WaterSense Labeled Homes


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Delivering on Efficiency in San Diego, Californi

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
established WaterSense to protect the future of
the nation's water supply and to promote water-
efficient products, homes, and programs with a
simple, easy-to-identify label. WaterSense labeled
homes allow families to enjoy the comforts of
home while using less water and energy and
saving money on utility bills.

To earn the WaterSense label, homes must meet
EPA's specification criteria: they must be at least
30 percent more water-efficient than typical new
home construction, include WaterSense labeled
plumbing products, and be free of water leaks.
WaterSense labeled homes can also include
features such as: hot water that gets to the tap
faster; ENERGY STAR® certified appliances;
efficient irrigation equipment; and water-smart
landscapes that minimize or eliminate the need
for irrigation.

Why Water Efficiency Matters to
Communities and Builders

Benefits of WaterSense Certification

For Communities/Water Agencies:

•	Preserves the ability to add new housing and
grow communities while limiting impacts on
water and infrastructure resources.

•	Achieves greater water efficiency using a
whole-house, building-science approach and
system solutions that may not be possible
solely with efficient products.

•	Encourages builders to design homes with
water-efficient features in mind, maximizing
water savings at minimal incremental cost.

For Builders:

•	Mitigates the rising cost of water and utility
connection fees.

•	Leverages support from existing communities
and investors.

•	Offers advantages in the permitting and land
entitlement processes.

•	Supports corporate disclosures and reporting.

In areas such as San Diego where drought and
water supplies are an ongoing concern, using
water wisely is critical. Due to limited local water
supplies, more than 80 percent of San Diego's
water is imported from Northern California and
the Colorado River, areas also prone to drought.

The figure on the next page shows the drought
status in San Diego County, California, between 2000 and 2023, with yellow denoting abnormally dry
conditions and darker colors indicating even greater drought intensity. Over the same period, San
Diego County's population increased by 16 percent, representing more than 460,000 additional
residents. While the area is working to diversify its water supply portfolio, these efforts can carry


significant costs for local governments and customers. San Diego and similar areas need to plan
communities wisely to make the best use of local and regional water resources as population grows,

WaterSense labeled homes can help preserve the ability to add housing in communities that are water-
or infrastructure-constrained by minimizing the impact of new construction on water resources.
Simultaneously, they can also mitigate the impact of rising costs of water and connection fees.

San Diego County (CA) Percent Area in U.S. Drought Monitor Categories







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DO (Abnormally Dry) D1 (Moderate Drought) D2 (Severe Drought) D3 (Extreme Drought) D4 (Exceptional Drought)

Why Choose WaterSense Labeled Homes

The WaterSense label for homes provides a whole-house approach to water efficiency. The programs
that certify homes through WaterSense address specific climate and market conditions by encouraging
system and design improvements in addition to efficient products and appliances. This approach helps
maximize savings and reduce costs for the builder, the homeowner, and the community.

WaterSense labeled homes can achieve significantly more savings than homes with WaterSense
labeled plumbing products alone. Plus, WaterSense labeled homes carry the additional benefit of being
independently certified to ensure they are free of leaks and that products and systems are properly
installed to maximize savings.

Maximizing Water Savings With WaterSense Labeled Homes

The table on the next page illustrates the features that may be included under four scenarios in San
Diego. This example uses a typical 2,400-square-foot home with an average-sized household (2.61
occupants) on a 10,000-square-foot lot that includes 5,826 square feet of conventional, irrigated turf
(unless otherwise specified). Assumptions for a typical home are based on national averages.

The baseline home includes products meeting federal efficiency standards and other features typical
of new construction. The home following the Mandatory Checklist for WaterSense Labeled Homes
includes WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, and showerheads, but no additional water-efficient
features. The home meeting California Standards is required to meet more rigorous product efficiency
criteria for certain plumbing products. Finally, the example WaterSense labeled home incorporates a
variety of water-efficient indoor and outdoor features that meet the water efficiency requirement for
WaterSense labeled homes and result in substantially more water savings.


This is just one example of a home that has earned the WaterSense label—other design configurations
could also meet the requirement. The example shows that for coastal desert climates such as San
Diego's, improvements in indoor water efficiency will not be sufficient to achieve the 30 percent
threshold. The home will generally need to focus on maximizing outdoor water savings (e.g., reducing
turf and using non-irrigated or natural areas to reduce irrigable landscape area) to ensure it is at least
30 percent more water-efficient than typical new construction.


Baseline Home

Home Meeting

Home Meeting
California Appliance
Efficiency Standards

Example WaterSense
Labeled Home in San


1.6 gpf

1.28 gpf

1.28 gpf

1.1 gpf


2.5 gpm

2.0 gpm

1.8 gpm

1.8 gpm

Lavatory Faucets

2.2 gpm

1.5 gpm

1.2 gpm

1.2 gpm

Kitchen Faucets

2.2 gpm

2.2 gpm

1.8 gpm

1.5 gpm


5.0 gpc

5.0 gpc

5.0 gpc

3.5 gpc

Clothes Washers

6.5 IWF

6.5 IWF

6.5 IWF

4.3 IWF

Hot Water Delivery




More efficient hot water

Landscape and

Turf irrigated
with standard

fixed spray
sprinklers and

Turf irrigated with
standard fixed
spray sprinklers
and timer-based

Turf irrigated with
WaterSense labeled
spray sprinkler
bodies and timer-
based controller

15% reduction in irrigable
landscape; 35% of remaining
landscape converted to non-

turf design with pressure-
compensating drip irrigation;
WaterSense labeled spray
sprinkler bodies and
irrigation controller

Total Estimated
Annual Water Use

153,000 gallons

141,000 gallons

139,000 gallons

<107,000 gallons

Total Estimated
Annual Water and
Percent Savings
From Baseline

0 gallons
0% savings

12,000 gallons
5 to 10% savings

14,000 gallons
6 to 12% savings

>46,000 gallons
>30% savings

Feature meets federal
standard or common
construction practices

Feature meets
WaterSense or
ENERGY STAR criteria

Feature achieves greater efficiency
level than WaterSense product
specification criteria

gpf = gallons per flush; gpm = gallons per minute; gpc = gallons per cycle; IWF = integrated water factor
* For example purposes only. Home could qualify with a different combination of features, and a different home
with these features is not guaranteed to achieve WaterSense certification.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about WaterSense and how it can benefit your community? Visit

PHONE (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) WEBSITE www.epa.gov/watersenseEMAILwatersense@epa.gov


May 2023