands are removed. Alternatively, foot controlled faucets allow you to activate a faucet at a set temperature by tapping your foot on a pedal. In fact, a conventional faucet can also be turned into water efficient faucet by simply replacing the screw-in tip of the faucet with an aerator.
Digital controls on faucets ensure desired temperature of water for desired amount of time therefore minimising wastage. In addition, the faucets with ultra-low power consumption and intelligent resolution sensor with memory function, can automatically adjust the sensing distance and allow the faucet be turned on and off at preset temperature setting. “Most automatic faucets are battery powered and incorporate a passive infrared sensor to detect hand motion. They are popularly used in public washrooms, airports and hotels to reduce water consumption and transmission of disease causing microbes.” states Sehgal.
Taking water and energy conservation a step further, TOTO highly advanced infrared-sensor faucet has been designed to be a self sustaining product. Engineered to require no electricity or routine disposable battery replacement for sensor operation, the faucet put water to work by supplying the very energy they consume. The flow of water spins the high-efficiency turbine to both create and store power. Each turn of the turbine powers and recharges capacitors that power the sensor and solenoid valve, which are backed up by the battery. With as few as 10 uses a day, the backup battery itself is seldom used and can last up to 19 years.
Dornbracht, headquartered in Iserlohn, Germany, is an international manufacturer of premium bathroom fixtures. Dornbracht fittings are made from 100% recyclable material and company uses a copper/zinc alloy in the production of all its basin and sink fittings to prevent lead contamination of water. Dornbracht has also introduced WELL – Water Efficiency Label, a voluntary classification system from the European sanitary valves industry.
Company’s intelligent electronics fittings such as eMote and eTech faucets fitted with infrared technology react to approach and allow the water to flow contact-free. Also, unlike other faucets that use both hot and cold water when in the middle position, Eno faucet from Dornbracht solely relies on the supply of cold water, thus reducing the waste of warm water to save resources. Some of the other popular faucet designs include SELV with engineered radii in a classic, conical form, IMO series in a modern, hybrid form, soft, natural design of GENTLE created by Matteo Thun & Partners and Deque a low fitting with a flat, wide spout that lays close to the basin, directing attention to the essential element – the presentation of the water.
Dornbracht has developed technological solutions to bring about a cultural change in the bathroom. For instance, Dornbracht ATT (Ambience Tuning Technique) provides users with choreographed shower scenarios that can be started by just pressing a button. Likewise, Dornbracht Smartwater stands for the vision of using the possibilities of digitisation in the bathroom. The intelligent system networks bathroom components with one another while conveniently individualising applications. And with Sensory Sky, Dornbracht has introduced unique showering system inspired by natural phenomena like rain & fog with fragrances of essential oils synchronised to the choreographies. Sensory Sky is controlled using the new, digital Smart Tools that offer intuitive, simple application logic. Andreas Dornbracht responsible for Sales and Marketing in the company says, “Smart Tools are the foundation for the bathrooms of tomorrow. In the long term, product design will be secondary to the creative and technical context, which will be geared more to the needs of individuals and allow for diverse forms of water along with water efficiency.”