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(ARA) – Water may not be the renewable resource you think it is. In fact, 36 states anticipate shortages by 2013, according to U.S. government estimates. But the good news is you can do a lot to reduce the amount of water you use in the home, which helps save the environment and also save you money on your water bill.

You can cut back on the waste with every toilet flush, every time the shower runs or each time you wash vegetables in the sink. The Environmental Protection Agency promotes water efficiency and enhances the market for efficient products, programs and practices using the WaterSense label.

Several manufacturers that actively support WaterSense are taking the federal mandate of 1.6 gallons of water per flush to a new level. Kohler Co. has developed toilets which use only one gallon of water, and several models are available at the 1.28 gallons-per-flush level. Dual-flush toilets allow users to choose a level of water -- 0.8 gallons for liquid wastes and 1.6 gallons for solids -- with improved flushing technology, meaning consumers are not going to lose out on performance or design.

If all the inefficient toilets in U.S. homes were converted to models fulfilling WaterSense standards, it would reduce nationwide water use by 640 billion gallons per year – which equals 15 days of flow over Niagara Falls, according to the EPA.

“Homeowners want energy-efficient appliances to save money around the home, and they shouldn’t overlook plumbing products,” says master plumber and contractor Ed Del Grande, host of “Ed The Plumber” on the Do It Yourself Network. “By replacing toilets with newer models that flush much less water, but still perform to expectations, an average family can save a lot of water. And we know that performance cannot be understated. What good is a water-saving toilet if you have to flush twice?”

But toilets are just the start. The standard rate of water flow in the shower is 2.5 gallons per minute. Installing a high-efficiency showerhead can cut that consumption by a third, and many showerheads can be adjusted to get the high-pressure power massage, if wanted.

The third water-saving opportunity in every household takes the least amount of work. Faucet aerators are the screens water passes through as it leaves the spout. The replacement of a 2.2-gallons-per-minute aerator with a 1.5-gallons-per-minute aerator reduces water usage by 30 percent, according to WaterSense standards set by the EPA.

If you are curious about how much water you are using in your home, visit savewateramerica.com to take a brief quiz that will help determine usage and identify ways to save in your home.

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